Helaana A., Bachelor of Business and Engineering
Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada (Semester 1, 2018)
I just finished my exchange at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. My experience abroad was rewarding, exiting and fun but a little different than I expected, and I quickly realised I was a little unprepared.
Kingston is a small town and most of the population are students. This means university life was crazy and fun. The highlights were homecoming and Halloween. There are heaps of exchange students at Queen’s, there were around 200 students in the business program alone for the fall semester. This was a great opportunity to make plenty of friends from different places, this is what made the experience the most fun and rewarding.
The school year starts in the fall semester so the first week is an orientation week. Exchange students can participate in NEWTS week. This was a great way to get to know the other students and I’m glad I signed up, but it was clear the week was designed with 17 or 18-year-old Canadian high school graduates in mind rather than exchange students of all ages.
Throughout the year there are lots of activities put on by the university. They have intramural sport teams that anyone can part, I played soccer and dodge ball with a bunch of other exchange students. It was a fun thing to participate in and a good way to expand your network. It’s also cool to go and see a football game!
Study life at Queens University
The university system is a little different from QUT. I studied business and marketing subjects at the Smith School of Business within Queen’s University. The classes were very small with around 30 students and everyone had a name tag.
There was lots of group assessment and presenting, even more than I’m used to at home with 4-6 assessment pieces per class. I went in expecting not to study at all but sadly I had to spend a little time on uni work. When presenting in class it was expected that students wear full corporate clothing (they were lenient towards exchange students).
Kingston is only a few hours from Toronto and Montreal, and its close to a national park great for hiking. There is also a huge lake that all the students swim in when it gets hot.
In terms of accommodation subletting a room off-campus on one of the Facebook groups is your best bet. Since it gets cold and the public transport isn’t great, living as close to campus as possible is preferable. The on-campus residence option is expensive and far from main campus.
I wish I had prepared a little more for the different temperatures. I didn’t bring any summer clothes and when I arrived in August it was 35 degrees. I also I wish I had some snow boots of some kind. Other than packing it was easy to assimilate to life in Kingston, Canada is pretty similar to Australia in terms of culture and cost of living.