Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), 3rd year
Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), 3rd year

Academic Experience

I studied a full time load (2.5 credits or 5 courses) at UofT, 4 of which gained me credit at UQ. Even through I am studying Mech/Aero Engg at UQ, the structure of the engineering degree at UofT only allowed me to study 1 Aero course, leaving me with 3 Mech courses to gain credit. The course structures were relatively similar to that of UQ Engineering Courses. Problem Sets due bi-weekly, practicals (requiring a written report) and quizzes throughout the semester were part of the continual assessment, with a 40-70% final exam.

The teaching style is very different at UofT, as they pretty much only use blackboards for lectures, meaning there are no lecture notes or lecture recordings available. This didn’t impact me significantly, as I prefer to write my own notes anyway, however I can appreciate the radical change from having lecture slides to look back on.

Personal Experience

The entire exchange experience was fantastic! I had the opportunity to travel most weekends – camping in the warmer weather, and bus trips into the USA as the weather got colder. Canada – and the Sothern Ontario area – is utterly beautiful in the Fall. I’ve never had the chance to see fall colours and scenery quite like Algonquin park or the Bruce Peninsular in Fall.

I really enjoyed Canada (and especially Toronto) as I’ve always wanted to learn another language. While Canada is officially a bilingual nation (English and French), I think of Toronto as living in an English speaking city with French subtitles. Most signs would have the French translation below it, which makes you unconsciously pick up words or phrasing as you go through your day. As learning a language in class has never been my forte, I really enjoyed the culture.

Accommodation

I lived at Chestnut Residence, run by UofT. It was a renovated hotel, used only for student accommodation. I had my own room, my own bathroom and shower, however most students (who are almost all in first year) are in a shared room. The food provided in the cafeteria was pretty top quality, with a rotation of meals throughout the semester, and many different options to go whatever you’re feeling. I made some fantastic friends at Chestnut, and we went on many a fun adventures together. I did find many of the students there were incredibly study focused, so I didn’t make many local friends – most of my friends were on exchange themselves. While I did enjoy my time at Chestnut, I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. People wanting to go out and party and explore lots may find it easier at a different residence, as I found the Chestnut lifestyle much more reserved and study focused.

Budget

As I mentioned, Chestnut as accommodation was an expensive option, however it did fully cover all food and other such small expenses. Personally, I budgeted approximately $200 AUD ~= $200 CAD (at the time of my exchange) for transport, meals out and miscellaneous other costs which always come up (new pair of snow boots, snow coat, sheets…). However this also allowed me to travel almost every weekend. You could easily budget less, however if I were to go again, I would keep the same budget, as travelling most weekends was a definite highlight.

Professional Development & Employability

As for professional development, my organisational skills definitely rose throughout the entire process. I believe one of the most challenging things which occurred throughout this whole experience was the preparation and planning. U of T is a very good uni to study at, however the time difference and organisational structure of their Abroad program makes contacting them and gaining confirmation for subjects almost impossible to get within ‘reasonable’ time. I cannot comment for other programs, but I know that engineering (and especially aerospace engineering) throws up many different flags, which need to be passed before you can be sure you’ll gain credit for any subjects. It is unfortunate that this whole process of confirmation is occurring throughout exam block, so I had to prioritise both time and effort to exams or organising exchange stuff.

Highlights

Having the flexibility and freedom to travel to whenever you want to wherever you want to (on weekends). While I didn’t travel throughout the week, I absolutely loved being able to travel all around Ontario and North East USA throughout the semester. I loved the going in the fall semester, as it provided an amazing transition from summer (close to temperatures in Brisbane) to Fall (with beautiful scenery) and finally to Winter (where you run south to the US because it’s too cold to always go out in Canada).

Top Tips

Be prepared to have it take a long, stressful, time to confirm. While it is an amazing opportunity, the planning stage took a long time, and since the confirmation for both uni and residence (Chestnut) made booking flights very stressful and more expensive than they could’ve been.
But once you’re there, it is more than worth it. I would definitely recommend to plan weekends ahead, as booking a camping trip on 2 days’ notice is OK, but if you want to go further afield, it requires a bit more planning.

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