I was located in Calgary in Alberta, Canada. Calgary is about an hour drive from the Rocky Mountains. Canada is an excellent country to do exchange as Canadians are extremely lovely people! Canada and Australia are very similar in many aspect of everyday life. The dollar is relatively the same and a lot of everyday tasks reminded me of home. The scenery in Canada no matter where you go is incredible.
University of Calgary is a great place to go on exchange as they have an excellent exchange program. There are heaps of exchange students and the exchange office helps you out with whatever you need. There is on campus living which is great and helps you to get to know locals and exchange events which help you to get to know exchange students!
I stayed in university on campus accommodations and I would recommend doing the same if you go on exchange to the University of Calgary. There are a few places to stay and I found my accommodation on the exchange student’s website and after receiving an email from the university.
In on campus living there are many options you can choose from. While I lived in the 2nd year building (Yamnuska Hall) I would recommend staying in either Cascade or Aroura Hall for a few reasons. Even though on the website it says all building are exchange student buildings most exchange students stay in these two buildings. Also these buildings both have full kitchens whereas Yamnuska Hall only has a kitchenette (no oven).
I did four subjects while on exchange. This was one thing that I found was very different to back home. The way university conduct classes and what they expect of you is very different from QUT. Firstly, nothing at this institution is recorded i.e. no classes are recorded. Also attendance was marked in most of my classes including lectures. Secondly they have very strict rules about the use of phones and laptops for off topic things and some of my lecturers even called people out in a 300-person lecture hall who were on their phones. I found the structure a lot like high school. Thirdly I found in assessment they told you how to write something rather than what to write about which is different to how QUT does it. All in all though the tutor and lectures are very personable and you can see them during their office hours and they will assist you if you are struggling.
I think the University of Calgary has many strengths and anyone going on exchange should seriously consider choosing this institution. It is in a great location if you are looking to explore Canada with many great places and things to do spitting distance from the university. There are also a lot of clubs to join with one for every interest. As well as this public transport is included in the university’s fees as well as gym access. The university is known for its engineering program although I believe all programs are worth going for.
I budgeted $12,000 for my exchange and found that I used every bit of it. Quite a bit of that budget was spent on travel as I did many trips around Canada and the US before, during and after my exchange.
I found that the cost of living in Calgary compared with the cost of living in Brisbane is relatively the same with most things like a night out, groceries, fast food, clothes costing around the same as they would at home.
For the time I spent in Canada I just used my travel card and Australian credit card. I found this was easy and had no issues and was much simpler that going through the hassle of opening a Canadian account for the amount of time I was there.
My only travel tip is make sure you are organised. Have an idea of what you want to do, where you want to go and if this will work in with your actual uni work! But make sure you do as much as you can!
One item I couldn’t live without is my travel card.
I found it a very easy transition into Canadian life and did not experience much culture shock at all. I found Canada to be a very safe country and at no point during my exchange did I worry at all. The only challenged I faced while overseas was homesickness. I was only for a little bit now and then but I have been away for about 4 months when I started feeling it the most. Although it passed when I got out and explored Canada some more. Another thing that might be a little different is the cold. While I really enjoyed the cold weather the right winter jacket is essential.
I feel like going on exchange is something every university student should experience. It has helped me grow immensely as a person. It also helped to appreciate QUT and the way it conducts it assessment.