||Bachelor of Education (MBET)
Why did you choose your host university?
Purely because it was based in Canada and offered the preferred courses I needed to undertake
What was the university like?
University (college) life is very different in Canada compared to Australia. It is a very social aspect of your life where there are plenty of things happening all the time (literally everyday). For the work load itself, there is a lot more contact hours and a lot of summative work is completed in class. They are very big on exams, including both mid term and final, which I hadn’t done since my first year of university. There are plenty of resources on campus that are available. They have an 8-floor library (however if you’re looking for a work or to do some silent work it can be difficult to find a table). They have almost every single social club under the sun from sport to video gamers etc. They have two gyms on campus, where you only pay $40 for the semester to have all access to the gym at anytime.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
Going on exchange was one of the best things I have ever done. I only have positive things to say about it. It is a huge step out of your comfort zone! Going over the other-side of the world, where you don’t know anyone sounds quite daunting, but it opens you up to so many opportunities to see the world and make friends from all parts of the world. If your worried about being on your own without the comfort of your friends and family, not to worry. Everyone is in the same position as you making it so easy to get along and meet others.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
Living in Canada can be quite expensive, as I went over there when the Australian dollar wasn’t doing so well. Accommodation was quite easy for me to find, as I organised it before I left. Whereas, friends of mine struggled to find a place as they left it until they landed in the country. The option of living on campus is only available to exchange students who are studying there for a year or more. So I stayed at Tartu College, which was actually a University of Toronto (UofT) housing. Living in a 18 story building was the best way to meet people where we had regular floor gatherings. I would definitely recommend living with other people than finding an apartment and living alone.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
I’m getting very envious of myself writing about my travel as I just want to do it all again! I travelled during and after my university semester. During my uni semester I travelled around Ontario, to Montreal, Quebec Canada, New York City, Chicago. Being in Montreal feels like you are in a European country as this is the French side of Canada, where their legal preferred language is French. I visited Montreal in winter and it was a winter wonderland. NYC is NYC enough said – amazing! I was invited to Chicago for American thanksgiving, which was such a unique experience. Sitting down and having a traditional family thanksgiving meal – which are huge, by the way, and exploring the city, which I loved more than New York because it was less chaotic.
After I had finished my semester I flew to Colorado to spend the Christmas – New Year period with my brother and his friend. Colorado is such a beautiful place, where I spent Christmas in the Rockies up in Aspen skiing and snowboarding everyday and came back to Denver to spend New Years. In mid January I flew up to Vancouver to spend a few days, then Edmonton, Calgary, then to Big White Ski Resort where I spent Australia Day – which was insane. There is more Australian’s on Big White than Canadians, so you can imagine how crazy Australia Day would have been! After Big White I travelled down to LA to spend a few days before I flew home.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
I think I covered this question above, however, simply, other people are in exactly the same position as you so all you need to do is open your mouth and they will realise you are Australian and there is a simple conversation starter.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
100%. I’ve always wanted to travel and work in other countries, so this exchange has opened up many doors by meeting people and experiencing the overseas life style.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
Just do it! No hesitation.
Packing. You don’t need to pack your entire wardrobe, unlike me. If I had my time again, I would pack so differently, as you accumulate so much stuff overseas and don’t forget you have to lag it around everywhere!