Going on exchange to the University of British Columbia was one of the best decisions I ever made. I would encourage anyone thinking of doing it to stop thinking and just do it! I recently completed my third year of Arts/Social Science, majoring in International Relations and Development. I had heard great things about this program at UBC and always wanted to explore Canada, so UBC was the perfect option for me. I mainly studied compulsory subjects but also enrolled in Canadian Studies and French to learn more about the country and try something a bit different. In terms of academic work, I found the structure of the system very similar to UQ, with the exception being that the lectures are a bit smaller in size and more participation-based. The lecturers I had were all wonderful and always very supportive of exchange students. 

I lived at Fairview Crescent and loved it there! I had great housemates and enjoyed the independence of self-service. I would definitely recommend Fairview to anyone looking at accommodation on campus. I met so many wonderful friends on exchange and we are already making travel arrangements to see each other again! I didn’t expect to form such deep relationships over one semester, but you really do form special friendships on exchange.

In terms of expenses, I found Canada quite similar to Australia. The main difference was that tax and tipping is not usually included in the price, so often things are a bit more expensive than you think. In saying that, Vancouver also had a lot of student discounts to capitalise on. I would recommend taking advantage of the OS-HELP loan so you can make the most of travel opportunities without stressing about whether you will have enough money to get home.

My top 5 tips I can offer to anyone going to UBC are...

  1. Get away for the weekends! Places like Seattle, Portland, Whistler and Vancouver Island are close and so much fun to experience with new friends. I would also recommend the Rocky Mountains; they are a bit further away but worth it!
  2. Focus in class so you can afford to spend more time exploring Canada without failing all your classes. Vancouver itself has beautiful places like Grouse Mountain, Wreck beach, Stanley Park, Kitsilano and the UBC Campus in general.
  3. Go to Whistler (pictured)! It has incredible skiing and even more incredible scenery. I bought the Whistler season ski pass because I knew after my first trip that I would spend a lot of my free time there. Also, as a UBC student, you can get the season pass for a lot cheaper and the Ski/ Board club also has some really fun weekend trips!
  4. Immerse yourself in Canadian culture: Eat poutine, go to University sports games, drink Canada Dry, get crazy about ice-hockey, and celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween!
  5. Make the most of your time because it goes so quickly!

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