Bachelor of Environmental Management
Bachelor of Environmental Management

After completing 3 semesters at UQ, I completed the fourth semester of my bachelor of Environmental Management at the University of Alberta (UofA) in Canada. This was a great way to finish my second year of university and an amazing way to experience another country. To live, study and travel a country is an incredible experience and an amazing opportunity available to us at UQ.

After deciding not to apply for on-campus accommodation, upon arrival to Edmonton, 4 days before the semester began (as I was trying to maximise my travel time) I had to find a room in a share house. The website was very helpful and I found a room on the first day and moved straight in. In hindsight and after speaking to other exchange students, living on campus seemed a better option overall, especially socially. But my share house experience was good. I didn’t only live with students so I met and lived with people from many different walks of life.

As I wasn’t living with many students but wanted to get involved with the university community and to meet other students, I joined two clubs/societies that interested me. I attended Club Fair at the start of semester, similar to Market Day at UQ, where all the clubs and societies have a display and you can see what type of activities they do throughout the semester. As I am studying and quite interested in environmental management I joined the Outdoors Club and the Wildlife Society. Both clubs offered regular events as well as bigger events to get involved with.

The Outdoor Club offered a weekend trip almost every week. As the Rocky Mountains are only about three hours west of Edmonton, there is much fun to be had there in all seasons. I only went for one trip with the Outdoor Club but it was a great trip. We did a three day hike in the Rockies for Thanksgiving, where we camped by a lake and even had a turkey dinner cooked on the campfire. For the rest of the semester I met regularly with many of the people from that trip, to go indoor rock climbing at the university, for house parties and pub nights. I wasn’t able to make it to any of the bigger events offered by the Wildlife Society but I did attend, almost every week, the wildlife walk they did every Friday. A group would walk down the river valley (at the north of the campus) to the river, counting bird numbers. This was a great way to watch the seasons progress. At the start of semester the trees were all green and as time passed the leaves yellow and drop off as winter approaches. By the end of semester the walk involved wandering through about a foot of snow.

Although there is much fun to be had at the university there was also a semester of subjects to complete. Overall I found the UofA system and way of teaching quite similar to that of UQ, although in Canada a full time load is 5 subjects and exams seem to be the favoured form of assessment. For three of my five subjects the only assessment I had was two mid-terms and a final exam per subject. Because of this, there is obviously less written assessment, so I was able to complete the semester with only the use of ipad which saved me carrying my laptop on my travels before and after my time at the UofA. One thing that I wish I had done, and would recommend to others is try to get some of your core subjects at UQ to match up with those offered by your host university. I only matched up subjects with my electives but as my degree has a limited number of electives available, I now only have my core subjects left, it will make it a bit difficult to get all these subjects completed in the time I have left.

One thing I hadn’t given much thought during my preparations for studying at UofA were the costs at the start of semester. Textbooks were the first of these costs. As I didn’t want to buy them (especially at full price) and know I would have to leave them there as I didn’t want to carry them while travelling after. So I bought two of my texts second hand on the very handy website (which is actually very hand for buying other cheap things such as bikes) for much cheaper than full price. And I hired older editions of two textbooks from the university library which was a very good option too. Another cost was the public transport fee for students which after paying there is no additional cost for public transport in Edmonton. There is also a fee for university health insurance which covers you while studying at the UofA. After these initial costs most other things were general day-to-day costs, which I found to be quite similar to that of Australia. Groceries prices are quite similar as are meals at restaurants.

The number one thing that I would recommend to anyone going on exchange is to travel before and after your semester studying. I was lucky enough to travel the US for about a month before arriving in Edmonton as well as Eastern Canada and Europe for two months after the semester. The holidays between semesters, especially the Christmas break provides plenty of time to see the country you study in and many other countries as well. I also found the price of an ‘around the world’ ticket not that much more expensive than a return flight to Canada.

Overall I had a fantastic experience. But it is really what you make of it. Travel before, during and after your semester. Join clubs to experience the things you enjoy while meeting new people. And try to spend some time with Canadians to see the local culture.


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