As cliché and dramatic as it sounds, going on exchange has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I will never forget the sights I saw and the people I met.

Program

I was a 5th year dual degree Bachelor of Engineering/Business Management student at the time I went on exchange, however I had completed my engineering portion of my degree so I only took business courses at UBC.

Academic experiences

When it came to academics, prepare for a different experience at the Sauder School of Business. With class sizes of around 20 to 30 people lectures become informal discussion sessions, where lecturers/professors and students become very familiar with each other (expect the lecturer to know your name!). In terms of workload, a lot of hours were required for group meetings (be prepared for a lot of group assignments!), but in terms of difficulty I found it was equal to or less than that experienced at UQ.

Personal experiences/What you got out of it

By far the most memorable and enjoyable part of my exchange were the people I met. There are hundreds of exchange students that go to UBC and you soon find yourself forging strong friendships with some fantastic people as you travel and explore Canada (and maybe the U.S.) together. I also found it easy to merge into Canadian culture thanks to the friendly Canadian people and their awesome food. UBC and Vancouver quickly became my home away from home within weeks of arriving.

Expenses

When it comes to expenses, I would recommend anywhere between $12,000 to $16,000 for a semester of exchange. It really boils down to what you're comfortable experiencing, you're obviously going to be travelling so do you prefer hostels, motels or hotels? Are you comfortable cooking cheap and simple meals, or eating out frequently? Thankfully studying at UBC helps save on some costs with the UBC Bird Coop Gym costing $25 for a semester's use, and the all important "U-pass" which for $40 guarantees you unlimited and free use of all public transport in the Vancouver area.

Accommodation

Living on campus in UBC accommodation I think is the only option if you want to make the most of your exchange. I lived in the Walter Gage Tower Apartments, and I would recommend either staying here or at the Fairview Townhouse Residences for two reasons: their locations, and that most of the exchange students live there too. Living on campus gets you as close to the action as possible (in terms of meeting local students, exchange students, and being involved in UBC events).

5 Top tips:

  • Experience the snow! Going to Whistler is a must in Vancouver not just for the skiing and boarding (which you have to try), but it's also to experience the magic of Whistler Village. You should maximise your time there making full use of UBC's AMS Student Lodge (either make frequent day/weekend trips, or plan to stay for a month or more at the end of semester!). But don't forget about the mountains closer to Vancouver such as Grouse, Seymour and Cypress! These are great for day trips.
  • Hire a car and hit the Rockies. The key here is hiring a car – the drive up to the Rockies is an experience in itself and the car provides you with the invaluable flexibility to visit Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Athabasca Glacier and many more breathtaking locations. Do not take this trip lightly though! Plan it out and make sure you are exposed to as much of Canada's natural beauty as possible!
  • Use that U-pass and explore as much of Vancouver as possible. There are so many suburbs, streets and locations which hold little treasures, some great food, and fantastic sights to see. Some examples are: Commercial Drive, Broadway, 4th Avenue, Kitsilano, Gastown, Downtown, Metrotown, North Vancouver, Granville Island, Vancouver Island (and that's just the start of it). These make great day or weekend trips.
  • Get involved at UBC. Check out all the clubs UBC has to offer, especially the UBC Blue Crew, to watch university sports (basketball, football, ice hockey), and keep an eye out for events such as "The Chase", "Day of the Longboat" and "Storm the Wall".
  • Get to a live Canadian sports game. Canadians are insane about their Ice Hockey, and going to a home game for the Canucks is a must! The atmosphere is something else entirely compared to Australian sports games. Not to mention the level of cheering, jeering and all-round partying that goes on at a BC Lions CFL (Canadian Football League) game. And if you're sceptical about these sports, go anyway! You may be surprised that you actually love it.

 

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