Studying Law at Dalhousie University and the Canadian Experience

I attended Dalhousie University from August to December 2015 during the fall semester. Overall the exchange experience has changed my life by opening my eyes up to the world, and given me a different perspective of my life in Australia.

Dalhousie University is based in the city of Halifax, located on the east coast of Canada in the province of Nova Scotia. Halifax is a relatively small city, with a population around 400,000. However this population increases greatly during the university semester, as thousands of Canadian students move to the town too study at the city’s multiple universities, Dalhousie being the largest. This large influx of students makes Halifax a fun and vibrant place for any Australian students to visit.

pic 1Choosing Canada as my exchange destination, I anticipated that I would experience much colder temperatures than I am used to in Australia. Halifax had its fair share of ‘freezing’ days, with temperatures falling below 0 degrees every other day. I was able to experience several days of snow, which is always a novelty for anyone from Brisbane. As the winter clothing I would use in Brisbane was not going to be enough, I decided to purchase heavier duty winter clothing while in Canada. I would recommend waiting until you travel to the cold climate to purchase winter clothing, as your destination will likely have cheaper and better quality clothing to offer.

While living in Halifax I stayed off-campus in a house with 4 other exchange students from around the world. The house was located within 10 minutes of Dalhousie and the city centre. Initially, the prospect of sorting out accommodation in Halifax while I was still in Australia was daunting. Luckily the university was fantastic setting up a Facebook group of other exchange students where you could organize shared accommodation. We used a website very similar to Gumtree,, to find our accommodation. Given that Halifax is very much a university city, there are plenty of accommodation options for students staying off campus. The house was more than big enough, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a large kitchen and living area. The monthly rent was $800 per person, which was on the more expensive side in terms of off campus accommodation. However this rent did include all utilities, which could have proved costly given the need for heating in Halifax.

pic 2The cost of living in Halifax will depend on how you prefer to spend your money. As the rent I paid was relatively high, I chose to live modestly when it came to my weekly budget. My weekly budget was $150, which covered me for food and any other desired activities. Living off campus, I had to prepare and cook all of my own meals. For food I would make a weekly trip down to ‘Sobeys’, the Canadian version of Coles and Woolies, which was only 5 minutes from my accommodation. When first arriving in Halifax, there were several things I had to buy for the house, including pillows, sheets, towels and kitchen equipment. I purchased all of these items at Walmart, a great place for bargain shopping, located around 20 minutes on the bus from the city centre. Internet and a phone were two important things that I also had to organise when I arrived. Having wireless internet in our house was surprisingly affordable, with our internet provider Bell charging us $50 each month for unlimited downloads. For my phone, I set up a prepaid account with Rogers using my own phone, and only spent $15 a month for calls and texts, relying on WI-FI to access the internet. The only other major expense I had in Halifax was purchasing the required health insurance from Dalhousie.

While at Dalhousie I studied 4 law electives, those being Health Law, International Law, Conflicts of Private International Law and Criminal Procedure. Law school is quite different Dalhousie, with the classes being much smaller than any I had previously done at QUT. The smaller classes allowed me to get to know my classmates more and have even greater access to the professors. The way courses were delivered at Dalhousie was also vastly different to QUT. Each course had 2 lectures each week with no tutorials. All but one of my courses delivered these lectures without the visual aid of a power point, something I was accustomed to coming from QUT. Additionally, the only assessment of the semester is a final exam worth 100% of your grade. The differences between studying at Dalhousie and QUT made it far more difficulty than I had anticipated. However I undertook the challenge willingly, and spent the first few weeks adapting to the learning methods of Dalhousie. If I had to do the semester over again, I would have chosen to lighten my workload and only do 3 subjects, given that I had to adjust the way I learnt drastically and at the same time trying to accustom myself to life in Halifax. Overall I believe that my experience at Dalhousie, and the knowledge I acquired, will help me not only in my QUT studies but also in my future career.

pic 3Being able to spend four months in Halifax allowed me to explore everything it had to offer. Halifax has plenty to offer in terms of nightlife, with a huge range of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Ice hockey is also a must do in Canada, and going to watch Halifax’s home team the Mooseheads was always a great time. While Halifax is small enough to get around most places on foot, public busses also ran in regularly, providing an easy way to get around. One of the best things about living with other exchange students is being able to share this experience with them. All of my housemates were eager to see the city and travel around Nova Scotia. In fact, one of the highlights of my entire exchange experience was a weekend road trip with my housemates to the beautiful Cape Breton Island in the north of Nova Scotia.

While in Halifax, I also grew very accustomed to Canadian culture. While most Australian’s find freezing winters unappealing, Canadians instead revel in the cold. For them, living in the cold is a part of the Canadian identity, and fits in perfectly with their national sport of Ice Hockey. Canadian cuisine also varies from Australia as a result of their cold winters. I could not count the number of times I visited a Tim Hortons, Canada’s national café chain, for a hot chocolate. Poutine, which is as simple as fries covered in cheese and gravy, is another Canadian specialty that was a regular meal of mine. Being able to experience various parts of the Canadian culture made the exchange experience that much more rewarding, and has given me even more reason to visit again in the future.

pic 4In describing my exchange experience to others, I have a habit of using the same phrase – life changing. Being able to live in another country for an extended period of time and become accustomed to another way of life was as challenging as it was rewarding. On my exchange, I was able to improve my personal skills and meet plenty of new people, make some lifelong friends and see a unique and exciting part of the world. Studying in another country has also greatly enhanced my education experience and given me different learning skills that I will be able to apply to my study at QUT. I also believe that my international experience will appeal to future employers in the globalised world we currently live in. I would strongly encourage other students to undertake a university exchange in order to experience life in a foreign culture and enhance both their academic and personal skills.

Clarice’s South Korean Short Term Exchange – Summer ’16

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Summer Program 2016 

Originally, it never crossed my mind to apply for the summer program in EWHA Woman’s University when my friend from Singapore told me she had applied for it in January; but then I received the email about opportunities in the short-term mobility program from QUT and I thought, “Why not?”

EWHA Woman’s University is located in Seoul, South Korea around Seodaemun and is a very large and beautiful campus. The campus has a convenience stores, different places to eat depending on your mood, a gym, library and my personal favourite: the sleeping area, where the students go to rest and sleep during particularly stressful semesters.

This is the main feature of EWHA University: the “walls” that actually houses all the tutorial rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, a very big auditorium, convenience stores, a few cafes, a gym, library, computer room, optometrists and many other things.

EWHA University - "The Walls"

EWHA University – “The Walls”

This is also actually a major tourist landmark and you would often see tourists just come and take photos of themselves standing on this very spot (which can be rather obstructive for those of us running late to class).


For the summer program, I took up Korean traditional history and Korean Language classes (which were very tough but at least I can read Korean now). The one thing that stuck out most to me during my time in EWHA was the fact that they put a lot of emphasis and encouragement into empowering women to be excellent in their respective fields, and be dignified feminists.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

Even in such a short time in EHWA, I have realized my identity as a female who would go out into the world to make a difference, no matter how small, without losing myself. It is a wonderful realisation to know that you are not alone in trying to figure yourself out amongst so many supportive females in one place and to have a sense of belonging even in a university which I was in for only a month.

Find out more information on QUT’s Short Term Study Options.

7 Questions from Americans

There is no question that there are many cultural differences between Australians and Americans. Being the complete other side of the world from on another, we experience different climates, holidays, and ultimately very different lives.

I have been in the United States for just under a month now, and have met a countless number of young American men and women in my time living at Michigan State University. In my time here thus far, I have come to find that nothing lights up the eyes of an American college student like hearing the sweet sound of an Australian accent.

After they get over the initial shock of being in the presence of someone who truly is from the land down under, the questions start coming. As a result, I have compiled a list of seven of the more humourous questions that have been asked of me in the past month:

1: Where is your accent from?
You never truly notice your native accent until you are placed in a completely different environment. I have been in elevators, Uber rides, classes, shops and restaurants where people are quite visibly astonished (and most of the time fascinated)  by the way that us Australians speak. I’ve turned it into somewhat of a game, where when asked this question I let them guess first, and have had many responses ranging from England to Germany, and Turkey to Mars.

2: Sorry, what did you say?
Often the other Australian exchange students and myself have found that we need to repeat ourselves in order for people to understand what we are saying. Whether its a “Hey, how’s it garn” to “Can I please have a water?”, many Americans struggle with understanding our accent. But both parties in the conversation end up laughing about it – it’s all fun and games.

3: Want to throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate?
To this one I always use a canned response – “We call them prawns, not shrimp.”

4: Do you know Flume?
From the very first house party (of which there are many) that I have attended so far, a lot of American students have asked if we know Flume. Whether they meant personally or his music I am still not sure, but that is a frequent question that I and the other Aussies abroad often get asked.

5: Have you tried (Taco Bell/Chipotle/Conrads)?
Americans are very fond of their token fast food chains. In answering this question, I have to admit that all of the above are incredible foods for the early hours of the morning after a night out, but I would question their quality at any other time of day.

6: Have you seen snow?
Personally I haven’t seen real snow before, which gets most Americans rather excited. Being in Michigan, I often get the warning that I am “in for a real treat” with a cold Michigan winter.

7: Do you celebrate Christmas?
I saved my favourite question until last. It is hard to say why this question amused me so much, and for them to think we are too far removed from the rest of the world to know about Christmas. In their defense, this question came soon after me admitting we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but it has nonetheless been my favourite question to date.

There is a real difference between our cultures, but at the end of the day the Australian-American interaction is an educational, hilarious, and absolutely amazing one. I honestly can’t wait to see what they have to ask next.

Until next time!

Choosing Denmark and why this was the best decision

Denmark has always held great importance to me and my family and this held significant part in my choosing to study at the University of Copenhagen. However, academically UCPH was a wonderful opportunity for me to start to study areas of science that I had a particular interest that were not technically part of my current degree at QUT. Also UCPH enabled me to study areas of reproductive science, which was not available to me at QUT. Upon arrival, I was a mess of emotions after leaving my family behind, however it didn’t take me very long to get my bearings. Denmark is certainly much a multicultural country as Australia and everyone speaks impeccable English, so the effects of cultural shock hardly played any part in my adjusting to Danish society.  I had chosen to stay in a refurbish boathouse in a place called Frederiksdal, which is located 1hr via train north of the center of Copenhagen. This house had been in my family for almost 120 years and is now being looked after by my 2nd cousin. Having this opportunity to live in the house my grandmother (who passed when I was very young) was a wonderful experience. Living with not hot water or heating was certainly a challenge though.

pic 3Lyngby is a suburb within the greater Copenhagen region, which is where I lived for the majority of my exchange. I lived in a large late 19th centaury house, which was surrounded with forest, and a canal ran alongside it. From my home it took me an hour via bike to get into university. Every morning I would go for a walk through the forest with the dog (‘Bluey’, who was my great- aunt’s Australian Blue Healer while she was on sabbatical for the year in northern Jytland) before adjourning to university via bike.  I can definitely say I had a distinctly unique experience as I was living among Danish society rather than in a dorm surrounded by other exchange students. This gave me more motivation to learn the language and made me try harder to make friends outside of university classes. I registered to play hockey at the local Gentofte hockey club which was a short 20min bike ride away, as well I also decided to give kayaking a go. My mother was a commonwealth medal kayaker before falling pregnant with me when she had to give up her Olympic dream. She had trained and competed with the same club (Nybro) that I signed up for. Her trophies are still on proud display along with my grandfathers and great-grandparents. It was here at these two sporting clubs that I made the majority of my friendships. Having Danish friends also made learning the language and getting involved in Danish culture so much easier and far more enjoyable.

pic 4Denmark is an extraordinary country full of colour and history. My favorite part of the country was definitely the castles and the distinctive fairly tale atmosphere. Whether you are actually exploring the many spectacular castles and grounds or strolling along ‘Støget’ and ‘Nyhavn’ you definitely get a sense of magic and whimsy about the place. You get a feel for what Hans Christian Andersen saw and what inspired him. I fell in love with Denmark when I visited as a little girl and living there made me fall deeper in love with the culture and its people of whom I now consider myself one. The Danes however can appear to be very standoffish people. There is a distinct sense of ‘I will mind my own business, you mind your own.’ They often come off as very angry and self-absorbed people, however once you get to know them they are the happiest most loving and appreciating people in the world.

The university of Copenhagen Nørre Campus where I spend all of my academic experiences reminded me a great deal of home and especially of QUT Gardens Point and the new P building. With modern buildings and huge glass windows everywhere. All of my classes were held in the BIOCENTER, which is the universities main center for biological sciences. Here I studied a number of various subjects including, bioinformatics, marine biology, artic biology, genetics, biotechnology, aquatic animal physiology and developmental biology. I decided to continue to study all f my subjects in English, which ended up being my only choice as at a master’s level all science subjects are in English. While I had really wanted to study in Danish, which by the end of the year I was quite fluent I felt that it would probably have been a huge feat to learn words like oocyte and zygote in Danish. The method of teaching in Denmark is not quite so dissimilar to Australia in terms of lectures, practicals and tutorials. However rather than having semesters the academic year is split into 4 terms (2 units per term), so there is a lot more information crammed into the term than if it was to be spread over the semester. There is also a very big difference in the examinations at UCPH, where rather than having multiple assessments throughout the semester and then a final exam there is usually only the one piece of assessment in Denmark, which counts for the total of your grade. Also there is a great emphasis on oral examinations over written ones. This was particularly hard for me as I get very nervous presenting in front of people and find it difficult to think quickly on my feet. This is the area I think I definitely improved the most on in my whole exchange. UCPH is definitely well renowned for its science and mathematical degrees and research. In particular there are some great researchers in partnership with the hospital, which is located over the road, who are investigation stem cell research and advancements in assisted reproductive technologies.

pic 2Budgeting for my exchange was a great headache for me as during the first two years at university I was very much stuck in living paycheck to paycheck and now having to save for my trip was a great learning curve. I during my second year before my exchange I started working three jobs to be able to save enough and still live comfortably. Denmark is a very expensive place to live so taking into consideration the rent, food, mobile, sporting fees, gym fees, transport I decided I needed at least $15000 (including flights and residency permit fees). I also wanted to travel and have fun while overseas and took into consideration travel cost, and entertainment costs. In the end I managed to save $9000 in the year before my exchange and with the OS-Help scheme was very comfortable and happy to proceed with my exchange without needed to apply for jobs while overseas. While overseas I opted to open a bank account in Denmark as it just made using my money so much easier and cheaper not paying international transaction fees and being their for 13months having the bank account there was just more convenient.

Maintaining safety in an unfamiliar environment is essential for anyone considering an exchange. I was very lucky to have family around and some wonderful friends who were always able to help. Most importantly especially for the drinking and partying age it is really important to make sure that you are drinking in a safe environment and have people around that you know will look after you when you are not in the right mind to do so yourself. Trusting your gut instincts is also an essential part of maintaining your safety. I was lucky never to encounter any situations where I ever felt unsafe. Even when travelling around Europe a friend always accompanied me and we always had each other’s backs.

pic 5One essential item to have on exchange is definitely an open mind. Regardless which country you go to you will always encounter things that you find strange, whether it is the local cuisine or culture. Another very important item is a working smart phone. Without this it makes it hard to communicate with family back home and if you are ever in a difficult situation you need to be able to call for help. Some helpful travel tips that I have for anyone who is considering an exchange would be plan everything in advance. If you are planning to travel around outside of your host country plan where you are going and where you are staying, as there is nothing worse than arriving in a country late at night and not being able to find somewhere to stay. Also I am a big advocator on the buddy system, while it is fun to be alone it’s always nice to be able to share experiences with someone.

The exchange program has been one of the most difficult, stressful, wonderful and life changing experiences of my life. Academically I have grown incredibly in the last 13 months, being able to study subjects that involve the career path I want to take made me try thrice as hard in all of those subjects. Knowing that my results wouldn’t impact my GPA was also a huge relief as I was able to fully enjoy myself on exchange and not stress as much on how I was performing academically. I would definitely recommend the student exchange program to every single student as you make incredible life long friends all over the world and get to meet some phenomenal people. However I would not suggest an exchange to someone in his or her last year of student or last semester depending on your desired length of exchange. Also I recommend a 12-month exchange over the 6 months, as I don’t believe you get to experience everything that culture has to offer in merely 6 months.

Welcome to SUNY Oswego!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetIt’s hard to believe I have almost been at SUNY Oswego for almost one month! The past few weeks have flown by, and it’s safe to say I’m so happy with my decision to study abroad at SUNY Oswego for the semester!

Everyone on campus is so friendly and helpful, even though some beg to hear my Australian accent on demand.. It’s so easy to make friends and be involved on campus, there is honestly something for everyone.  Unlike at QUT, I am heavily involved on campus with clubs such as Del Sarte Dance, Her Campus (an online magazine), the social soccer team as well as the sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. There is never a moment to spare, there is ALWAYS something on!img_5837

The college puts on many events, especially during the first few weeks of the semester. At most of these events you’ll find free fairy floss, popcorn, pretzels, photo booths, snow cones, bull riding, therapy dogs (yes, you heard right) and even build-a-bears.

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Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI attend classes five days a week, which has probably been one of the biggest adjustments so far, in addition to the teaching style of classes. I personally love the way the classes are taught here, as participation and attendance is compulsory and included in your final grade. I feel as though I am taking much more from the classes than I ever did at home as class sizes are relatively small and you get to know your professor very well.

Before I came to Oswego, one of the biggest concerns I had was what the food in the dining halls would be like. Let me tell you, they’re absolutely amazing!! Everything and anything you could ever want is on campus, it takes a lot of strength to resist over eating. The highlights so far in regards to food has to be the UNLIMITED ice cream parlour at Cooper dining hall or the chocolate milk on tap. You can request wraps to be made for you, omelettes, stir fry’s, etc. You name it, they have it!

Another one of my absolute favourite things about SUNY Oswego is Lake Ontario, which is directly behind where I live (Scales Hall). Just a few steps outside my dorm I have witnesses some of the most breathtaking sunsets in my life. The lake is absolutely magical, however I doubt I will be agreeing with this once winter comes along.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

My dorm room was much bigger than I initially expected, I have two sets of draws, a desk,  bed, mirror, lamp and wardrobe. Although I would have loved an American roommate, I am so happy with my Spanish room mate- we’re already best friends!


My dorm room

I could not be happier with my decision to study abroad for a semester at SUNY Oswego. I have already made so many special memories and life long friends in just under one month. I’m already sad to leave this place even though I have another three months to go!

If you have any questions at all about SUNY Oswego, please email me ( I would be more than happy to help. I could talk about this place for hours! You can also follow me on Instagram (@bellajackson) to follow my adventures this semester!

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Frosh Week at Bishop’s University

My semester at Bishop’s University is now well under way and I couldn’t be happier about it!

field dayIt all began with Move-In Day where I was greeted by friendly students, happy to help carry my bags to the top floor of the residence building where I’m living. Here I have a room to myself which comes with a single bed, dresser, desk, chair, bedside table, closet, and sink, as well as a bathroom that I share with my roommate next door.

first football gameAfter moving in, the university organised some events and activities to get to know the other students. Here I met group of friends who I spent the rest of the day with which meant going to the first football game of the season (or in my case, my first Canadian football game ever), then hanging out in one of the apartment style residences, before heading out to a party in a house occupied by a group of upper year students.

The following day marked the beginning of O-Week also known here as Frosh Week. This meant choosing our teams for the week. At Bishop’s this was not just a spontaneous decision. We’d been introduced to the different teams and leaders over social media in the weeks leading up. We were then encouraged to speak to every team before making a decision to join the one that best suited what we wanted to get out of Frosh Week. Every team had a name which combined the theme of the week (School of Rock) with the university. The team I chose was ‘Rich Homie Gaiters’ (the students and sports teams here are called ‘Gaiters’), and I’m so glad I did! I had an absolute ball with this team, made some great friends and met some incredible people.

field day team photoOnce the teams were picked, Bishop’s didn’t slow down the whole week. The week consisted of opening and closing ceremonies, parties every night, crazy challenges to win points for your teams, concerts, a scavenger hunt across town, a glow-in-the-dark run, a dance battle, singing the school song to the principle outside his house one night, seminars, panels, tours, movie night, play auditions, games and much more!

massawippi shoreAs if there wasn’t enough excitement already, I got to celebrate my birthday during Frosh Week! Before coming to Bishop’s I expected that with having just moved to a new country, I wouldn’t scavenger huntknow anyone well enough to properly celebrate it this year. However, I was so wrong. My lovely new group of friends decided to surprise me with a personalised cake they had made that day, and I was sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to by the entire Frosh Week student body, before we partied on that night.

Frosh Week has been one of the most fun-filled weeks of my life and even though it’s now over, my life at Bishop’s is just beginning.remember how you entered

Living in Berlin

Chloe: HTW Berlin, Semester 1, 2016

I spent Semester 1 of 2016 on exchange at HTW Berlin, Germany. I chose to study in Berlin because I had visited the city with my family in 2011 and fallen in love with the culture and the historical significance of the city. I did not know anyone else going to Germany, so I was very nervous. I arrived in early March for 3 weeks of orientation before classes began in early April.


Reichstag Building (Parliament Dome)

I did not speak any German prior to moving to Berlin and this was a huge challenge throughout the semester. Very few people spoke English and a lot of the administrative information was only provided to us in German. I had to sign a lease in German as well as organise a phone plan, bank account and apply for a Visa extension. Fortunately the exchange office at HTW was very helpful with translation problems and made things a lot easier for us.

Dorm Room

Dorm Room

I was lucky to be allocated to one of the student dormitories, so I was able to make friends very quickly. Living in the same building as so many other exchange students was the best decision I made, as it allowed me to settle in a lot faster. The international dormitory was on the outskirts of the city, so it took around half an hour to get to the university campus and about 45 minutes to get into the city. Being located in the fast East of Berlin was very interesting, as all of the architecture was reminiscent of the Russian presence during the Cold War.

Dorm Kitchen

Dorm Kitchen

Why I chose to study at The University of Hull

When I first arrived at the University of Hull, I was incredibly overwhelmed with my new surroundings. My student accommodation was one that you saw in movies; all the houses on my street were identical. However, once I had unpacked and settled in and met my new housemates I instantly loved it. Starting off as complete strangers, you would not believe how close you become after the semester has finished. It was like a little family was formed. Living in a student house was one of the best choices as I had the opportunity to live and experience a variety of cultures. My roommates were from France, America, Germany and the Ukraine. So you can imagine what the family dinners consisted of.pic 3

I initially chose Hull as I had heard through friends and family that Hull had a reputable business program and a strong exchange relationship with QUT. This partnership assured me that this exchange semester would improve my Business studies and educational development.

Hull itself is small town located in Kingston upon Hull, a city in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is renown for its professional football team and its famous cheesy chips. Although it was only a small town, it gave me the opportunity to become good friends with the locals and create life long friendships. Hull is also conveniently located about an hour away from Leeds, which allowed me to travel to Dublin, Copenhagen and Edinburgh all for around 20 pounds. It was also an overnight ferry trip to Amsterdam, making weekend trips a must. Hull was also extremely affordable. Many items were considerably cheaper than the South, especially the nightlife.

 I didn’t really have an initial budget for my exchange. I decided to go over with the approach of having ‘no regrets’ and knowing that Hull was known for its cheap prices really did help. On average, I would spend approximately 120 pounds a week which including weekly grocery shopping, clubbing nights out, taxis, home cooked family dinners and the occasional recovery meal of cheesy chips.pic 1

I would definitely recommend travelling whilst abroad!! Make the most of your time overseas as it goes incredibly quickly. Make sure you don’t get lazy and too comfortable, keep remembering where you are in the world and travel as much as possible (while still studying and passing, of course). Make the most Ryanair’s 20 pound return flights to Europe. Like everyone says, the world is your oyster and it’s what you make of it. I was lucky enough to travel throughout the June/ July break as the Hull University semester didn’t start till late September. I explored many parts of Europe and honestly had the best 3 months of my life.

Also join a sporting team!! Wednesday nights were by far my favourite night in Hull. It was when each sporting team had ‘circle’, aka socials where socialise with your sporting team and then head over to the nightclub on campus where each team soon partied on. pic 4These socials involved horrendous dress up themes, which changed week to week and also the opportunity to meet other sports teams when there were joint socials. If you manage any spare room in your suitcase, I highly recommend packing some dress up options. These nights were seriously great, nothing better than a blast from the past (S Club 7) and current bangers like J Biebs.

One tip would be definitely packing your favourite Australian foods, snack and chocolates to overcome homesickness. Tim Tams is a must as these can be found in certain shops however for three times the price in Australia and also vegemite. You cannot go wrong with vegemite on toast for breakfast. Necessities like phone, cameras and laptops are also important as it is a great way to stay in contact with everyone back home.

‘Frosh Week’ at Queen’s University

So I finally arrived in Kingston, Ontario! After more than 30 hours travelling by planes, trains and buses, I arrived in my new beautiful home town to clear skies and unusually hot weather.

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My first day of orientation was faculty specific, so we were shown around the Commerce building and met other Commerce exchange students. This also involved participating in a Guinness World Record attempt for ‘largest human letter’, which Queen’s broke with 3,373 students forming a giant Q on Nixon Field!


Before arriving I purchased a ticket for ‘NEWTS’ (New Exchange Worldly Transfer Students) orientation – what a good decision that was. Not only did I get to meet other students from all over the world (and lots of Australians!) but we did a mystery road trip to Toronto Zoo, had our own Olympics and paint party in the City Park, and were introduced to and involved in Queen’s traditions – such as faculty cheers and a Tamming Ceremony. The rich Scottish heritage is definitely a major part of the university and is something I’ve never experienced.

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All in all, Frosh Week was unlike anything I’ve experienced and is something straight out of a North American movie! Queen’s students show a lot of pride and passion and I am so excited to officially be part of the Queen’s family – bring on the Fall Semester!

University of Calgary – O Week

It’s Sunday around 11pm and I’ve just completed O Week at the University of Calgary for Fall 2016. It’s been a great week! I know many exchange students decide to blog towards the end of their time abroad, however, I thought a running recollection of my time in Canada could be more beneficial, and honest.

I still don’t know a whole lot about Calgary as a city, or U of C as a uni, for that matter, but what I do know is that I am already in love with this place and the people. I live in Yamnuska Hall, the largest on-campus residential building at U of C. Yam houses mostly second year students from all over the place. My roommates are both from Hong Kong, I’ve met a Sri Lankan, Georgian (the country, not the state as he so often reminds people), Germans, Scots, South Africans and Dutch girls, oh, and Canadians. The rooms in Yam are bigger than I expected, quite new and in my case, quite messy. There is plenty of space and storage (you can’t seYam Hall roome in the photo but there is a wardrobe to the right of the photo). There is a great deal of support for students who are moving into residence for the first time including student volunteers that help you move all of your belongings to your room.


There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and fit into the Res life during O Week. I have great Student Representatives (SRs) who are responsible for organising events so that we have a great time. There is a meet and greet on the first night with other members on your floor, and perhaps more excitingly, the bar/club on campus, The Den, has a massive Move In party for Res students. (The Den is also renowned for it’s ‘Thursden’ nights but get there really early or really late so you don’t have to wait in line for 2+ hours.) On the SaturdayRez Rodeo the SRs host an event called Rez Rodeo which is essentially a competition between buildings and floors. Each floor has a theme (ours was Monsters University), you dress up as much as you want and participate in games to win for your floor. It’s a bit silly but it is again another great way to meet people and have a bit of fun.


The next few days are filled with Orientation and events where you get a lot Rexof free stuff! I did not attend any formal orientation events because a lot of the content was directed at first year uni students who are clueless about uni life! There is one event specifically for Exchange and International students which aims to ease your transition into Calgary. This event (I was told) was very informative and contained a lot of practical information about getting around the city. If you don’t attend for the information, you can meet some great people in your faculty, or get a photo with Rex the mascot for the U of C Dinos!


The biggest and most exciting element, in my opinion, are the sporting events during O Week! My second day in the city I attended a Calgary Stampeders (Canadian Football) game against their big rival Edmonton. This was unbelievable! The atmosphere was great and it is easy to make friends at the game because you have to ask a million questions to understand what is going on. There are fireworks, cheerleaders, JETS!, a lady riding on a horse and all the other stereotypical football things you can imagine. The stadium is walking distance so I just followed the crowd. I would recommend beer, merch and a jacket because it can get cold if the sun isn’t out. Oh did I mention merch? It’s big out here. Just buy some andKickoff go with the flow. I haven’t come to regret it yet.

The other big sporting event is the Kickoff game for the U of C Dinos against one of the bigger rivals, University of British Columbia. Before the game there is a tailgate party for U of C students (mostly) which has free t-shirts, food and face painting. There are also free fun activities, however I didn’t get the chance to participate because the lines for everything are MASSIVE! Seriously crazy. Entrance to the game is free for students but make sure you have your ID. Afterwards bars in the city tend to go off which is good and bad, I guess. If you’re up for clubbing then Commonwealth downtown is a good option but be prepared to pay cover and tips.


Generally, so far, so good. It’s quite easy to get around in Calgary with the bus stop and train station walking distance from Yam. There are only two train lines in Calgary so even I can’t get lost and ‘Plan Your Trip’ (like Journey Planner) for the buses. There are shops quite close to campus, although a bus or train is probably preferable over walking and lots of locations for food. There is a Dominos below me which will mean that I will probably be super fat by my return, however it is more expensive than back home. Also, coffee here sucks. Don’t be afraid to approach people and make friends – Canadians live up to their friendly stereotypes.

I’m also happy to answer specific questions (if I can) that you may have about U of C, Calgary or Canada (I traveled parts of the country before exchange). Please email me at and I will do my best to respond.