Cooper – Queens University, Ontario – Canada
Semester 2, 2022 – Semester 1, 2023
Bachelor of Business
One of my goals while studying at QUT was to go on exchange, and one of the main reasons I chose the Bachelor of Business – International course. In 2021 my exchange was cancelled due to Covid. In this moment I thought my dream of studying overseas was over. Lo and behold I studied part time, reapplied, and went on exchange for 9 months over the Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 semesters at Queen’s University in Canada. Reassessing my studies to ensure I was able to go on exchange was one of the best decisions I have made as it was a truly life changing experience.
The first thing I would say about going on exchange is that preparation is key. I would focus on sorting accommodation before you as it is a difficult task in Kingston as most local students have their accommodation sorted well in advance. It took a few months of scouring Facebook groups (get started even before your exchange is accepted) but I was able to find a place with 3 Canadian students for the year and what a result that was! I knew many exchange students that were living with other exchange students amongst themselves, but it was truly awesome living with locals and getting the authentic Canadian experience. 252 Forever!
Kingston was a very welcoming place, and the university provided many opportunities to make friends. In my first week I connected with many fellow exchange students through the NEWTS Orientation Week program. It was great to meet likeminded people who were all in the same boat as you on exchange. With friends I met in this program I was able to travel to Montréal, Calgary and Banff!
Another amazing community of people that welcomed me in during my first month at Queen’s were the Nooners. This was a group of footballers who would meet on Tindall field from 12pm – 2pm each day during the week to play a game of pickup soccer (or the indoor courts during those -30°C winter days when it isn’t recommended that you go outside). A tradition that has carried on since the ‘70s. This was a great way to meet fellow Queen’s students and even staff and alumni and further integrate into the Queen’s community.
My Favourite Cities
Kingston was a great location to be on exchange for the year. It was a thriving university town that was always busy and hosted some of the best University wide celebrations I have ever witnessed in Homecoming and St. Patricks Day. Furthermore, it was only a 3hr coach away from Toronto and Montréal in the other direction, which were some of my favourite cities to travel to.
Toronto is a beautiful busy city with a lot going on. Some of my best memories in Toronto included going to music festivals, spending Canadian thanksgiving with my housemate’s family on a farm and going to TFC and Blue Jays games. Montréal was another amazing city I was fortunate enough to travel to on a few occasions. It was quite different to Toronto, it was culturally rich and a very fun city to explore as a student as it was cheaper and had great nightlife!
Despite all the fun that was to be had, Queen’s was challenging academically and, in my experience, required more contact hours than studying at QUT. The main difference I noticed was that they have more frequent assessment pieces that aren’t worth as much in weight but are due almost every week. This requires some time management but once I was used to this, I got on fine. They also love a group assignment which can be time consuming, but I found it a great opportunity to befriend more of the local students. One subject recommendation I would make is ‘Relationships and Reconciliations’ with Lindsay Brant which delved into the Indigenous history in Canada and I found it to be very interesting!
My final tip for studying at Queen’s is participate in Intramurals and join clubs! The student community at Queen’s is very active and there are a lot of opportunities to play sport, the main one is playing in the student league intramurals. They have competitive and recreational leagues for any sport you can think of, and this was one way I was able to stay fit and make some friends, and also win a few champions t-shirts. Finally, there are so many clubs available to join at queen’s, some I would recommend are the Queen’s Album Club that host fun music-related events, as well as the Outdoors Club which provide opportunities to camp, hike, climb and explore the surrounding areas as well as go on Ski. One bonus travel tip … under pack! Especially for warmer clothes, the thrift stores over there are unreal and so cheap – shoutout Value Village and Talize! So, if you need a winter jacket don’t buy one in Australia wait until you get over there.
Overall, going on exchange was one of the best decisions I have made while studying at QUT as it gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone, explore the world and make lifelong friends on the other side of the planet!
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.