Only recently have I learned numerous life lessons; travelled across beautiful terrain; met the most wonderful friends; climbed mountains; snowboarded for the first time and really partied. How did I do all this? I achieved everything during my 7 months away on exchange at The University of British Columbia.

It is easy for me to say that my seven months in North America; including 2 months of travel beforehand and 7 weeks after exchange were the best times of my life so far. One of the goals for myself was to see as much American sport as possible. I achieved this via: Seeing Seattle Seahawks down the Vikings; Oregon Ducks fall to the Stanford Cardinals; Chicago Bulls fall to the Portland Trailblazers. I was also lucky enough to watch 3 Baseball games which were incredible to watch live; including games at Fenway Park and Wrigley Ville.

My exchange was very well rounded. I chose UBC for many reasons. For some reason I had a fascination with Canada and I really wanted to try snowboarding. I could easily have chosen an American university as I love college sport and their whole college culture. However UBC attracted me due to its close proximity with Vancouver- such a large cultural city which is often voted in the top five most liveable cities. I am still to this day happy with my choice as living near a city is more enjoyable than living in a small isolated college town. I did throughout my exchange experience the American college life so I had the best of both worlds.
Study… I guess being made to study 5 subjects is never easy but it really isn’t that bad. I personally found the workload less for each subject in comparison to UQ. However this being said I did feel quite privileged to be studying at the Sauder business school. This is a world renowned faculty and Canadian students struggle to get a place.

Whilst staying at UBC I decided to stay at Walter Gage residency. Prior to exchange this was the question that I had most drama with. I was tossing up between: Gage, Fairview and Totem Park. Fairview would undoubtedly also have been fun; a lot of Europeans stayed there during my semester. I made many friends there so I was there a fair bit but not as much as I probably should have been. The primary reason why I enjoyed Gage was because most of my mates were also in there. The location of Gage doesn’t harm either. I was literally across the road from the gym and 5 minutes walk away from all of my classes in Sauder.

I would strongly recommend that if you are over 18 and you will be, don’t stay at Totem Park; unless you insist on not cooking and cleaning for yourself whilst abroad then be my guest. In my opinion it doesn’t offer the same experiences that the older residencies do and most of the people on your dorms aren’t old enough to go out.

The Highlights of my trip were the travelling before hand and staying in Whistler for 5 weeks after. During your exchange at UBC I would strongly recommend the following: attend the Pit night club on as many Wednesday nights as possible; go to the backstage lounge on a Thursday night and check out the Fortune on a weekend. Certainly try and get out and about on as many little weekend and day trips that you can whilst the sun is still partly out during August and September. Experience the Grouse Grind and then experience it again to try and beat your time!

I am a huge fan of North America and this truly was a great experience for me. Don’t even think about hesitating about going on exchange. It truly is unfortunately a once in a life time opportunity and I feel sorry for those who never get to experience it.

Everything that I have experienced has been positive- except maybe coming back in debt… However money merely sitting in your bank account doesn’t trigger memories of a lifetime. It doesn’t really matter where you go- just go somewhere and I can guarantee that you will have the best friends and memories for life.

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