I just completed the 2nd semester of my 3rd year at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and as clichéd as it is, exchange was the most amazing experience of my life. Anyone considering undertaking an exchange should definitely make the leap and do it! When I was thinking of applying I had many, varied reasons for wanting to go but having come out the other side I gained so much more than I ever envisioned including amazing new friends scattered across the globe and memories that I’ll treasure forever.

Academically, I’m a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Economics student and while at UBC I was enrolled in their Sauder Business School. I undertook Introduction to Marketing (2nd year), Managerial Economics (2nd year), Real Estate Finance (4th year) with Sauder and Money and Banking (3rd year) and Introduction to Game Theory and Applications (4th year) from the Economics Department of the Arts Faculty. In terms of my degree, learning at UBC was quite different to UQ – classes were generally much smaller with more discussions driven by student participation and a steady stream of small assessment pieces throughout the whole term. In my experience and also talking to other exchange students, we found the difficulty of classes to generally be lower comparable to our home universities, however, I noticed a meaningful jump in difficulty from the lower level courses to the 4th year courses which were far, far harder than the others.

Exchange is about so, so much more than just academics though. Living on campus with locals and a whole host of other exchange students creates so many incredible opportunities and experiences. Many people from my residence tower I count as lifelong friends now. Vancouver is a beautiful city with some amazing destinations nearby – Vancouver Island, Seattle and Portland (there’s nothing like tax free shopping in Oregon!!). But for me it’s all about Whistler, Whistler, Whistler. I learnt to snowboard on opening weekend and amassed about 18 days on the slopes by the time I left. My highest recommendation is to take every opportunity to get up there, whether it is a long weekend, a last minute day trip or a few free days between exams. The Whistler Ride Share Facebook group provides a great and cheap way to get there from UBC.

Personally, exchange cost me far more than I budgeted. Vancouver prices were higher than expected which made week to week expenses costlier than I planned for. A significant amount of travel either side of the term added a lot to the bill too. If I was to do it again, I’d take my budget and add half again! There is always one more thing to do while on exchange and most of the time it doesn’t come cheap.

In my opinion it doesn’t matter where you end up deciding to go on exchange but UBC is a great choice. Canadians are much like the stereotype and the culture is very similar to Australia. Take the right attitude and combine that with the environment set up by the UBC Exchange Office and you’re provided the perfect opportunity to have the best time of your life!

Top 5 Tips:

  • Buy a Season Pass for Whistler Blackcomb and get there at EVERY opportunity.
  • Make use of every weekend early in the term (end of Summer) to go on road trips as the surrounding area gets very rainy during Fall.
  • Get involved in Orientation as it is a perfect way to meet other exchange students.
  • Spend a whole (long) weekend exploring Vancouver Island – it takes a long time to drive around.
  • As most UBC students will tell you, make at least one trip to Wreck Beach. I suggest the first few days when the weather is a bit warmer because it can get cold fast. The water is always cold but a swim is essential!

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