The time I spent at the University of Western Ontario (since renamed to Western University) was easily one of the most fun and eventful experiences I have had to date. When I stepped off the plane in Toronto, I instantly knew my desire to experience a freezing cold winter would become a reality – three layers of clothing and I was still shivering!

I was lucky enough to have met a Canadian who was doing his Masters at UQ when on Australian University Games the previous year, and he graciously drove me to London that evening as he was back in Mississauga for UQ’s summer break. He even gave me an old coat and a beanie which came in handy seeing as my bags had been lost at LAX! I did Toronto-London (and London-Toronto) several times throughout the semester, which cost roughly $25 on the Greyhound and took around 2 hours. But this first trip took a bit longer as this part of Canada had copped a bunch of snow over the previous few days, a frequent occurring which I came to realise was due to London’s proximity to Lake Huron.

Whilst in London I stayed with all the other exchange students in Lambton Hall, which consisted of 8 floors of 2 bedroom self-contained apartments. I was a bit annoyed that there was no linen, kitchen utensils, crockery or appliances in the apartment, which didn’t make sense to me seeing as the whole building was full of exchange students who are there for no more than a semester –definitely budget a couple hundred dollars for this if you plan on staying in this hall or a similar one. There was a big mall a couple of kilometres away which you could catch a bus to from the nearby university hospital every 15 minutes. This same bus stop also had services running to downtown at a similar frequency. You should also get a bus-pass, which, unlike a go-card is good for the semester and you don’t have to pay every time you ride which is a great idea.

I was a 5th year LLB/BCom student, but I was using 4 law electives so all my classes were in the law building, which was a 10-15 minute walk from Lambton Hall. I still remember one walk to class where the wind-chill made my eyes water and then froze the tears to my face! And I was told this was a ‘mild’ winter… The contact hours were similar to UQ’s, but there were 2 lectures per class each week and no tutorials. The classes were heavy on discussion between professor and student which I enjoyed. The workload was heavier, but other than exercising (UWO has a fantastic gym) and partying (London is a great college town – very cheap and lots to do) I had a lot of time to manage everything so I never found myself overwhelmed.

All in all, UWO is great because you get that college vibe and the academic side of things are world class. I spent roughly $20k on my 6 month trip, but I did do a lot of travelling before and after my time at Western (as well as heading to Las Vegas (read: $$) for spring break and Niagara Falls for Easter) and never said no to anything. If you do decide to travel around the US, have a look at Amtrak, much better than catching the Greyhound is you are looking to stretch your budget. Make sure you eat and drink plenty of Tim Horton’s, get to a Leafs game (or at least a London Knights game) and you are bound to have an awesome time!

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