After spending five years studying a Bachelor of Laws/Business Management degree at UQ, I chose to complete my last semester in London, Canada. Without a doubt, this was the best decision I have ever made. At the Western Faculty of Law, I studied Healthcare Law and Policy, Wills, Bankruptcy and Insolvency, and Real Estate Law. I really enjoyed the unique “January Term” where law students only study one of their four subjects in a more intense format. For example, in Healthcare Law and Policy, I was required to attend class three hours a day for three weeks before completing a research paper for 100% of my final grade. This allowed me to focus on a particular topic of my choice and took the pressure off for the subsequent “Spring Term” as I only had three subjects remaining. I found the work load to be fairly similar to UQ; however, there are no tutorials. Instead, students attend two, two-hour lectures per week.

Western University is a fantastic place to meet amazing people from all over the world – I now have lifelong friends from Canada, Sweden, Denmark, France, the UK and New Zealand. And, because of London’s relatively central location in Canada, I was able to travel to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa on weekends during semester. I also had the opportunity to go to Cuba with the final year Canadian law students during Reading Week (a one-week holiday between the January and Spring terms). I particularly loved going to Quebec in February with some of the other exchange students because the Winter Carnival really brought the city to life and the bilingual nature of the area allowed me to practice my French.

In terms of accommodation, I chose to live on-campus in London Hall. Although it was the most expensive option by far, if I had my time over again, I’d still make the same decision. I really liked being so close to the law school (10 minute walk) and the gym (5 minute walk), especially given the cold winter weather and endless amounts of snow. I also liked having my own room with a double bed, only one roommate and being able to cook my own food. From my experience, I would definitely recommend against choosing a residence where a meal plan is compulsory.

My advice in relation to money is – bring more than you think you will need. The last thing you want to be doing is constantly worrying about whether you can afford something. To get the most out of your exchange experience, you need to be able to travel, go out and have fun. I have intentionally avoided doing the exact calculations but I would say that I probably spent $4000 on accommodation and another $6000 on travelling, food and entertainment. Unfortunately, it is important to know that transport within Canada is certainly not cheap.

Here are my top five tips for an exchange to Western University in London, Ontario:

  • Say ‘yes’ to every opportunity and get involved in all aspects of uni life – this includes travel, pre-parties, clubs, social events organised by the IESC (i.e. ice hockey games and Sugarbush outing to a maple syrup factory) and by the law school (i.e. Law Ball) – you never know who you might meet
  • Go on the final year law trip during Reading Week – this is an essential chance to get to know your fellow Canadian law students – note that this occurs during the first week of February so be proactive and ask to join the trip before you even leave Australia – I guarantee it will make the rest of your exchange experience more fun
  • Attend the “Dennings” even if, like me, you have an 8:30am class the next day – “Dennings” are outings organised by the Law Society; they occur every second Wednesday night at various clubs around London (Top tip: Don’t arrive before 11pm or no-one will be there)
  • Be smart about choosing classes – Western is an extremely organised university and so I was able to select my subjects months before I arrived; in order to travel, I made sure I had no classes on a Friday or Monday; that way, I was never tempted to skip class
  • Try all of the delicious Canadian food – for example, poutine (hot chips, gravy and cheese curds), beavertails (a flat pastry covered with cinnamon and various sweet toppings like Reese’s pieces, peanut butter or nutella) and perogies (cheese and potato filled dumplings), and then go to the world class Western gym to work it all off! (N.B. the classes are amazing and membership is already included in your student fees)

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