Reece - Queen's University

B Engineering/Commerce
Semester 2, 2018
Participating in a student exchange program may be the most valuable component of my degree.

Academic experience

At Queen's University I studied 3 Civil Engineering courses and Beginner Spanish course. It really made me realise how spoilt we are with technology at UQ as we used blackboards with no lecture recordings and in some instances lecture materials weren't even uploaded. Thankfully I made some friends who took really good notes. I also would recommend not taking a language course on exchange unless it is the language of the country you are in as it is a huge commitment.

Personal experience

I made amazing friends from all over the world that I will hopefully run into again in my future travels. Queen's university provides you with an amazing opportunity to exchange cultures and values with not only Canadians, but people from every continent through it's shear amount of exchange students.

Kingston is in an ideal location for weekend trips, as I was able to visit Montreal, Toronto (several times), Boston, New York, and Montremblant. I wish I had been to maybe a couple more places, but it's also nice to soak up the vibes in Kingston!

Accommodation

I lived in off-campus housing and would recommend this for every exchange student going to Queens. The on campus residence for exchange students is too far away from campus (ironic) and limits your friendship groups as a result. At Also, at Queens only the first years live on-campus, before graduating to off campus housing.

As soon as you receive your acceptance letter for Queen's you should immediately be looking for housing. It is really hard to find a 4 month lease as most landlords prefer tenants with 8 or 12 month leases. Consider Co-Op housing, although they typically prefer full year students. If you really get stuck, I would recommend taking an 8 month lease and breaking it and losing your deposit. You will end up paying for 5 months rent instead of 4, but it is well worth the money to be in an ideal location close to the university. Living closer to campus enhances your experience entirely, and allows you to be way more immersed in the culture at Queen's

Costs

Costs of living are slightly cheaper, plus your Queen's student card offers free buses (within Kingston) and gym access. 
Try budget at least $10,000 for everything.

Challenge

The biggest challenge was probably all the admin involved to get me overseas in the first place. I left exchange until really late, however, so it shouldn't be as hard as I found it. It is all more than worth it, so don't get to down with all the paperwork!

Professional Development

I think exchange forces you out of your comfort zone (with lots of safety nets). I'd like to think that I'm now a little more comfortable with throwing myself in the deep end with situations in life. I personally believe global experiences are so important for personal and professional development as they improve your ability to relate and empathise with others from different backgrounds, while also showing that you are capable of holding your own in new environments. 
I am now much more open to moving cities for work, as I see the potential growth that comes with it.

Highlight

It's not exactly a specific highlight, but I just being apart of the Queen's culture was amazing. While I only spent 4 months there, I really felt like I was a Queen's student and definitely got amongst the school spirit. It's not like anything I've ever seen in Brisbane.

Top tips

Look into housing ASAP, living close to Campus makes a huge difference.
Buy your winter clothing in Canada, it's much cheaper and saves you having to carry stuff over. Whenever possible, take every opportunity to meet new people and go on adventures with them. 

If you are interested in checking out any places on the west coast (my only regret from exchange is that I didn't see Lake Louise before it started snowing), start planning early, otherwise it is way to hard to spontaneously fly over! 

Canadians LOVE an Australian accent, so if you've got it flaunt it! Seriously!