My name is Jane Flanagan, and I recently finished my Winter (August to December) term exchange at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Campus. After completely one year of my Arts Degree (major Psychology, Minor Criminology) at UQ, I set out to take full advantage of the resources and courses that UBC had to offer. Only being a second year I enrolled in two second year course (for criminology and conservation) and three third year courses for Psychology. I should preface the third year courses by saying, UBC has some amazing Psychology subjects, and I was fortunate to indulge on, Personality Psychology, Sexuality Psychology and Forensic Psychology , and although they were tough, they were so worth the effort - due to my professors having years of life experiences and constantly featuring in textbooks, thesis papers and Psych Journals. So, UBC – a place of mind – a place to live, explore, study, eat, party, think, play and enjoy. UBC is an absolute haven, its beauty, museums, diversity and energy are second to none. Owning an entire peninsula of Vancouver, laying only 10km from vibrant downtown Van, UBC is home to over 46,000 students and staff. I lived in q'ələχən (‘Cala-Hun’) House on the Totem Park Residence with other exchange students, international guests and full timers. My accommodation was set-up by my host university and allocated rooms were designated when you checked in. Totem Park was an absolute blast. I didn’t know my roommate until I arrived on Campus, but she was a completely brilliant Belgian lass with the same interests and hobbies as me – Stella and Chocolate ! Meeting people was so easy, and the number of organised activities kept everyone super busy and animated. Every Saturday there was an ultimate Frisbee tournament for each of the houses within Totem Park (which is hilarious if you know Vancouver weather well), the Canadians are passionate about their Frisbee!

In terms of cost – Canada is quite an expensive country to living in. If you plan on traveling before or after your exchange I would recommend having between $11-$13 thousand dollars AUD. Don’t forget that tipping at restaurants, bars, in taxi’s and some other service providers is expected, gratuities are a customary 15%-20% (for exceptional service), also HST tax (like Austrailia’s GST) is 12% of any purchased good in Vancouver, it is usually not included in the stated price.

Some tips that I would extend to future exchangees would be get involved with UBC life, join committee and clubs, play sports that you didn’t know existed, you’ll be guaranteed to meet some amazing people and learn some new skills. Secondly, UBC at times is a big bubble – So pop the bubble and get out and explore the city of Vancouver; Stanley Park, the West End, the night life, the beaches and bays; Wreck (nudist) beach & English Bay, Grouse Mountain & North Vancouver (the list seriously goes on). Learn the art of Public transport – yes it is an art, Vancouver has a reasonably good Transit system and getting around is easy with the UPass (which you get on your arrival at UBC). Thirdly, Roadtrip the Rocky Mountains – I did this twice – once in the summer and once in the winter. British Columbia is ‘SuperNatural’, do not miss the opportunity to grab some of your mates, hire a car and hit up the Rockies, you will be speechless! Fourthly, try and get to the East (Montreal, Ontario or Toronto, Quebec), see the fabulous old cities and learn the history of French Canada and the Quebecois.
 

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