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About Katie

Hi! My name is Katie and I am a QUT Bachelor of Business (Finance) student who is currently studying on exchange in Canada at Queen's University. Follow me on my various adventures from meeting so many awesome Canadians and fellow exchange students to travelling through Canada & the USA through my blog. Should you have any questions about anything I post, fire away, I will be only happy to answer. Carpe Diem.

Life In Canada

Spending my Australian summer semester in a Canadian winter was definitely an experience I will never forget. When you come home you realise that our winter is officially ‘not cold’. Living in the Queen’s student ghetto also meant that I was only ever a few streets away from any one of my friends & I was also super fortunate to get along really well with my housemates.

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St Paddy’s Day is a crazy event / day at Queens. There are a lot of house parties & social events which occur throughout the day, along with a lot of street gathering. Its like a see of green. & nothing says its St Paddy’s day in Canada like keeping your beer keg cold in the snow combined with a house against house snowball fight in the backyard. IMG_6700IMG_6718

During winter Canada also presents you the opportunity to undertake a few tourist like past times which you would never really get to experience in Australia.

Like:
Going to see an ice hockey game. This I absolutely recommend, it was an awesome experience. It can be anything from your local game to an NHL game.

(Below picture: Toronto Maple Leaves vs Ottawa Senators)

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Build a snowman. Probably the most fun I have ever had with frozen water. I was super proud of my accomplishment. His name is Sebastian 🙂

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Go ice skating. In Kingston the local council flatten out sections of snow in the parks and in the town square to be used as ice skating rinks. So whether you borrow a friends or find a pair second hand, it is a must do winter activity that you shouldn’t miss.

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Be open to new experiences, throw yourself into your surrounding culture & don’t forget to just have fun!!! 😉

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Exploring the Great North!

Canada is a vast country its hard to pin point the areas to explore whilst on exchange in this awesome country.

For me, I started with the known areas which surrounded Queens University on the East Coast of Canada.

Montreal

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This is such a beautiful city!

So much culture, beautiful architecture (especially Old Montreal) and awesome food.

Climbing to the top of Mount Royal will give you a spectacular view of this breath taking city.

Ottawa

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In a way can be compared to our Canberra. There is the parliament house, the canal, lots of museums and BEAVERTAILS (to eat – like a cross between a doughnut & a churro).

Ottawa is a lovely quant city & I definitely recommend visiting and having a look around.

Toronto

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Dubbed the ‘mini’ New York of Canada there is a lot to see in this city. There is Rodgers centre if you’re looking to catch a game, the CN tower to view Toronto from a birds eye view & Yonge-Dundas square. There are also lots of shopping opportunities and great restaurants.

After my semester was over the opportunity to see the West Coast of Canada came along. I had always wanted to see the turquoise lakes that you see when your ‘Google Images’ Canada.

Vancouver

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This is another great Canadian city. The amazing restaurants who all serve wonderful food, the suspension bridge & tree top walk & Stanley park are just a few things to do and see.

Whistler

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In winter, this is a skiers paradise. In summer there is extreme BMX riding, a lovely quaint little village & some awesome night life. There are a lot of recreational activities such as canoeing, bungie jumping, zip lining & much much more.

Jasper & Banff

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These are amazing national park areas!!!!! The wildlife you get to see is awesome, from bears to mouse, elk to mountain goats. Definitely a recommended trip for those who make the trip out to Canada. There are also an abundance of lakes around the area, Lake Medicine, Lake Bow & the most famous Lake Louise & its Fairmont Chateau.

There are sooooo many more opportunities to travel through Canada, as it is such a big country. During the winter you can travel further north & see the Great Northern Lights, see polar bears & experience a true northern winter.

Canada is definitely one of the most beautiful countries I have been able to experience.

QUT Meet Queen’s University!

Going on exchange was something I always wanted to partake in should I ever get the opportunity to. When I applied for the QUT exchange program I was only in my first semester of my first year at QUT. The idea that it was go any further than the application phase wasn’t something that I could wrap my head around.

& then it happened!!! I got my acceptance form QUT that they were going to support my exchange and now I had to directly apply to my selected school, Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. At first I had no idea where this place even was (I had to Google maps it), & I was constantly being told I was crazy to apply for a winter semester in Canada. But being on exchange is all about the new experiences that you wont get at home!

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There were a lot of hoops that I had to jump through, particularly in relation to any needed visas, subject comparisons etc., so at times the process did feel never ending, but now when I look back on this time it all really happen so fast.

There are sooooo many different things you need to consider whilst completing the exchange process, like where am I going to live, what is the best way to get to my destination, do I want to have the opportunity to travel before or after my studies, what subjects am I going to be able to study, do I want to take equivalents or electives whilst on exchange etc. etc. Then on top of these questions you have the consideration of language and cultural barriers, and at times it can feel very overwhelming. But the main thing I learnt when you start to freak out about taking such a big leap is just enjoy the process, experience everything you can & don’t be afraid to ask for help!!

Now more about Queen’s.

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For those of you who are looking to go on exchange and are currently studying business, Queen’s university has one of the best commerce programs in all of Canada, and for the students who study here full time it is extremely competitive to get into. Having the opportunity to go on exchange to this university (without worrying about competitiveness) and utilising the benefits of its amazing program is truly one of the best decisions you can make (plus it will look AMAZING on your resume). As the Queen’s commerce program is also very diverse in the subjects they offer, I was able to match up 10 subjects that I could use as equivalents to my QUT enrolment plan plus a large pool of electives should I desire.

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The university grounds themselves are quite beautiful, with the older buildings being made of stone and having some awesome architecture. The commerce classes are a lot smaller than what I was use to at QUT, with my biggest class being around 35 – 40 people max. At first it was a little daunting, not being able to hide in a sea of people from the professors, but you soon learn that through their encouragement of class interaction these smaller classes are actually beneficial. The only way I can think to compare it to QUT classes is having your lecture within your tutorial, there are a lot of class exercises, interactive simulations and overall class interaction with the professors.

The exchange office is also great! They are more than happy for you to drop in at any time to ask questions or just have a chat about your experiences. When completing the application process they can also help with accommodation arrangements and questions you may have around subject selection and their availability. The Queen’s community have their own Facebook group with lots of different sub-groups including, housing, exchange specific events, and people looking to sell things you may need during your stay.

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(I promise its not always this snowy)

As for living in Kingston, surrounding Queen’s University is a community of student housing known as the “Queen’s Ghetto”. Its basically a relatively large circumference of houses which surround the university that are rented out to students throughout the schooling year (September to April). The community vibe that you get from living pretty much on campus, with a huge bunch of people who are in the same boat as you is phenomenal & highly recommended. Pretty much everything you need is within walking distance from this ‘Ghetto’ including groceries, uni, restaurants, bars, clubs etc. Plus Kingston is known in Canada for having the highest restaurant per capita within the city, and again most of these are on the main street of downtown, which is walking distance form campus.

I could keep going about all the amazing things there is to do and see here in Kingston and the opportunities Queen’s represents but then I’d run out of things to talk to you about later. So for now if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to send me a message 🙂

Don’t forget that you only live once and exchange is an experience that you will never forget!!!!