Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science

 UBC Marielle

As I stood at the departure halls of the Brisbane International Airport, I had no idea how exchange would transform my life. All I knew was this: I finally had a chance to travel, meet people from all over the globe, enrich my academic pursuits, embrace a different natural beauty and furthermore, embrace a different "me". I had a chance to step out of my comfort zone. And now coming back from my exchange at the University of British Columbia at Semester 2 2014, I can personally say that it was an incredible and eye-opening experience and I would encourage anyone to seize such an amazing opportunity.
I am a 2nd year student studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Mathematics at UQ. During my exchange, I wanted to connect with lecturers and familiarise myself with the Canadian mathematical research field; hence, my 5 course workload consisted entirely of mathematics. Although this increased amount of study with 2 mid-semester exams per course and no swotvac , which sounded daunting at first; it was doable. In terms of assessment (weekly assignments, online quizzes, labs, etc.), there were many similarities between UBC and UQ. However, most courses had no lecture recordings, tutorials and for math, no posted online notes or coursebooks. This only forced me to seek help early and collaborate with fellow classmates.
Disclaimer: exchange students usually take more elective courses for a less hectic and more liberating course load.

Vancouver is a very vibrant city and a hub for film, art, music and international cultures. There was constantly something happening every week; whether it be trekking through nature trails, go-karting, film festivals, orchestra performances, night markets or North American traditional festivities like pumpkin pie making during Thanksgiving. With evergreen trees and rugged mountains in the distance, UBC was a large and beautiful campus with a diverse range of clubs. In my semester alone, I auditioned for acting roles, was involved in a musical, learnt boxing and played Quidditch (with brooms, snitches and magic!); all of which was for the first time. I even went to the States to play a Quidditch tournament with the all-around awesome UBC Quidditch Club (Go Thunderbirds! Boom Caw!). If you like to have a taste of everything: sports, outdoors, culture, nightlife and music, Vancouver is the place to be!
I lived at Fairview Crescent, which is mostly filled with exchange and international students. It is a village of townhouses; each accommodating 4 to 6 people and it is a 5 to 10 minute walk away from the campus. It is conveniently located near the university village, the grocery store, food outlets and the bus stop. A café, called the Beanery, lies at the heart of Fairview and is a common rendezvous point for weekly outings, study dates or even for a social meet-ups. The Resident Advisors are extremely amiable and organise social events such as Halloween pumpkin carvings, movie nights and Thanksgiving feasts. I have made life-long friends at Fairview, whose friendships I will cherish forever.

marielle vancouver
Going on exchange and experiencing a new university system, I felt like a first year again. I had the pleasure and honour of being lectured by some of Canada's finest mathematicians. Furthermore, by attending their office hours and getting to know them, I have now made international academic connections that will benefit my career and postgraduate research in the future. I have also received very helpful career advice from some tutors at the Math Learning Centre on how to study and teach effectively. From exchange, I have widened my horizons, accomplished many "firsts", developed my interpersonal skills, a healthy sense of adventure, a global perspective and an invigorated perspective on life.
My time at UBC is filled with many unforgettable memories; one of which would be the first day it snowed. It is not common to snow in November. In fact, Vancouver is not alternatively called "Rain"-couver for nothing. However, on the last day of lectures, we were blessed with the faint pitter-patter of first snowfall on the rooftops. The next morning, everything, cars, trees, cobbled streets, was covered in a sheet of fluffy, fresh white snow like a winter wonderland. It was absolutely breath-taking, next to the changing and falling of red-brown leaves during autumn.

vancouver Marielle

1) If you hear an outing being organised on the Exchange or Resident-related facebook group (and you will almost constantly), seize the opportunity, say "yes!" and go for it! Vancouver is the place to be immersed in and you should leave with no regrets. You are bound to meet new friends, experience something new and embark on adventures so carpe diem! ("seize the day" in Latin)
2) Sort out all passport and documentations before leaving the country. If you know that you will be travelling to the States, research all you can about it. For instance, if your nationality belong to this list of countries (Australia included!), you can apply for a Visa Waiver Program or ESTA. If not, you will have to get a B1/B2 Tourist Visa. But note that the documentation required depends on how long you're staying in Canada and the States.
3) If you are going on exchange in Semester 2, try and make the most of your weekends outdoors when it is still sunny and warm. In the later months like October, it will be raining a lot so keep an umbrella on hand.
4) Try out different sports and clubs at UBC! This gives you an opportunity to do things you have never done before, revisit past interests or even tick off a few deeds on the bucket list.
5) Travel and explore Vancouver and the neighbouring cities like Seattle and Portland. I highly recommend climbing Grouse Mountain. Although it is a gruelling journey (~2800 steps!), the mountaintop view of the city, as well as seeing the lumberjack shows and 2 lovely grizzly bears, is extremely rewarding.
6) Experience the North American lifestyle, which has many Halloween and Thanksgiving traditions. There are also farm festivals and apple festivals near UBC.


7) Be a shameless tourist and take lots of pictures! Before my exchange, I thought I would have so much difficulty trying to attain a photo for this testimonial as I was never really a camera person. At this moment, I have over 700 different photographs of my exchange and more memories to keep!


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