Bachelor of Journalism / Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Journalism / Bachelor of Arts

Exchange is amazing and eye-opening. I know it sounds like the same advice everyone gives, but it’s an undeniably true statement, so if you’re thinking of going: do it! I studied at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver during our semester two 2013 and absolutely loved the city, people and university. Highlights of my exchange included meeting hundreds of exchange students from all over the world, living with Canadians (and of course the hilarious misunderstandings we had due to cultural and slang differences) and seeing the autumn leaves change colour and fall.

Student with friends and mountains in background

While there I studied five arts subjects - three creative writing and two ancient history - and found the academic system very similar to UQ. The main difference was that my courses had three 1 hour lectures per subject each week and no set tutorials. Overall, I enjoyed studying at UBC as all the courses were something different to the subjects UQ offers. The Canadian students in my classes were very friendly and keen to copy my Aussie accent, and the Professors were quite accommodating for the exchange students in the class.

Student holding hands out in snow

Exchange is all about the experiences, the people you meet and the things you see. I was lucky enough to travel all around the area – Vancouver Island, Seattle, Grouse Mountain, the Rockies and Whistler – and fell in love with Vancouver as a second home. Vancouver also has great nightlife with many bands playing (and tickets were much cheaper than in Brisbane) so take advantage of it! Living on campus was a huge benefit and helped with meeting both international and Canadian students. Making a lot of international friends early on is a huge benefit as these are the people who’ll want to do activities, explore or travel around the area, so I would highly recommend living on campus not only for the convenience but the friendships. I lived in Fairview with two Canadians and one Swedish student and loved my time there, and there were so many exchange students living around me that I continuously met friends of friends of friends from all over the world. Another great way to meet people easily is join UBC ESC (the UBC Exchange Student Club), who organised events and weekend trips.

Student carving pumpkins with friends

So don’t hesitate. Vancouver is breathtakingly naturally beautiful, the university is astounding in fall colours and surrounded by the ocean on three sides, and the people are so nice! The only thing I regret is leaving all my new friends behind.

Top tips

  • Join the student exchange club UBC ESC for awesome weekend trips and wonderful friends!
  • Go on a Westrek Tour of the Rockies – stunning scenery, great people and a campfire with music and Canadian/ghost stories.
  • Hike Grouse Mountain – it’s gruelling but definitely worth the view.
  • Ski Whistler Blackcomb and get a student season pass. It’s amazing to ski against such a breathtaking backdrop, and return bus trips are cheap for a weekend or a day.
  • Get out and explore as much as you can. Vancouver and UBC are surrounded by natural beauty – oceans, beaches, parks, mountains – there’s so much to do on the weekends and most of it is free!

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