Canadian Culture at Queen’s University

Cameron, W., Bachelor of Business
Queen’s University, Canada (Semester 1, 2018)

I went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. For all the geographically impaired readers (such as myself), Kingston is two hours east of Toronto and roughly in the middle of Canada, just above the American border. The town itself was very much a University based society. There were something like 20,000 students living in just a 5km radius with another 70,000-people living in the surrounding area. The campus was gorgeous – nice sandstone buildings, many of which were newly or currently undergoing renovations. The Smith School of Business was most definitely the pride and joy of the University. Extensions to the main buildings created a blend of new and old styles and a refreshing environment to study in.

Accommodation was as you’d expect, first years all lived in student dormitories and the rest lived within walking proximity in less than tidy or looked after rental houses. This was great for socialising as you didn’t worry about anything getting broken or dirty. Sport in Canadian Universities are much the same as American, it’s a big deal with lots of money put into it. As you would expect, the fields and facilities were amazing, and we could all use the three-story gym on campus which was great for encouraging healthy lifestyles resulting in a surprisingly fit population. The parties and community were nothing like I’ve ever experienced before, it really makes me feel as though I’ve missed out on so much bonding and social experiences with Australian University where we don’t all live on or next to campus.

Hanging out at Ontario Hall

Everybody says Canada is basically Australia’s cold cousin and I couldn’t agree more. So many people were so relaxed and just happy to help you if you ever needed it. The lack of hostility was ever so apparent (better than down under) and geographically similar. Everyone typically lives on the border just as we live on the coast with a whole lot of uninhabitable land filling in the rest.

Australia’s Cold Cousin

Overall, I’d say the partying and travelling with friends I met from university was the main highlight. I’ve never really been able to socialise 4 or 5 days a week and live in this environment with friends literally living a block away. Having that exploration mentality and pass/fail grading allowed me to go and see a lot more and really experience everything both Canada and Queen’s had to offer. I can easily say I would not have enjoyed my time as much if my grades would have counted. Anxiety would overrun any positive experience and I wouldn’t have had time to go out and explore and make new friends.

I didn’t expect university could be this fun, Australian universities have a very boring culture. We go to class, maybe meet some friends and have drinks after – although you aren’t all committed and involved nearly as much. I never expected to go to so many functions or sporting matches, I didn’t think the communal University culture could ever be so inclusive of anybody and everybody.

University Facilities

The tips I would have for anyone travelling to Queen’s is simple. DO NOT GO IN WINTER. Fall semester is an absolute blast – everybody from Europe comes in Fall and all the Canadian students go away in Winter, so there’s way more people and community events. Housing was an absolute nightmare – especially to get a 4-month lease. Hop on that quickly. Most of all, do the NEWTS week orientation. Fantastic way to meet everyone on exchange and these people will no doubt become your buddies to hang out with for the rest of the semester.

Friends for Life at San Jose State University

Charlie: San Jose State University, California, USA – Semester 1, 2016

Hi! I’m Charlie Shaw-Feather and I am studying a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Computer and Software Systems. I studied at San Jose State University (SJSU) for the spring semester, 2016.

As I am writing this I am on my way back to San Jose for a holiday to catch up with the friends that I made and the relationships I hope to last a lifetime.

Whilst on exchange I stayed at SJSU’s International house. This was a college owned house situated just off campus for international students, welcoming students from all countries. This formed an integral foundation for the time that I spent in San Jose. They hosted a plethora of different activities and events to engage students allowing them to get out of their comfort zone. When I stayed there was a little over 60 residents, about 12 of which were from the US.

I set out on exchange to experience as much of American college culture as I could and what better way than to join a fraternity. The colleges orientation week coincides with ‘rush week’ which is the time that fraternities and sororities seek new members. ‘Friends for life’; is one of the mottos that is prevalent throughout the Greek (fraternity/sorority) community and it is most certainly true.

The left picture is Tower Hall, an event building on SJSU’s campus. On the right, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.

The left picture is Tower Hall, an event building on SJSU’s campus. On the right, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.

 

The whole community is very accepting and it is an extremely rewarding experience. One of the great parts about being in a fraternity is the philanthropic events. For example, Kappa Sigma, the fraternity that I am a member of hosts a series of events each semester to support military veterans.

When planning my finances for my travels I had to not only account for my student exchange but I also had to plan for my short term program before hand as well; I was overseas for 8 months in total. QUT has plenty of different support systems for students including OS-HELP loans and bursaries. Without QUT’s support I would not have been able to experience as much of American culture as I did.

When paying for living expenses one of the reasons that I chose to stay at I-House was that they offered a meal plan. This meal plan was for 7 days a week with extra dining credits to spend on campus restaurants outside of the dining hall. It should be noted that the food was nothing to call home about, other than to complain…

To find out more about QUT Student Exchange Programs, click here!