Experiencing Danish ‘Hygge’

Tayen L. Bachelor of Business
University of Aarhus, Denmark (Semester 1, 2018)

International Dinner in Our Backyard

Exchange feedback… Wow! Where do I even begin? First of all, for my exchange experience, I chose to go to Aarhus university in Denmark and I’m so glad that I chose it, as I have met some amazing people and had some really life changing experiences! In my opinion, Aarhus does not get talked about enough! It is essentially a student city where everyone is so welcoming. There are always events happening, so you don’t really have a lot of time to be homesick.

The accommodation

For my student accommodation, I was able to choose what kind of accommodation I wanted to live in. There was a choice between dormitories, apartment styles or living in a house. I remember this being quite a hard choice to make, but because I have lived out of home for many years, I decided on choosing the house option because I didn’t think I would like to live with as many people as dormitory style living offered. I assumed I’d be living with 4 or 5 others in a cute little Danish house. Boy, was I wrong! When I received my housing offer, I was granted my first choice of a Danish house… but there were going to be 12 others living in the same house! Safe to say I was a little shocked that a house could fit 13 people in it and then immediately became concerned as this was essentially what I was trying to avoid when I made my decision.

Lucky for me though, living in a house with 12 others actually turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I have left Denmark, not just having some cool housemates, but with a global family! Everyone was so welcoming and we all soon became very close. Our house was the place to be! We would constantly have people who were living in dorms or in apartments tell us that our place was so much fun and that they were jealous of the close friendships we had all formed as housemates and that they were struggling to ‘mesh’ with their dorm or apartment mates. To any future students, I would HIGHLY recommend choosing the housing option, because the experience is amazing, and it gives you the ability to form friendships like no other! Plus, the house was a 30 minute walk to the business school or a 9 minute ride. And Danes ride their bikes everywhere, so you’ll want to be like the locals and get yourself your own bike! (You won’t regret it!).

My House

The weather

Going to Denmark in the Spring semester was incredible because I not only got to see the entire university covered in snow, but I also got to see it bloom with flowers. Two very different experiences, going from all white to all green! Although it was very cold in the winter, Danes would still get out and do things and go to bars with candles and eat nice food. All of this was a very ‘Hygge’ experience, which is the feeling of cosiness, being with good friends and can only be felt but not really explained. In the Spring, when the sun finally came out, we’d often spend our time down at the beach or going for coastal rides!

The grading system

The university system is so different to Australia, because instead of having assessments due every 6 weeks which are worth a certain percentage of your grade, they have one assignment or exam which is due at the end of the semester and is worth the entire grade. So, if you don’t pass your last assessment, then you don’t pass the entire class! I found this a little bit hard to deal with and ended up failing one of my classes I took while over there, as I’m used to the Australian system where if I don’t do quite as well in one assignment, I have a chance to make up the marks in other assessments. So that was a different experience for me! Having said that, it did allow me to really engage with the culture and enjoy the experience. The mentor program for business students was significantly better than other faculties. We had so many introduction week events and meet ups that made my experience even better!

Campus Grounds

Living in Denmark is fairly expensive, but I did find a lot of things to actually be quite similar to Australia and some things which were considerably cheaper.

TIPS:

Learn some basic Danish

Practice a little bit of Danish with Duolingo or another app that makes it easy & convenient. I can almost guarantee you won’t feel confident in speaking the language, but you will feel less overwhelmed when you walk into a supermarket for the first time as you’ll have a basic ability to read Danish (and Duolingo covers some food and basic greetings which is VERY helpful in your first and future Danish supermarket experiences!) Also, I would recommend not greeting people with “hi” as the Danish greeting is “hej” and it sounds very similar so they will assume you are Danish and speak Danish to you. This leaves the both of you feeling embarrassed when you have to tell them you only speak English! Also not learning the language is totally fine as well, as every Dane speaks perfect English, you just may have to tell them that you don’t understand Danish! So don’t stress if you don’t get a chance to learn it, you’ll pick it up as you go!

Get a bike

Seriously. Danes bike everywhere and you’ll soon learn that your fellow international classmates will always bike everywhere too because it’s easier. You don’t want to feel left out or be the only one not going somewhere because you don’t have a bike. You could always bus but this is expensive and it’s significantly faster to actually just bike to places! Also, be warned that your jeans will eventually give in and rip on the inner leg area from your constant bike rides!

Danish Houses and their Bikes

See the City

Try to get out and see more of Denmark than just the city if you can. Denmark is a really beautiful country and surprisingly has some amazing cliffs and sand dunes (despite the fact that everyone says it is a flat country with no mountains). Hire a car if possible. (Note if you do this, it is significantly more expensive if you tell them you are a temporary resident and have a CPR number, you’re much better off booking the car from your home countries website for Denmark and then applying a student discount- this will allow you to get unlimited mileage when you hire a car and will be MUCH cheaper.

Aarhus Cathedral

Embrace the Hygge

Embrace the feeling of Hygge and you’ll really get to experience what Danish culture is about. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain, but you’ll know it when you feel it. It’s cosiness. It’s friendship. It’s love & warmth. It’s hot chocolates. It’s togetherness and it is just something so hard to explain

Go to international nights & other events

They are a lot of fun and a GREAT way to form some lifelong friendships. Danes can be a little reserved and respect personal space, so going to these events is a great way to mingle with some Danes and learn about their culture first hand

Road trip to the Danish Mon Klints with my exchange friends

Go to the eat street markets

If you go to Aarhus university, Eat Street markets will become one of your go to places for meeting groups of people and enjoying great food together!

Aarhus City Centre

Waking up to England!

Gina O’Donnell, University of Leeds, England (semester 1 2017)
Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Creative Industries

Upon my exchange at the University of Leeds, in semester 1 of 2017, I learnt many things about myself and the world surrounding me. Going on exchange with a friend from Queensland University of Technology, I felt at ease having a friendly face with me on this epic journey. But soon learnt that being a duo may have been our downfall as people assumed we did not need to be invited to halls events etc. But I was able to overcome this by putting myself out there, making sure I was out of my comfort zone and made life long memories with amazing people.

A lot of these people however were themselves exchange students, I found myself shocked at the little interest the local people in Leeds had in people from other countries. An interesting prospect considering majority of their population is immigrants. It became more prominent as well after beginning my classes and I started to realise that the classes I did not have my exchange friends with were hard to make friends in. People had already formed their own group of friends and were exceptionally unwelcoming to newcomers. As I had already made my own group of friends this did not worry me, you can’t please them all.

What I did enjoy about my classes was experiencing the different teaching styles offered at the University of Leeds. One lecturer in particular absolutely astounded me going above and beyond any other undergraduate level of teaching I had experienced. This particular lecturer really shone through and definitely made me happy with my choice of host university.

Another great aspect of my exchange experience was staying on campus and in the Halls. Not only could I get up 5 minutes before a lecture and take naps in between classes, but I was also surrounded by interesting people. We did lots together dinners, birthday parties, party, errands and most importantly TRAVEL.

I cannot begin to tell you what it was like to travel to a different country nearly every weekend, other than it’s a worthwhile experience. The reason I chose the University of Leeds is because it had it’s own airport and it was close to pretty well everything in Europe.

Also the town of Leeds itself is BUZZING. A small University town with your rival University being Beckett, but it’s also a lot of fun. They always have something going on in the centre and great student deals pretty much everywhere.

I’m not trying to talk up the University of Leeds, but simply the whole exchange program. You get the proper opportunity to live and study in a different country, with government support. WHY WOULDN’T YOU. Wake up, this may be the best thing you ever do.

Aussie among the Brits: My semester abroad

Sarah K. – Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws
University of Leeds, England (Semester 2, 2016)

I had the time of my life studying at the University of Leeds during Semester 2, 2016.

Leeds is located at the centre of the UK in the Yorkshire region, about 315km North of London. It is an awesome student city which meant cheaper living costs (especially compared to somewhere like London!) and the opportunity to meet heaps of university students.

The University of Leeds was really great, and incidentally while I was there, it was awarded University of the Year 2017. It was my main choice because it provided a lot of subject options which allowed me to match up all of my law and business units. It was also interesting listening to lecturers with English, Irish and Scottish accents. Different to QUT, lectures are compulsory and your timetables are configured for you, there is no option to design your own schedule. The university also offered hundreds of different clubs! I joined a number of societies, notably the ‘Leeds Snowriders’ skiing and snowboarding society. Being a member allowed me to go on the university ski trip to Andorra, located on the border of France and Spain, which was an absolute blast.

In England, after graduating from High School, most students will move cities and live in on-campus student accommodation Halls for their first year of university. During my semester, I opted for catered living in Devonshire Hall, which was only a 15 minute walk from campus and looked a lot like Hogwarts. I cannot recommend student accommodation enough – you’re living with hundreds of other students just like yourself, which makes it so easy to make friends!

Devonshire Hall consists of several houses with both catered and self-catered students. My house had 10 people in it including myself, one other Australian exchange student, one American exchange student and the rest were all English students. Being catered at Devonshire Hall (or ‘Dev’ as it was quickly termed) meant that breakfast and dinner were always social occasions used to catch up with friends and plan weekend adventures. The food was pretty good but prepare yourself…England LOVE potatoes! Dev was also a really social Hall with frequent social events, quiz nights, movie nights, hall sports teams and drama and music groups. University accommodation allows you to meet so many different kinds of people from your home country as well as international students. Besides connecting with a lot of Aussies, some of my closest friends came from various places around England, New Zealand, Iceland, Netherlands, Japan, Denmark and many more.

I chose England for the location of my exchange because of its location within Europe. Other than the friendships I formed, travelling was what I loved most about exchange. I managed to fit in travel before, during and after my semester. I loved the ability to meet people from different countries and experience a variety of cultures. Exchange allowed me to be independent and self-sufficient whilst also completing my studies and it’s something that I think everyone should experience – you won’t regret it.

Skagen, LegoLand and Studying in Denmark

Julie U., Bachelor of Business/Laws
Aarhus Univeristy, Denmark (Semester 1, 2016)

 

My name is Julie, I am a business and law double degree student now in my third year at QUT. In Semester 1 of this year, 2016, I went on exchange to Aarhus University in Denmark. Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark and has a very high student population. The university attracts not only students from all over Denmark, but also from many other parts of the world. There are many exciting museums and historical places to see in Aarhus, including the popular Aros museum with a 360 degree view of the city.

The university campuses of Aarhus university encompass many of the facilities we are used to at QUT, but the buildings and lecture rooms are less modern. Students in Denmark spend a lot more time on Campus then I would say majority of QUT students do. Reasons for this most likely being that Aarhus is a much smaller city, students generally live 10-15 minutes by bike or less from the university, tuition is free and students are paid government grants in excess of AU$1000 per month to study which means less need for part time work. I also found that I had a lot more contact hours in Aarhus, and there was more self-paced work that you don’t receive credit for as the final exams are all worth 100% of your grade.

The international student organization at Aarhus university was really good at running events to keep international students connected, and held weekly parties for to mix and mingle with other international students as well as some Danish students. The introduction week at Aarhus was a blast and the friends I made in that first week were with me through the whole semester.

Accommodation in Aarhus was very varied. Some international students really liked the accommodation that had been delegated to them, and others were less impressed. I had one roommate in a fairly modern apartment building that was a little further away from the center of town than I wanted but the facilities at the apartment were great and I had friends who lived close by.

Denmark is a Scandinavian country, and therefore not a cheap place to live. Not everything is expensive though. Alcohol is ridiculously cheap compared to what we are used to here in Australia. Getting take-away on the other hand is quite pricey, so you need to learn to cook your own meals most nights. Lunch at the University canteen is however good value for money and allows you to try traditional Danish dishes and other warm, home cooked meals that keep you going during the freezing winter months.

 

That brings me onto the next subject, weather. I began my exchange in January, it was very cold compared to what I am used to, but the snow made it an exciting change. After the snow period however came the rainy, dark and cold period. The weather did get a little depressing at times during the winter but the summer time in Denmark and Europe was well worth it. The sun is up until very late in the evenings and there is plenty of things to see and do around Aarhus outdoors.

The highlights of my exchange trip are difficult to narrow down, but would include; Trips to Skagen and Legoland, exploring Copenhagen and traveling around Europe with other exchange students, riding my bike everywhere around Aarhus and finding the love of my life who I convinced to move to Australia with me.

Exchange at Cardiff University

Jasmin C., Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Creative Industries
Cardiff University, United Kingdom (Semester 2, 2017)

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is a beautiful, old, tiny city with the friendliest people. In the middle of the city centre sits the medieval Cardiff Castle, one of the first things I saw upon arriving. I was so amazed by this castle, sitting right in the town centre amongst the modern shops. Little did I know it would be the first of MANY castles I would see during my time in the UK. Just across from the castle, my favourite store in the entire city; the Welsh cake shop. Absolutely scrumptious. As well as this, the shops in the city are great, lots of art, vintage and old record stores.

Just a few minutes walk from the city centre is Cardiff University. Unlike QUT, Cardiff University does not really have a campus. The buildings are spread out around the city, which wasn’t really a problem because the city is so small anyway. The tutorial and lecture situation was pretty similar to QUT, however most of my lectures were not recorded (yikes) and powerpoint slides were not always uploaded onto blackboard, which meant attendance was pretty crucial. As well as this, unlike QUT where most of my subjects required multiple assessments, all of my Cardiff University subjects had huge (5000 words) 100% assignments due at the end of the semester.

There are many student accommodations around the city. The one I stayed in was called Talybont South, located 20 mins away from the city centre and within proximity to the university buildings. Luckily for me most of my classes were held in the building that was only a 5 minute walk away, however the furtherest buildings were a 20-30 minute walk away. Talybont South was known for being the nosiest of all the student accommodations, it didn’t bother me much but if you’re a light sleeper I would suggest trying for one of the other student accommodations.

I stayed in an ensuite dorm with a kitchen I shared with 7 other people. My roommates were made up of 6 UK locals (4 Welsh, 2 English) and one other exchange student from the USA. Within 24 hours of living together we all became the best of friends. It was great being able to live with locals as I definitely would not have been able to learn and do as much as I did without them. One highlight was being able to spend New Years Eve with one of my roommates and her family in her home in Swansea. In fact, the highlight of my entire exchange was just being able to get to know and hang out with incredible people I never would have been able to meet if it was not for this experience.

There are lots of things to in Cardiff. As I mentioned before, the castle and the shops are great. As well as this there is Cardiff Bay, National Museum Cardiff, and lots of parks and gorgeous greenery, just to name a few. However if you’re wanting to leave the city there are so many places you can go. In Wales you have Swansea, which is only a 40 minute train ride away and lots of tiny, adorable Welsh towns to explore, my favourite being Laugharne (pronounced Larn). Bristol and Bath are only 1 hour away and if you want to go to bigger cities London and Birmingham are only 2 hours away on the train.

Tips and advice! Tip number 1: $$$!! You’ll have to buy a lot of things upon arrival, pillows, sheets, duvet, cutlery, plates etc. Definitely budget each week, you don’t want to have to miss out on doing anything or travelling somewhere due to lack of funds. Cost of living in Cardiff was pretty similar to Brisbane. Other advice would just be to try and stay as calm and positive as possible. You will definitely have a few struggles. Fortunately for me, my only struggles were that the classes I had planned on taking were unavailable which led me having to find other classes to take and the process took a while so I ended up being a few weeks behind in my classes. However, the tutors were very helpful in helping me catch up and it all turned out fine. As well as this, I was lucky that I got along with my roommates and they really made me feel at home, and so I didn’t get homesick at all. Finally, make the most of your time!!! I couldn’t believe how fast the time went. My only regret was that I only stayed a semester and not a whole year!

Reconnecting with Friends and Family all over the World

Sylvia L., Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries
Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany (Semester 2, 2016)

Student exchange is one of the things you have to experience in your life. Even if you don’t know the language, it is worth it just to immerse yourself in another country’s culture, meet new people from all over the world (free accommodation when you’re travelling in their country now!), and truly a fun experience overall.

I undertook my student exchange in Darmstadt Germany, at the Hochschule Darmstadt studying Animation and Game. Not many people have heard of Darmstadt despite it being the headquarters of the European Space Agency, and students from the Graphic Design faculty at Hochschule Darmstadt recently had the opportunity to design the logo for the 2018 ISS mission. Located near Frankfurt, it was very easy to travel around Europe, which of course I did. Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Austria, England and even more.

German Christmas Markets

Some people have the idea that Germans are very unfriendly, I beg to differ, with the exception of bus drivers. The number of methods they have to cook potatoes is unbelievable and I truly miss all the cake and bread, especially the bread, nothing compares. While I was there I got to experience the Christmas Markets which Germany is famous for, they were absolutely magical and I discovered my love for potato pancakes and apple mousse.

Heaps of places to travel

Personally I felt that uni was easier in Germany then Australia. The system there allows you to retake exams if you fail them and I found there was a lot less pressure because of that. I really enjoyed my units there, especially the games methodology lecture where 50% of the time it would just be the lecturer playing games on the original NSES with lots of references to modern gaming thrown in.

The people I met over there were what made the trip truly worth it, especially those that you know will remain life-long friends despite the large distance between you.

Catching up with old friends and family

Another highlight of my trip that I am extremely grateful for that student exchange allowed was reconnecting with friends and family from my childhood. Spending time with my cousins in France and England, staying with old neighbours in Berlin and Benshiem, eating dinner with my grandmother’s family along the Rhine, those were the best moments.

I highly recommend for everyone to go on exchange. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you learn and gain so much knowledge, connections, and an unforgettable experience.

Montreal – the number one student city!

Sneha M., Bachelor of Business and Laws (Honours)
HEC Montreal, Canada (Semester 2, 2017)

When I realised I was going on exchange I was a whole lot excited and a little bit nervous! I had never lived overseas before for starters and my best dish consisted of toast. My partner institution was HEC (Hautes Ecoles Commerciales) in Montreal, Canada. While my classes were in English, French was the main language spoken in Montreal. Equipped with about 3 duolingo lessons I packed my one suitcase and off I went! Luckily however, nearly everyone in Montreal speaks English, in fact, they want to practice English so much you may not always get to try out your French!

My experience did not start off on the best note. My flight from Brisbane was delayed by four hours, which meant I missed both of my connecting flights. When I arrived in LAX for a stopover my phone stopped working and my next flight was delayed. On my final leg from Toronto to Montreal, the passenger behind me was severely sick and had to get medical treatment before we could fly out! I ended up arriving in Montreal with no one to pick me up at 4am, a day later than expected. This also meant I spent the first and only day before orientation week getting my phone fixed, getting some warm clothes (as it was -14 degrees) and grocery shopping.

The next day orientation week began and it was jam packed full of activities including going to an outdoor spa in the snow, laser tag, snow tubing, pub crawls, hikes, ice skating, parties and much more. Needless to say it was really fun but so exhausting I caught the flu. I think experiencing challenges so early in my exchange made me take initiative and get organised really quickly which made the rest of the trip so much easier.

I was really lucky my roommates were also attending HEC. This made the whole experience better because we had similar schedules and could travel together. I definitely recommend going to Montreal if you want to travel. It’s only a short bus ride to New York and Boston and a few hours further to Washington DC. I also got the chance to visit the Rocky Mountains on the West Coast of Canada and Iceland during spring break which were both simply breathtaking .

Montreal was voted number one student city in the world for good reasons! It has plenty to do and a great atmosphere. While on exchange I went to Igloofest a music festival with intricately carved ice bars, bonfires and great music. It started snowing halfway through the night, which just meant everyone had to dance harder.

 

It can sometimes be difficult in winter where some days it was -19. It’s really important to layer, because underground and inside it can get really warm with central heating. Montreal has an extensive underground metro system as well as shopping centres and an underground mini city! Good shoes are also a must as you can be trekking through deep snow to get to uni! Canadians are tough and uni is hardly ever cancelled unless there is a major snowstorm.

A word of caution though, HEC has a very good reputation, but that also means the courses are quite difficult. Instead of using electives, I was able to complete compulsory finance subjects. The format is quite different with no online lectures and three hour classes that combine work as lectures and tutorials together. Take advantage of the consultations and make sure to study throughout the semester as most exams are worth 60%! One elective class I took however was Social Innovation in the International Area. This subject requires us to work with a Social Innovation group or project in Montreal to meet specific aims. It was amazing to see the social enterprises people from across the globe are involved in.

The friends, skills and memories I have gained from Montreal and my time at HEC was invaluable. I am so grateful and humbled by exchange experience. I can’t wait to visit again!

A Year in the Land of Hygge!

Marcus F. Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Creative Industries
Copenhagen Business School (Semester 2, 2017) and University of Copenhagen (Semester 1, 2018)

For the past year, I have embarked on a two-semester exchange in Denmark, the home of Nordic Noir, Danish design, pleasing pastries, and the omnipresent ‘hygge’ – or cosiness. Slightly unusually and thanks to QUT’s Exchange Office being very flexible, I was able to attend classes at both Copenhagen Business School and the University of Copenhagen. This allowed me to experience units relating to both halves of my double degree.

At both universities, the classes and standard of assessment I took was relatively similar to what I’ve experienced at QUT. However, in Denmark there is a much greater focus on independent learning and conversational input during class whereby students are encouraged to contribute their opinion on the content raised. Something to note is that the majority of classes are not recorded and so it’s a good idea to try and attend lectures and tutorials as much as possible! Specifically, while away I studied Visual Communication, Marketing: The Essentials and Trend Drivers, Consumer Behaviour and Statistics at CBS and Scandinavian Film and Television, and Digital Strategic Communication at KU.

One real difficulty for many exchange students, particularly in Copenhagen, is sourcing accommodation due to the limited availability of rooms as well as financial cost. Fortunately, I made sure to get onto the booking system as soon as possible and during my first semester I lived at Kathrine Kollegiet in Frederiksberg and Bikuben Kollegiet in Islands Brygge during the second semester. Both rooms were located in close proximity to the universities and were very spacious, containing a small kitchenette and en-suite bathroom. It was really interesting to be able to live with both a mix of different exchange students during the first semester as well as primarily Danish students during my second semester.

Upon arrival in Copenhagen the city’s beauty really struck me, with clean streets and a striking mix of contemporary and traditional buildings stretching as far as the eye could see! After a long and chilly winter, the city really comes alive with everyone leaving work early to enjoy the long summer evenings by the canals or barbecuing in one of the many parks or at the beach.

Like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is a very cycle-friendly city and I would really recommend purchasing a bike at the start of your stay. It’s a worthy investment in the environment and overall fitness (to work off those Danish pastries) with the added bonus of reducing reliance on public transport. One of my favourite experiences was when my friends and I completed a 50km circuit around the outskirts of city to see the ‘Forgotten Giants’ an installation by Danish artist Thomas Dambo consisting of large wooden giants dotted around in a number of spots in the forest.

In my opinion, Copenhagen is a highly liveable city and you are never short of things to do. However, a benefit for me and many of the other students I met was also the ability to travel easily to other destinations in Denmark and Sweden as well as wider Europe. A couple of real highlights for me were an Easter cruise to St Petersburg, via Helsinki which was organised by the Erasmus Student Network as well as a holiday on the small Danish island of Bornholm.

Whilst it may sound clichéd, my year in Copenhagen has truly been the experience of a lifetime. The opportunity to meet such a variety of people and experience life in a completely foreign city has been invaluable to me and undeniably been beneficial for both personal and professional development. I’m really looking forward to going back in future!

A Canadian Experience

Lachlan L., Bachelor of Engineering/Mathematics
University of Calgary, Canada (Semester 2, 2017)

My name is Lachlan Leech and I study Electrical and Aerospace Engineering and Computational and Applied Mathematics at QUT and I was fortunate enough to go on exchange for one semester to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I attended the University of Calgary (U of C) as of September 5 to December 21, 2017. However, before arriving at my new home I spent a month travelling around Eastern Canada to experience the best that Canada has to offer. That being, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montréal and Quebec City!

Upon reflection, living and studying in Canada for six months was without question the best time of my life; I can finally understand why everyone who has been on an exchange has similar thoughts! Based solely on my experience, even though Canada is a Commonwealth country and therefore has a lot of similarities with Australia, there are still vast differences. These differences ranged from architecture, costs of living, climate and people to people culture. I found that in Canada, their architecture ranges from technologically advanced buildings to historical chateaus and castles such as their Fairmont hotels and French buildings, whereas Australia mainly has modern buildings as seen in Downtown Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. I found their cost of living to be similar to Australia however their housing, food, gas, and transport is cheaper. The only shock I found about Canada, even though I was expecting it was the climate. In Calgary, the climate was constantly fluctuating due to the Rockies to the West and the farm lands to the East, to the point whereby one day could see temperatures of 10 degrees and then go to -20 degrees the next! I experienced an amazing culture shock which was evident in their citizens. Canadians and Calgarians in particular are without question the most amazing and kind-hearted people in the world; always kind, respectful and always helping their follow citizens and tourists through any situation.

In terms of the U of C, I found that life on campus was quite similar to QUT with respect to class sizes, rooms and the method as to which a unit and degree is delivered and taught by professors. However, there were vast differences that were evident between both universities. I found that the U of C is more like a mini city due to the fact that they allow boarding on campus, whereas QUT doesn’t. With this, the students are more connected and are seen as more of a family. They also have all amenities on campus such as Dentists, Doctors, Convenience Stores, Restaurants, Stadiums, etc which was amazing. In terms of Academics, Canadians are expected to get grades greater than a pass (>= 60%) to proceed to new units and as a result of this system, they bell curve! I found that to be a big difference and quite harsh on students considering that they usually take 5-6 units per semester and not 4 like at QUT!

The greatest highlight I had in my time in Canada was meeting people that I know are going to be lifelong friends. From frosh week they were all so fascinated with Australia and all wanted me to experience the best of Calgary, from seeing Hockey matches to exploring Downtown Calgary; the University of Calgary, whether it was going ice skating at Olympic Stadium or seeing their Dinos play football; even to close by places such as the Rockies (hiking around Banff and seeing Lake Louise).

Obviously, my advice to students considering going on exchange is to go. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will change the way you look at the world as you’ll be immersed into another culture that will surpass all your expectations!

 

American College Life at Fordham

Julia M., Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries
Fordham University, United States (Semester 1, 2018)

The experience of university in America is extremely different to that of QUT. Everything from the method of teaching, grading and assessment to the college spirit and club involvement was entirely different. My favourite aspect of life at Fordham University was the spirit and enthusiasm that students had towards their school. The campus was covered with flags and statues of the school mascot (a ram) with the huge football field covered in maroon and white (the university’s colours) branding. They even had a store with everything you could ever think of (including baby clothes and dog bones) Fordham branded. People were proud to wear these items, in contrast to at home where you rarely see people in QUT outfits. It was awesome to experience this first hand, and you really felt like part of a community where everyone knew each other and people cared.

The biggest and most challenging difference was the way in which assessment was completed and graded. At home, we usually have 2-3 large assessments for each subject, whereas at Fordham we had a very small assessment due almost every week. Although there was more assessment, I found it easier to get good grades, as the teachers were more lenient with their marking. They do not use criteria sheets and just mark off what they think you should get. There is also no moderating, which caused students to prefer certain professors to others as the marked the work easier. I found this very unusual and strange to deal with at first, as it was hard to know what the professors were looking for when marking my work. I quickly got used to it and found that it was easy to get an A with a little effort. Attendance was also very important. In one of my classes, attendance counted towards 25% of my final grade. If you missed more than 2 lessons unexcused then your final grade would drop one full letter. I found this very stressful as if I was sick I still had to go to class or risk losing a grade.

Overall I had an amazing experience going to Fordham university and would definitely do it all over again if I could. I made amazing friends that taught me about American culture and let me into their lives. The experience of living in New York City was amazing, and being able to explore the 5 boroughs at any time was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would definitely recommend exchange to anyone, as it helps you develop as a person and gain full independence. Being so far away from home makes you appreciate what you have and learn how to truly look after yourself.