||Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of International Relations
||University of Calgary
Why did you choose your host university?
UniSA has a formal agreement with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary, which meant that I could complete my first social work placement through the host university.
What was the university like?
The university is quite different to UniSA. The resources available on campus were impressive (state of the art library, gym, ice-skating rink, food court, post office, medical centre, pharmacy, pubs etc) and students really do not need to leave campus for anything. UofC staff are incredibly helpful and accommodating, in particular their International Team were more than happy to meet with students, respond to individual questions and follow up on requests to ensure that students are supported.
The majority of Canadian students prepare for their classes extensively beforehand. Students are required to complete a number of small assessments throughout the semester (generally worth 5 – 20% each).
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
I have increased confidence that I will be able to successfully navigate life after university. The opportunity to live abroad for six months has also instilled confidence that I am well prepared to move interstate or overseas in the future.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
UofC offers a number of accommodation options, from living on campus to a private rental database. I chose a private rental which I found through rentfaster.ca. I paid $CAN600 a month for a fully furnished room two train stops away from the university. Utilities (gas, electricity and internet) cost an extra $80 - $120 per month and mobile phone was $50 per month. Staying in private accommodation meant that I met people outside of the university and maintained my independence, something that I feel I wouldn’t have managed so much on campus.
Students pay a mandatory $117 fee (similar to SSAF) which entitles you to use Calgary public transport without purchasing a ticket.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
I travelled to Vancouver and to Banff a couple of times each. I also visited Vancouver Island, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
Canada is similar to Australia in many ways and I adjusted relatively quickly. The most difficult adjustment was the weather - in winter Calgary can reach temperatures of minus 40. For the first 4 five months of my exchange (January to May) there was snow on the ground and the temperature was nearly always below zero. I met new people through university classes, housemates and placement.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
Yes. Undertaking a student exchange demonstrates that a student is open to academic and personal challenges, that the student has a global perspective and is adaptable to new environments.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
Social work students considering a placement in Canada should be aware that at UofC the majority of social work students have extensive experience in the field which means that securing a decent placement position is very competitive. Although the cost of living is lower in Calgary you will likely spend much more money than you usually would on trips, outings, food and drink etc.
Take as much money as you possibly can.