Simply put, exchange at UBC Vancouver was the best decision I ever made and the best six months of my life.

I attended UBC in the third year of my Bachelor of Business Management degree. Being in my last year and doing double major (HR and International Business) made it difficult to find courses; therefore I suggest that you plan your exchange early and save up as many electives as possible! Also unless you are a total morning person, avoid 8am classes. I had 8am classes three days a week and it was brutal getting up in winter for them! Academically, I did not find UBC any harder than UQ however the professors did expect a lot more from you. I also liked the style of classes (more of a lectorial) at UBC better than UQ. Sauder School of Business was an awesome faculty and I would definitely recommend the Negotiation course (COMM412).

I chose to live in Fairview Crescent student residence which is a village of townhouses. I loved living there as it was full of international students however plenty of Canadians too! I became really good friends with my Canadian roommate, Kate which also allowed me to meet lots of locals. Fairview also has its own coffee shop called ‘the Beanery’ which was a great place to hang out and study. I loved having my own kitchen and being able to cook. I found that it was really easy to meet people in Fairview. 

Budget-wise, I found Vancouver more expensive than Brisbane for groceries (unless you can get to Costco or Canadian Superstore) but cheaper for going out, alcohol, cabs etc. You also get unlimited public transport (compulsory student fee) which will save you a lot of money. The public transport system in Vancouver is A LOT better than Brisbane. Buses run all night from downtown to UBC.

Overall, Vancouver was an awesome choice for exchange as its location allowed me to travel to the Rocky Mountains, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver Island and Whistler during the semester. The climate is a lot different from Brisbane but for me that all a part of my decision to go there. Be prepared for cooler weather, a lot of grey days, and some rain and if you are lucky, snow! Vancouver is a beautiful city and there is a lot to see and do regardless of the weather.

I did not really experience must home sickness or culture shock as Canadian culture is fairly similar to Australia and you are constantly busy, going on adventures and meeting new people that you do not really have time to sit around and miss home. I made so many good friends on exchange and learnt about different cultures and experience things that I could never do at home. UBC’s Go Global also made a Facebook group for incoming exchange students which made it really easy to meet people, so make sure you join the page.

Final tips:

  • Really get into Canadian culture. A lot of students on exchange stuck to their group of international friends. Go out of your way to make friends with Canadian students as they can show/tell/take you places you would never find by yourself. Go to a Canucks (ice hockey) game, try REAL maple syrup, Tim Horton’s, go skiing/snowboarding at Whistler.
  • Explore Vancouver as much as possible, especially when the weather is nice! Go down to Spanish Banks beach, walk around the amazing boutiques and shops along 4th Avenue or Broadway in Kitslano, go to Lynn Canyon Park and see the suspension bridge (this one is free!), go to Canada Place on the waterfront, check out the shopping on Robson Street and of course clubbing on Granville St.
  • Vancouver is a foodie haven. Some of my favourites are the Eatery (awesome Japanese and cocktails), Local Public Eatery (great burgers) and Earls. For cheap on-campus eats, Fresh Slice in the Village and Bernoulli’s Bagels in the SUB are awesome.
  • Make sure you go and explore Gastown. Personally, it was my favourite place to go out at night time as it has plenty of bars, pubs and clubs. Get away from Granville St and head to places that locals tend to be.

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