Chloe - Western University

B Environmental Science
Semester 1, 2019
Easily a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Canada in a whole different light.

Academic experience

As an environmental science student at UQ, I saved up my electives to be used whilst on exchange. Three equivalent courses at UQ equaled four courses at Western University to which I participated in Geography of Canada, Geography of hazards, Geography of tourism and Climate Change. These courses were significantly easier than the courses I usually take at UQ and the content was very interesting and engaging! One of the biggest differences I experienced was that lectures were not recorded and in most classes there was assessable components of each class making them all compulsory (even when it was freezing outside!). 

The classes were structured to include lecture and tutorial content all in one although it was sometimes spread throughout the week. Luckily, each class had some teaching assistants (TA’s similar to our tutors) and they were always available if you had questions. The enrolment process was very easy and class sign is similar to UQ i.e. classes go very quick. The Western timetable also runs from 8am until 9pm so make sure you organize your timetable so you’re not stuck on some of those later classes.

Personal experience

I really enjoyed the whole exchange experience. I managed to make lots of friends who lived in the residence, some from Australia and many overseas. I was nervous about not studying in a big city because I was scared it would get boring in a smaller town but I was so wrong. I am so grateful for the location that Western University is because it made travelling to Toronto and other cities so much more exciting. Whilst studying, I managed to travel to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Chicago, Niagara Falls and even Vancouver and Whistler during Reading Week (mid-semester break). Travelling with friends also strengthens that new friendship to a bond that will last. During the week there was always something happening to be apart of whether it was Molly Blooms Karaoke on a Monday or watching legend Rick Mcghie at the Spoke on a Wednesday, there was something happening almost every night.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in Alumni House Residency. While it was a little more expensive than off-campus housing it is a lot more convenient and a lot of international exchange students tend to also live on-campus. Alumni House and London Hall are the two “upper year level” housing options as opposed to the first year residencies and I am very happy that I chose to be in an upper year level residency partly due to the age difference between us and the first years who if they have just left school are around 17/18. I loved having so many other internationals in chose range who were also experiencing the same things as you. Occasionally Alumni would hold special nights in the common room with pizza, movies and games.

Another perk of living on campus was the option to have a meal plan. The upper year residencies don’t have dining halls but it’s just a two-minute walk to the next residency with a dining hall which was no problem. I was very unsure about how the dining hall food would be but I was pleasantly surprised. The food was delicious, fresh and healthy. Western strived to have organic, fresh options with a rotating menu meaning you barely had the same thing twice. The meal plan also meant that you could buy food on campus stores and at the end of your time, you get all the money back you haven’t spent.

Costs

Living on campus with the meal plan was definitely the most expensive thing next to flights. But it was a once of payment of approximately $6000-8000 and then any other expenses were at your own accord. Going out was similar to Australia however every club had an entry fee. The tuition fees included a bus pass and the bus ran everywhere in London so you’re daily expenses were very low. I say $15 000 would very comfortably suffice including flights and accommodation as well as any travelling you wanted to do where travelling in the USA is more expensive than Canada so just keep that in mind when making travel plans.

Challenge

One of the biggest challenges during my exchange would have to have been the cold. My exchange was January to April where it was very cold and almost snowing everyday. The campus was closed down for two days in different weeks due to freezing rain and the campus has not closed for something like six years. London is located in a snow belt meaning it is always covered in a nice thick layer of beautiful snow which makes it being that cold almost worth it. I would just say to invest in a worthy coat and be prepared to always be wearing at least three layers when you’re outside, even if you look like a marshmallow compared to the Canadians.

Professional Development

During my exchange, I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. It’s almost like being in first year again where you don’t know anyone and all the buildings are unfamiliar. This feeling however only lasts the first few weeks. I joined the German club and the Outdoors Club to try and meet some new friends and as scary as those first meeting where I was so glad I joined. This helped build my confidence and people skills which I am sure will help me in a professional sense.

Highlight

The highlight of my trip was meeting my new friends and travelling. I was fortunate enough to travel during my semester and also for a month afterwards and getting the opportunity to experience more of Canada was amazing. Making memories with my friends was also something I will never forget and having those connections all of the world will surely come in handy when travelling in the future.

Top tips

One piece of advice I would give to future students would be to get involved in as much as you can. I have never really been involved in clubs and societies at UQ but seeing as I was only there for a short time I tried to make the most of it. The Outdoors club does weekend trips like dog sledding and hiking to waterfalls which is an experience you wouldn’t usually get to have. The sports they offer are also very diverse with Dodgeball being a favorite among internationals! Definitely try to get involved in as much as possible because it will be over before you know it.