“This exchange experience was the best 3 and a half month of my life! I am so glad I made the most of everyday I had in Calgary and that I made such amazing friends. It is a moment in my life I know I will never forget and I am grateful to Flinders University for giving me this opportunity.”
Who: Matilda Garrard
Studying: Bachelor of International Tourism
Where: University of Calgary, Canada
When: S2 2012
Please describe the orientation process:
There were many activities provided by each faculty so we could get to know our fellow students. Some events involved getting dressed up as Transformers and having water balloon fights. There were also events held by our halls which we lived in. The international office also provided many events for exchange students to attend which was a great method of getting to know students from around the world. One of the trips was to Banff, which was one of the highlights of my exchange.
How was the workload vs. Flinders?
I found the work load to be similar to Flinders. I did find it quite challenging trying to balance 5 subjects which is 1 more than we do at Flinders per semester. That combined with travelling and doing touristy activities was a bit of a challenge.
What resources and support were provided to exchange students?
There were great facilities. We all had free WIFI to access the internet. As well as a brand new 6 level library on campus. The facilities were great help when working on assignments and studying for exams.
I lived: On-campus
What were the major cultural differences?
One difference would be the tipping system in Canada. It was something which I had to adjust to.
Did you have any fears before going on exchange?
It was my first time ever overseas so I had quite a few fears regarding things such as getting there safely but also just general fears about what the people I was living with would be like and how would I cope with the workload.
Did you find it easy to make friends? How did you integrate yourself with the locals?
Yes. I went along to lots of events run by the host university and made many friends both locally and internationally who I became very close with throughout the duration of my exchange.
Did you have any difficulties during your exchange?
I had a death in my family. This was a very hard period of time in my life considering I was on the other side of the world. But with the help of the friends I made while on this exchange I managed to get through this difficult time and continued to make the most of my time in Calgary.
Describe a typical day:
I would wake up early for class. Go to the dinning centre with my friends. Go to classes. Come back do some study. Then go and hangout with the friends I made while on this exchange.
What has been the most rewarding part of your exchange?
I found the experience in general really made me grow as a person and helped me become a lot stronger within myself. I was so grateful for this experience because I have been able to make friends who have truly become close friends of mine. As well as getting the amazing experiences of skiing in Banff and Lake Louise which are located in the Rocky Mountains.
What was the highlight of your exchange?
It was definitely some of the most amazing experiences of my life! Getting to meet so many great people from all around the world and getting the opportunity to experience what it’s like to live in another country and on my own.
What is your advice to exchange students:
Don’t sit in your room and do nothing like I witnessed people do while on exchange. Make the most of everyday you have in your host destination. Explore the destination and go along to all activities hosted by your university! This will help you make friends which in return will make you feel more comfortable in the exchange experience. It will make the experience more enjoyable too.