Hugo – Queens University – Canada
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Fine Arts
After several stressful months of preparation for my semester abroad at Queen’s University Canada, my exchange experience was a life-changing journey which made each stressful moment of preparation worth it. After a hectic morning at Brisbane airport, my fellow QUT exchange student, James Clayton, and I made the journey to Toronto. We were immediately indoctrinated into Canadian culture as we travelled to the Muskoka region where we spent a few days at a family friend’s lake house. Beautiful lake views and summer lake activities with new Canadian friends eased us into a new culture and our new home for the next four months. The next step of our journey was to see the sights of Toronto. We were swept into bustle of Canada’s largest city and we were able to experience some of Canada’s greatest landmarks such as the CN Tower, Town Hall and we even experienced a Blue Jays game!
We finally arrived in Kingston several days later where we would start our new lives as Queen’s students. My accommodation stress continued as I arrived in Kingston without a place to live. After several nights in a hotel, I was finally able to secure a quiet apartment with two roommates whilst James moved into a big student share house. We were situated right in the heart of the student district and eager to join Canadian university life. After several days of moving in and exploring the quaint yet energetic city of Kingston, we were excited to start our new semester at Queen’s. Although the first experiences as Queen’s students were not highlighted by lectures and classes, but instead, they were highlighted by the NEWTS (New Exchange World Transfer Students) orientation. NEWTS connected us with fellow exchange students from around the world and even transfer students from around Canada which I can happily say was the basis of my most memorable friendships established whilst in Canada. NEWTS made us feel at home with friend building activities, city tours, a formal, the paint party and even a concert to round off our orientation week. The week was rounded off with a massive street party where Queen’s students gathered on University Avenue to let loose and have fun one final time before the semester commenced.
I found this sense of student community the biggest (and most exciting) difference between Canadian and Australian university life. As we were in a small university town, there was a buzzing presence of students and university life in every aspect of Kingston. We lived inside the eight-block radius of the student district (or as we called it, “The Student Ghetto”) which was an energetic hive of students. Throughout the week and throughout the semester, there were continuous activities, parties and events throughout the student district which really brought us into their university culture. Meanwhile, attending QUT located in the inner city and suburbs of Queensland’s most populated city, I’ve never experienced such a tight-knit community of students with such an immense pride for their university before. The most extravagant example was Homecoming weekend. Students threw extravagant parties in the name’s sake of their university. Students flocked to the streets kitted in their Queen’s University merchandise, chanting Queen’s fight songs, hanging banners slandering rival universities and coming together in university comradery. I will always cherish this sense of student pride and community.
Academically, Queen’s was just as rigorous as QUT. My entire courseload was extremely assignment heavy. I was continually driven to submit weekly essays, reflections and work in groups for weekly case studies which I felt prepared to do so due to my similar workload at QUT. I had a range of interesting lecturers who taught marketing and business strategy, consumer behaviour and brand management. I enjoyed their lectures and many of them very much enjoyed my alternate perspective on marketing and branding principles as an Australian. A humorous example was the Vegemite-Cadbury cross promotion, which to Canadians seemed like a disgusting failure of brand cross promotion but as an Australian, I explained that this was actually a successful marriage of two iconic Australian products. I will always remember the lectures of esteemed Marketing Professor Kenneth Wong who taught my Advanced Topics in Marketing class. He was energetic, humorous and theatrical and taught me essentials of marketing strategy such as the Employment Rule. This rigorous courseload of continual assignments were met with many days in the main library where I studied with my new group of friends.
However, these days in the library did not hinder the experiences I wanted to gather through travel. With my new friends, I was able to travel throughout Canada and North America and step into their lives. I experienced Toronto multiple times and was adopted by the families of many of friends. During the mid-semester break, myself and several other exchange students took the chance to see British Columbia where we explored Vancouver and hiked in Whistler to see some of the most beautiful mountain sights I had ever seen. My love of sport also drove my travel desires. In a moment of spontaneity, I joined a group of British exchange students on a trip to Syracuse to see a college football game. I took every chance I could to indoctrinate myself into hockey culture, catching several Kingston games and befriending students from Toronto who indoctrinated me as a Maple Leafs fan. I was also able to travel to Denver to see my beloved Denver Broncos play an NFL game.
With all these incredible memories and traveling experiences, I will forever cherish the friends I made at 18 Elm Street. I never felt a moment of home sickness and was overwhelmed with feelings of welcome and belonging and I owe that to the incredible people of ‘The Embassy’ (The nickname of our friendship group as we were from all over the world). They took me under their wing and made me feel at home for four months. I will always hold these memories of my 2022 Semester exchange close.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.