Shannon Kilgariff

Date: Study Period 5, 2013
Degree Program: Bachelor or Journalism and Arts (Writing and Creative Communication)
Host University: Carleton University
Host Country: Canada

Why did you choose your host university?

I wanted to go to any university in Canada and Carleton was the university that I was accepted into. 

Shannon Kilgariff What was the university like?

The university itself was amazing. It was extremely large and offered a variety of courses. Carleton is well known for its school of journalism and they had their own newspaper, The Centretown news that was published then distributed in the city. It also had great broadcast opportunities such as their own huge radio room and television studio. The assessments were similar to those at UniSA although there seemed to be more assessments. The university had a huge four story library for all students to use as well as a resource centre that was mainly for journalism students. The university also had a tunnel network so that during the winter you could use the tunnels instead of walking around outside in the cold. Very convenient. 

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

I believe that this experience had allowed me to meet amazing people, think about where I want to be in the future and where I want my life to go. It also enabled me to get used to living away from a place where I have most of my connections so journalistically, it helped me get used to being in an environment where I do not know anyone and cannot rely on the people I know to supply me with contacts. 

Shannon Kilgariff 2What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

I lived in the university residence which I highly recommend because it is very convenient living on campus and the university cafeteria where you eat your meals is amazing! I loved in Lennox and Addington which was really good but I had to share a room which was actually great because my roommate was also an exchange student and we became very good friends. Many of my other friends were in Leeds which is also very good as you get your own room and get a shared kitchen in an apartment style suit.

I recommend getting on top of residence early, as soon as you are accepted because positions are limited. Some friends of mine did not get in and they didn’t find it that hard to get rooms. They went through a company which caters for students and helps students find a place to live. If you leave Australia with nowhere to live then make sure you get there a week or so before class starts so you can find somewhere to stay. 

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

I went to the USA before I got to Canada.  I went to Vegas, Florida and New York. Before you go on your exchange in study period 5 is a great time to travel as it is summer over there. If you want to do the Rockies, this is probably a good time to do it as it gets so cold in Eastern Canada in winter that you don’t really want to be wondering aimlessly around in the cold.

Ottawa is in a great location as it is very close to Toronto and Montreal and we would often do weekend trips to these places. New York is quite easy to get to from Ottawa and it is a short flight. It takes a while on the bus but you can definitely go there in university break.

I travelled within Canada and wen to Quebec, which is the French speaking Provence which is really great. There is a skill hill there called Mont Tremblant only 2.5 hours from Ottawa and you can go there to go skiing every Sunday with the university bus for only $20. I bought my skis and everything over there and it was very cheap, especially compared to renting.

After university finished in December, I went skiing in Mont Tremblant for a month as it was very cheap; less than $400 for the season pass if you were a student in Canada, and then went to Quebec City, Vancouver and Whistler and then went over the border to the USA to check out Seattle. I would recommend making sure that you know when you want to leave Canada as you are meant to only stay for 6 months. I booked my flights home one week after the 6 months so I had to pay $75 to extend my stay so I was allowed back into the country should I wish to return. 

Shannon Kilgariff 3Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

I found it quite easy to adjust. Canadians have similar values to Australians and I found that I got along with them very well. The trick is to make sure that you speak to everyone and try and make as many friends as you can.

When I went it was the start of their school year which in my opinion is the best time to go. More exchange students arrive then and it is easier to make friends with the locals then because everyone is new and starting a new year. I did the orientation week which you have to pay $100 for but it was really fun and I got to meet a lot of people. It was definitely worth it. 

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

I got to meet lots of people from across the world which could help me one day as journalists need a lot of connections. It also looks great on a resume that I wrote for a paper overseas. 

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

If your degree allows it, do it. Everyone I know loved doing exchange and everyone I know who hasn’t wishes they did. It’s a great way to travel and study at the same time and it provides you with connections all throughout the world. 

Top Tips:

Do a full-year exchange. Half a year is not enough as it goes so quickly and you will end up wanting to stay longer. Also, don’t stress over uni and work. It is very easy to pass and although you want to do well, remember that it does not go towards your GPA so don’t stress if you don’t get your usual high marks. 


Areas of study and research

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