Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering
Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering

Academic experiences

As I was in my 4th year of a 5 year mechanical and materials engineering degree, it was difficult to find courses that easily fit the study objectives. However, with assistance from both U of T and UQ, I managed to find the required material sciences and mechanical engineering courses.
The wide array of courses available at U of T definitely made it easier for me to select the required courses. But one of the key differences between U of T and UQ was the system of enrolment.
The courses are controlled by the respective lecturers who can limit the size of class and have the authority to accept or reject your course enrolment request. As such preference is given to U of T enrolled students and exchange students have to wait until the local students are all enrolled into the course before they can be accepted.
Beware of “Engineering Science” courses (mostly upper year) which exchange students are NOT allowed to undertake at U of T. D ue to these restrictions, it is advised to email the lecturers or talk to them directly before enrolling.
Naturally, it is also advisable to have back-up courses. Having used up my electives in earlier years didn’t help my cause and I had to find courses last minute, so please keep them!
The teaching and course profile itself is not very different from UQ. There are lectures, tutorials and practicals for most courses with assignments, mid-terms and final exams the assessments.
The class sizes in upper year courses tend to be much smaller (about 30-40 students) because of the branching of the degree (especially in engineering).
For example, there is a separate engineering economics course for chemical and mechanical engineering. This undoubtedly enhances the learning experience and makes the lectures more interactive.
Being one of the top universities in the world, U of T has several academics who are world-renowned in their respective fields, so you’ll be learning from the very best.
One of the differences was the more theoretical approach of the courses. The practicals were less hands-on than at UQ but the solid theoretical background provided would make it easier to understand the concepts.

hockey

Personal experiences

My personal experience of exchange was a combination of travelling, meeting new people and experiencing a different academic and cultural lifestyle.
Travelling with a friend for 5 weeks in the USA and Canada was absolutely incredible and it was a chance for me to explore cities like LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Montreal to name a few.
Canada was much like Australia with Toronto being a very vibrant and multicultural city. I met people from various backgrounds who have become really close friends.
More importantly, the exchange made me more confident, more independent, gave me an opportunity to expand my professional contacts and taught me important life skills.

Accommodation

It is almost impossible to get an on-campus residence, so I would recommend looking for other options.
I stayed at an off-campus U of T residence called Chestnut Residence. It is short walk to the university and the walk is absolutely amazing along the boulevard-style University Avenue.
The residence houses a lot of engineers and exchange students so it was easy to adjust.
Exchange students are automatically provided with an unlimited meal plan.
Each room also has free internet access, an ensuite and house-keeping every week, so it was pretty comfortable.
It was a bit expensive, however, at about $8000 for the semester but finding a place like a flat-share is difficult for stays under 6 months.

Budget

It is important to note that the quoted price in shops is WITHOUT tax (unless otherwise stated) and is about 13% in Ontario.
Tipping is almost a must with about 10-15% of the final bill being the norm.
Apart from that, it is pretty similar to Australia.
Public transport costs $3.00 for a single ticket ($2.70 if you purchase 3 or more tokens) or you can purchase a student monthly pass for about $120.00.
If you choose to live outside of the university residences, monthly rent can range between $750 and $1000 for a shared flat depending on area.
Do not bother with stocking up with too much winter clothes from home because you will without a doubt need to buy a good wind-resistant coat for the chilly Canadian winter. With a keen eye on sales, you can get one for under $170.
Winter boots are recommended but you can manage without them. Phone plans are quite expensive with plans ranging from $30-50/month.
Also, before purchasing a plan, ask the provider whether their SIM and network frequency works on Australian phones.
In general, $15,000 is a good estimate for one semester’s worth of expenses. Obviously, this can rise significantly if you choose to travel for a month, eat out every day, etc.

canada

Academic development and employability

Going on exchange provided me with an opportunity to put my skills acquired at UQ to the test. With the variety of courses available at U of T, I was able to take courses which are not normally available at UQ and specialised courses that greatly improved my knowledge of that topic.
The smaller class sizes greatly benefited my conceptual understanding of the topics but we were also encouraged to work in groups to simulate real-world conditions.
Through the exchange experience, I was able to improve my employability by demonstrating my ability to adapt to a new environment while managing my resources and maintaining good academic results and social connections.

Highlight

The highlight of the exchange was definitely travelling, meeting new people sharing my experiences and a special group of amazing people I met in Toronto who have become close friends now.
We consisted of local and fellow exchange students and we travelled together in big groups to some beautiful places like Parry Sound, Ontario. The local students made us feel very welcome and the group made this experience truly unforgettable.

Toronto

Top tips

-Do not let the long process of applying for exchange, lack of courses equivalents or other paperwork deter you. Trust me, it’s worth it. When I told a friend of mine that I was thinking of going on exchange, his response was ‘Don’t think, just do!’ So I am going to pass on that brilliant advice.
-This experience will bring the best out of you. It’ll teach you adaptability, being independent, time management and improve your confidence, all of which are vital in today’s society and greatly improve your employability.
-Beware of tax and tips being added to the price. Things can become expensive very quickly.
-Citibank Australia debit card works with Citibank USA and TD International (one of the big banks in Canada) ATMs without ATM international or exchange fees although I’ve been told some remotely located Citibank ATMs in the US do charge fees. Westpac and Scotiabank have some tie-ups, you can research that too.
- Bell curving the test scores does happen but it generally works in your favour, so don’t worry too much about it.
- Contrary to what one might think about Canadian weather, their summers can get up to 30-32°C. So if you’re going in for the Fall Semester, pack summer clothing for at least the first month. Also, if it’s possible, I’d recommend going in the Fall Semester as you’ll see the transition from beautiful summer days to colourful autumn to chilly winter.
- Join clubs and societies. Attend the various events organised by the exchange office at U of T, this is a great chance to meet people from all over the world. Also, make sure you go to the museums (Royal Ontario Museum), the CN tower and sporting events such as Toronto Raptors (basketball) and Toronto Maple Leafs (ice hockey) games. They love their sport there and the atmosphere is sensational!
-Enjoy your exchange! It’ll be challenging but it’ll also be exciting and fun. Whether you enjoy skiing, dog sledding, the breathtaking Rockies, soaking up the European feel of Montreal and Quebec or just a stroll along Lake Ontario, Canada has it all. Make the most of your U of T experience, it’s a brilliant university with great academics and set in a beautiful location.
 

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