It is hard to know where to begin when writing about something that has had such a drastic impact on your life. To put it simply exchange is by far one of the best experiences you will ever have and if I could make it compulsory, I would. The exchange process is a unique experience that really can only be understood once completed. I remember sitting where you are now contemplating exchange and all the places I could go and if I knew then what I know now I would not have left it till the last minute to submit my application. Just do it, you won’t regret it!

My program is a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science (2nd Year) and I went on exchange in the second half of my second year. Just a quick word to any HMS students reading this, if you are doing the exact same degree as me you need to look into this as quickly as possible due to the rigidness of our course. Any other HMS programs are usually more accommodating

I chose Vancouver for a number of reasons, such as not being 21 and the reputation of UBC but by far the greatest reason was, snowboarding. It was always a dream of mine to learn to snowboard and if there is anywhere that you could go to do this, UBC in Vancouver would definitely be up there at the top. The local mountains are just 45 minutes away by car however public transport will probably push that out to about 2 hours. One of the mistakes I made coming here was thinking that I could just head over there every afternoon. However, not to worry as you most likely will not be spending most of you mountain time there. As a UBC student you get the best deal of all, a season pass to one of the greatest skiing resorts for a QUARTER of the price you would usually pay!! Living in the snow and learning to snowboard have been the best experiences of my life, including having my first white Christmas and a snowy New Year.

Vancouver is such an amazing city, colourful, friendly and albeit yes a bit rainy. However, I was very fortunate to go in a year when we had very little rain and to be honest after a few days you realise it’s just water. There is a lot to see and do in Vancouver and you will definitely not get bored however UBC is so big that you may not find yourself not leaving it for weeks on end so make sure you get out and explore. UBC itself is staggeringly large, the size of a small city and the populace to prove it. I lived in a place called Fairview crescent, an on campus residence and would highly recommend it to anyone. It is organised through the university and is most likely the cheapest option. It is also awesome to live so close to so many others on exchange. I loved cooking and living on my own it was a great place to call home during my exchange

Vancouver is a fairly expensive city, however coming from Australia you will find it slightly cheaper (especially alcohol). For my trip I have probably spent about $15 thousand dollars however this also included buying every single piece of snowboarding equipment while here and spending an extra month in whistler where I spent about $1000 on hostel expenses alone. If I had to save again I would definitely like to bring more over with me, I was very good with saving so I did not run out of money, in fact I am taking some back with me but it would have been nice to go out to dinner more or go on those one or two extra weekend trips. It would be my advice that you arrive to Canada after your flights, insurance and accommodation are paid with at least $6000 left in your account however you can definitely do exchange on much much less. Keep in mind that that is just for the 4 and a half months you are here. If you’re travelling before or after I would suggest you bring more. It makes exchange so much better to be able to say yes and to go and do everything you want.

UBC itself is a great university. The courses here can be very similar and yet so different to those back at UBC, I really loved some of the differences while others weren’t as great. It was still really cool to see how others around the world spent their schooling careers. The student society here is on such a different level to that of UQ. They organise such crazy and amazing events like a welcome back BBQ that was the size of a small concert with its own stage and live acts. I participated in the day of the long boat where teams of 10 race for a weekend in huge longboats. This is such a crazy event and if you go to UBC please please do it and get into the spirit because you will not regret it. Another event I did was called The Chase (This is the picture of me and my best mate Christian in the green shirts) and it is basically a huge treasure hunt that you and a partner run around Vancouver trying to complete. I did this with my closest mate that I made on exchange and it was one of the most fun, tiring, stressful and best days on exchange!

The last to really emphasise on exchange is the people. Going and living in one country is one thing but going on exchange feels like you are going on exchange in every city around the world. Everyone who arrives is on their own so it’s like being back in first grade in school and no one has any friends so everyone just makes friends with everyone else. There are no groups to try and break into although language barriers can play a bit of a part in that. I made a friend from Germany on exchange and I can quite happily say that he is one of my closest mates in the world and it was really quite sad to say goodbye. Coming on exchange means that suddenly you have friends from all over the world, Canada, America, Europe, Asia, Africa and yes even more friends back in Australia and Brisbane. It is a great place to meet some amazing people and I really can’t wait to do more travelling so I can meet up with them again.

Reading back through this now I realise how hard it is to really convey exchange in these short paragraphs, but hopefully this has sparked enough interest to make you really look into it further. Everyone says that going on exchange will change you and while that might be true I don't really believe that is the best way to describe it. I believe exchange is a catalyst that helps you to better understand the world and opens you mind to so many new ideas and possibilities that it can be a wonder it doesn't explode. If you’re looking for an adventure this is one you really don't want to miss! So just do it, you won’t regret it!

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