I am a third year Bachelor of Psychological Science student and I went on exchange in semester 2 of 2012. So I was on exchange for the second half of my second year at university. Try your very best to save your electives for exchange because it gives you a lot more freedom. At UBC a course will either be on Tuesdays and Thursdays or on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. When you choose your courses you can sort by day that they are on. So my advice is choose the ones offered Tuesdays and Thursdays so you can have a long weekend and you can do lots of travelling. Also for me FIST100, which is film studies, was a really good choice because it is all on the same day, which was a Wednesday. So I only had uni Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!

If you are going to Vancouver and you are only going on exchange for one semester I recommend going the same time I did, in their September-December semester, because the weather is much nicer. It gets super rainy in January through to May. I stayed on campus in a set of townhouses called Fairview. It is definitely the best place to stay if you like to cook your own meals and have a homely environment. There is also a café in Fairview that everyone would go to and study, it gets really busy during exam block.

I made weekends trips to Seattle, Whistler and Vancouver Island. On a long weekend my friend and I went on a Rocky Mountains tour with a company called Westtrek. It was so much fun, definitely one of my highlights. Halloween is also heaps of fun in Canada, everybody gets really into it and there are heaps of Halloween parties. Even the supermarket has spiders hanging from the ceiling and skeletons standing in the aisles.

After my exchange I travelled for a month around the USA to Seattle, San Francisco and to New York City. I recommend you go travelling after your exchange. Canada is so far away you should make the most of being there while you can because you probably won’t have enough money to go back for a while! I made so many life long friends it was just incredible, I miss them so much! Especially my housemates in Fairview, we became really close and I would count them among my closest friends. On Thanksgiving and Christmas I was invited back to one of my housemates homes for a real Canadian experience with her family.

Fairview is a melting pot of different cultures; it is an exchange student favourite so you will definitely meet a whole bunch of people from all over the world. This is really good because most of the locals don’t have such a desire to travel as the exchange students and they are more focused on their studies. So make lots of exchange friends because they want to travel as much as you do and you can go together. Also, after your exchange you can go stay all over the world for free because you have friends there!

Top Tips:

  • Go to a Fraternity party, they are just like American Pie!
  • Eat a ‘Marbelous’ Blue Chip Cookie from the Student Union Building (SUB). You will seriously die and go to heaven, they are amazing.
  • Take every opportunity. What will you remember at the end of your exchange, studying for an exam on Saturday night or carving up the powder snow in Whistler?
  • Go on a Wetstrek Tour. They are super cheap for what you get out of them and the tour guides are locals so they know the best spots to take you. http://www.westtrek.com/
  • Go Skiing or Snowboarding. Even if you never have (like me) you should give it a try because there really is nothing like it. And Whistler is ranked among the top places to ski in the world so do not pass up that opportunity! Also if you think you will go skiing in Whistler for more than 5 days in total than it is worth getting a Season Lift Pass because you will save so much money, literally hundreds of dollars. If you buy it before the deadline in November you will save even more.
  • Pack less than you think you will need, because you will want to buy things there and you don’t want to pay excess baggage on the way over, save that for the way back.

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