Lucia - University of British Columbia

B Psychological Science
Semester 2, 2018
My exchange period was life-changing and through these experiences I became a more mature and more confident to take on any challenges.

Academic experience

The University of British Columbia offers many opportunities to gain experience within the psychology field through research or volunteering prospects that I appreciated. I studied 5 courses related to my psychology major. It was a huge study load, but I really enjoyed being able to listen to a plethora of courses about fields in psychology that I was really interested in such as personality psychology, cultural psychology, principles in animal behaviour, social psychology and childhood & adolescence. In the beginning it was difficult juggling the huge study load and my UBC life due to the differences between the UQ and UBC academic system. All my courses had many small pieces of assessment and no lecture recordings which was stressful. However, through help from friends and my planning an effective schedule, I was able to balance out my study loads. It is important to make lots of domestic friends from your courses since they can be the ones to help you if you miss a lecture with notes and advice.   

The enrolment processes for courses are like UQ enrolments. However, if you don’t manage to get into the courses or class that you want to listen to I would recommend going to the class within the first week and asking the professor if you could join in the class as some professors can be lenient if you voice your interest. I would also recommend signing up to get reminders for freed up class spots through slacknotes.com/eyeout.

Personal experience

My exchange period was life-changing and through these experiences I became a more mature and more confident to take on any challenges. I was able to experience a true fall through beautiful autumn leaves, seasonal food, ‘Rain’cover and saw a white winter. I was able to meet many new exchange and domestic friends who all supported me throughout my exchange period. Domestic friends teaching me the know hows of UBC and showing me the best places in Vancouver. I loved going hiking in scenic places such as Stawamus Chief and Joffre Lakes, holidaying at skiing resorts, holidaying in Victoria and around Canada with exchange friends. Through these experiences I was able to experience the rich culture and history of Vancouver and the beauty of Canada with people that I will always remember and cherish as my true friends.

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Walter Gage which is a more apartment style accommodation in UBC with close access to the bus exchange, many UBC food courts and the campus Wifi. I enjoyed living at Gage as most of my exchange friends lived in the same accommodation which allowed us to get together at the lobby of Gage which we had space to study and play table tennis or pool for stress relief. There is also a small convenience store within the lobby of the complex for snacks or necessities that may be urgent and music rooms for musicians like me. I recommend attending some of the many events Gage hosts which allow students can get to know one another and hang out with other people that live in the same accommodation. The host university provided lots of help when asked for and I especially appreciated the trolley they let residents borrow during moving in and out days.

Costs

The cost of living in Vancouver is more expensive than Brisbane due to the exchange rates. Using public transport in Vancouver is free as a UBC student through signing up to the transit website as a student which was one advantage that I was grateful for. If going to long distance places, I would recommend renting a Zip car which can cost around $76-80 for a 3 hour drive and renting for a day road trip in which you can split the cost with friends. These Zip cars are available for pick up at UBC. 

The drinks and food were a little more expensive in Vancouver compared to Brisbane. But I would like to encourage trying out all the delicious foods which are seasonal and drinks Vancouver offers as there are worth it for food lovers. Groceries were very expensive and I would recommend getting one of the reward cards supermarkets have to be able to get sale prices and promotions only available to reward card owners. For Asian groceries I would recommend T&T Supermarkets which offer cheaper prices. 

Travel was expensive, especially when finding accommodations at skiing resorts but accommodation for trips were pretty reasonable if you plan on going holidays with friends. Overall, I recommend to budget around $15, 000 which is more than enough depending on what you are planning to do during your exchange period. I recommend to research first before going on exchange to Vancouver as a precaution.

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me was trying to find a balance between my academics and my university life due to the differences between UQ and UBC in terms of academic structure and experience. It was difficult to juggle 5 courses which all had many small pieces of assessments along with my life in the beginning.

Professional Development

think the skills that really contributed to my development was learning more effective communication and becoming more sociable to strangers. Making so many new international and domestic friends really helped me to be more effective in my communication since I needed to make new friends from having none and plan trips with friends that needed effective communication. In addition, many of the friends come from different countries so it was important to communicate in manner that is easy to understand for friends in which English was not their first language.

Highlight

The highlights of my experience were snowboarding at Cypress Mountain and Whistlers. I loved these experiences as Vancouver had a much more difficult and exciting skiing routes then other places that I have been, and the snow was amazing in the mountains. Staying at Whistlers was expensive but a lot of fun and I felt like my friends a lot closer through these new experiences. I recommend staying nearby or at the skiing resort for 2-3 days minimum to get the full snow sports experience.

Top tips

•    Sign up as a UBC student on transit and this signin has to be done once every month to be valid 
•    Use a Fido ($40) plan for students to buy a pre-paid sim for your phone and this is only available during earlier weeks of the semester
•    Use Scotiabank for your debit bank account as it has no costs for opening an account an all bank close on Sundays 
•    Transferwise is the best app to use for money transfers 
•    Sign up for the Go Global Mentoring program as it is a good way to meet a UBC student that can give you advice and fellow exchange friends with many opportunities to meet many friends 
•    Don’t miss the Jump Start Orientation to meet exchange students as these might be the first friends you can make 
•    Try to attend every university event