Flinders Degree: Bachelor of International Tourism
Program: Semester exchange Semester 2 2016
Destination: University of Calgary, Canada
“Be brave and study abroad! It was the best decision I’ve ever made!”
I can’t pinpoint one highlight, this whole trip was amazing! From the weekend trips to the mountains to the nights out with my new friends, everything was amazing and so much fun! Skiing on the other hand was a very interesting experience. It was my first time and I absolutely sucked! It was very rewarding when I finally made it down the slope (that took me 2 hours, because it was a blue slope not a green!)
All of [the exchange experience] was rewarding for me. I was completely out of my comfort zone this whole trip, from living by myself to making new friends and experiencing a whole new country on my own. I feel like I’ve grown so much from this and I can’t wait to get home and get organised to possibly move out on my own!
Academically, this semester was very rewarding as I took on 2 fourth year topics (I’m a second year), they were challenging but also very fun and both led me to knowing now what I aspire to do once I graduate. I had all electives, so I chose topics that were very different and out of my comfort zone but that I knew I’d find interesting, and they all were! I was very lucky.
Before You Go
Major fears! I’ve never lived out of home, I’m not that great in social situations and I knew I would miss my family so so much. Living on campus was a breeze, I had great roommates and there’s plenty of help available. Surprisingly, I made so many friends and wasn’t shy at all! This experience brought me out of my shell majorly. And although I missed my family immensely, I knew I would be heading home very soon and this trip was a once in a life time opportunity, so I sucked it up and tried to love every minute of it without worrying too much about home.
The University of Calgary had an orientation week for first year students, however exchange students were encouraged to attend the events as well. As well as this, there was a separate international student orientation day to provide students with all the information they will need.
- The work load compared to Flinders I feel depended on the individual topic. In North America however, they have midterm exams that make up for a large portion of the grade, and usually less assignments. For 2 of my topics for example, I had only 1 assignment, 1 midterm and 1 final exam, however another topic I had no midterm or final exam and several assignments. The workload seems harder and like there’s more, but the grading is MUCH nicer than Australia, it’s not hard to get a good mark at all.
- The library and online databases and sources were all available, we had access to all facilities on campus as well as receiving a “U-Pass” which is the public transport pass for students.
On campus housing – Living on campus was the best thing I could have done, I met so many amazing people and had the experience of a life time! You’re able to be involved in lots of activities and it’s great being so close to classes (especially in the winter months, classes are a 10 minute walk max and there are tunnels that lead throughout the university so you don’t have to be outside the whole time in winter). Living on campus was an amazing experience.
- Housing Cost
AU$1000-$1500. Meals included.
- Living Expenses
I didn’t need that much (as I ended up having less than I anticipated) and managed to do everything on a budget, yet still had an amazing time and great memories! I believe I had roughly $3,000 – $3,500 (which was pushing it), yet I still have money left over and I still did a bit of travel with that as well.
- Typical Day
I would wake up, make some vegemite toast and depending on the day I would go to class or get straight into studying. I had 3 classes that were at night time, which meant I had Monday, Wednesday and Thursday all day free to either study or go explore! I also had Friday’s completely off, which was usually spent in bed recovering from Thursday night (the campus bar/club has a Thursday party every week, which was always too tempting).
Honestly Canada is not that different from Australia, except the people are way nicer! The stereotypes of Canadians are so true, everyone I met was lovely. The major difference was the weather! Being in -20 degrees Celsius was a big change, yet it was an experience I’m glad I had! Although it seemed it, it didn’t feel that cold – especially if you’re dressed appropriately.
- Making friends
Yes making friends was very easy, Canadians are so lovely and easy to get along with – and they love the Australian accent! The best thing to do is just put yourself out there!
I struggled a lot with home sickness because I had never been away from home before, and I have 2 baby nephews that I used to see almost every day – getting used to not having them around was very hard! My friends were amazing though and always made me feel better and at home when I was down.
Advice to Flinders Students Thinking about Overseas Study Opportunities
Be open minded! You will attract all the right people. Meet other people on exchange, mostly all of my friends were other exchange students from all over the world! But I think the best advice is to go in with no expectations, because everything you experience will blow your expectations out the water! The whole experience is amazing and will make one of the best times of your life, go at it with all you have!