Annabelle – University of Calgary – Canada
Semester 1, 2020
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Science
On my exchange to the University of Calgary in Canada, I made lifelong friends and had so many once in a lifetime experiences. It was truly one of the best experiences of my life to date, and I highly recommend this university to anyone who loves to travel, and is looking for new experiences!
Calgary is a truly beautiful city, and is in a perfect location (in my opinion) within Canada. Situated near the Rocky Mountains, it is the perfect place to stay if you want to travel during the semester. As it is only an hour away from Banff and Lake Louise, I visited these tourist hotspots many times during my stay in Calgary, as well as venturing out further into the Rockies and into the British Columbia countryside. However, prepare for freezing temperatures in Calgary, as it was often below -10 during the time I was there, and rarely did the temperature rise into the positives. While this is a downfall, you adapt to it pretty quickly and become very much used to the weather! Plus, it’s perfect for skiing and sledding!
I chose to stay in the on-campus residence halls at the University of Calgary, which was the best decision for me personally. By staying on campus, I was able to make friends much easier, and had much more access to on-campus resources. I chose to live in Yamnuska Hall, which is typically the 2nd year student building, however it has quite a few international exchange students as well. I was incredibly lucky, and was placed with an incredible roommate, who very quickly became one of my closest friends, and introduced me to so many other students at the University. While living on-campus, I also chose to purchase a meal plan to limit my costs and food waste during my stay. The food served in the Dining Centre was surprisingly always really good, and they generously catered for all diets and food preferences.
University of Calgary academics
The University of Calgary is a terrific university. I truly learnt so much during my studies, and interacted with many different professors and students. It runs pretty differently to QUT, with a much higher lecture attendance rate and many more opportunities to meet with your professors to discuss the course content. Lectures are not recorded, and sometimes the lecture slides are not uploaded online, and attendance often counts towards your final grade, so you really have to attend and take notes to succeed in the units.
The best thing I found while at the University of Calgary was their school spirit. I attended so many hockey and basketball games, most of which had packed audiences and a great culture. These were a big highlight of my time there. I highly recommend going to the Crowchild Classic hockey game if you’re there in the winter semester, as this was an incredible show of school spirit, and was just a really fun experience all round.
The International Student Society (ISS) also offered many events for exchange students to participate in, including ski trips, a Banff trip, and many more. These are really great to participate in, particularly the Banff one, as they’re generally cheaper than travelling around by yourself.
My favourite part of the exchange experience, was the people I met while over there. Canadians are lovely people, and are easy to make friends with. As I was lucky enough to make friends with some people from Calgary, I had the incredible opportunity to go on road trips on weekends and during the mid-semester break, visiting towns like Invermere, Banff, Edmonton, Revelstoke and many more, which was definitely a major highlight of my experience. In Invermere, we were able to skate along the world’s longest ice skating trail! I also did a bit of travelling before the semester started, visiting Quebec (highly recommend), Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Montreal and Toronto which was an incredible experience. My main advice would be to not worry too much about planning every week out, as some of the best experiences are spontaneous and can’t be planned. Also take every moment in, and do as much travelling as you can while you’re there, as you never know if your trip is going to be cut short by a global pandemic!