In semester 1 of 2011 I took four courses at Uq, four courses and I organised my exchange. As a science student I am used to being confused and awed. This semester was no different. Aligning subjects, organising housing, food plans, car rental, visas, trips, Hecs and insurance from overseas was a complicated and arduous process to say the least. I truly sat in awe on the plane as I flew out of Brisbane on the 11th of July Canada bound, only a couple of weeks post finals and actual acceptance.

In Canada I studied at UBC, in Vancouver ‘Beautiful British Colombia’. One of the great things about studying in Canada is that the semesters are fairly short and do not align with Australian semesters. This meant that after arriving in LA my friends and I had a month and a half to road trip, camp and hostel our way up the west coast of America from San Diego to Seattle and everything in between. Summer in California was something else as was the three day music festival ‘Outside lands’ which we managed to pick up tickets for in San Fran. The whole thing was truly the trip of a lifetime and I ticked a few big names such as the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite, The Oregon redwoods, Highway 1, Big Sur and Zion National Park off the bucket list. Once arriving in Vancouver I found UBC to be similar to UQ in many ways, albeit significantly more breathtaking scenery-wise. No other place in the world can I imagine a student could look out their bedroom window over a pine forest and beach sunset, and out of their classroom over snow-capped mountains rising up from a crystal harbour. Fall here was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Study wise classes were good, eventually after a lot of stress and negotiation I able to enrol in all the courses I required to come back without being behind. The science classes were somewhat challenging but nothing that I was unprepared for. For the most part I was able to more than pass with fairly average effort. I was also able to take a fine arts, technical painting and drawing class, which was fun and required no theoretical work.

Staying in residence I got lucky with a brand new building and my own bathroom, but that wasn’t the best of it. Not only did I have a true Canadian college experience, frat parties, weekend trips, Varsity sports games, campus events and all, but I also left quite confident in the fact that should I even need to travel to any part of Canada, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Washington, Belgium, Singapore, England, Scotland, Thailand or Croatia, I would have a place to stay with friends as close as family. Needless to say, I am expecting a few visitors at my place in the future.
When the semester ended I was sad to leave, but would have been far more devastated if a month of skiing and north Americas largest resort, Whistler, did not await me. Being a UBC student made me eligible for a student season pass, less than a quarter of the price of a regular season pass. Between weekend adventures throughout semester and this magical month in the mountains I definitely got my money’s worth. Now as I sit on the plane on my way to Idaho to visit family, explore, ski and chill out in the countryside for the next month before returning home, I realise how much this experience really has changed me and prepared me. I have learnt by observation and introspection the type of person that I really want to be and can appreciate that working in the fish shop all those extra Friday and Saturday night shifts that no one else wanted really were worth it.


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