Jonathan - Queen's University

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2023
Going to class in -20 degrees whilst it was snowing is also something I will remember for quite some time.


My main motivations for choosing Canada was that I wanted to experience university life in a completely opposite climate to Brisbane and gain an idea of what aspects of their public sector is different to Australia. I am considering the public sector as a career pathway, so I thought it might be helpful to see other ways a government could function in a similar political system.

Personal Development

During this experience I learnt the importance of problem solving, effective organisation and taking on challenges. For example, when I became homesick during the second month of the semester, primarily due to the temperature often being below 0 degrees, I found I was wanting to stay at home quite a bit and neglect going to my classes. However, I knew if I did this frequently my experience would be worse because it would be difficult to maintain the friendships I had made during my first month at Queen’s. So I had to problem solve a little bit and come up with strategies that would force me to be distracted from the weather. I decided to meet up with new friends either in the library or the food court between my classes as this would stop me from thinking about home during my spare time and further immerse me into Queen’s student life. As such, I think I have improved greatly upon my interpersonal communication skills throughout this experience. Additionally, the semester required me to be organised with my university work, more so than I have ever been at UQ. Queen’s is a very active university, and many students take pride in their ability to balance their social life with assignments. As an exchange student I felt this pressure as well and coupled with an eagerness to travel to nearby cities such as Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, I needed to be regularly setting myself earlier deadlines for assignments. Being able to manage these responsibilities has a great pay off as I now have friends all over the world and feel comfortable challenging myself in an unfamiliar environment.

Academic Development

I had to take 5 subjects to match the full-time equivalency with UQ. These courses were in the departments of history, philosophy and political science. Throughout the semester I felt I had considerably more assignments to do than I would usually have at UQ. There was usually two pieces of assessment due most weeks. In response I needed to be more pragmatic with my time management and how I could be aware of upcoming deadlines. A helpful habit I developed was to write down all of my due dates on a calendar so I could make sure I was not going to accidently forget about any of the smaller assignments. Whilst it was definitely time-consuming to complete all these assignments I did not find them extremely difficult and it is completely possible to pass without too much stress. Most of my assessment were either essays or exams, and I did not have to do any presentations. However, two of my housemates were business students and I think they had quite a few presentations to do, so the type of assessment you receive depends on what you are studying.

Professional Development

I think I have developed a variety of skills which have contributed towards my professional development. This includes being able to manage competing responsibilities and having greater intercultural awareness. An example of this was during reading week (mid-semester break) when I wanted to travel to Quebec but knew I had quite a few assignments due the following week. In order to manage these competing responsibilities, I decided to set myself goals for what I wanted to get done in these assignments before I left for my trip. I knew if I left the majority of these assignments to the following week I would have been stressed out during my time in Quebec and would not have enjoyed the activities I was doing as much. While this example is not directly related to a workplace setting, I think the process of setting goals to manage competing demands is something valuable that I could transfer into my career in the future. Making friends with people from different parts of the world has also contributed to my intercultural awareness. I became close with a group of French exchange students who would sometimes speak in French instead of English when we did things together. This at times could make me feel a little excluded from conversations. I was forced to consider things from their perspective when this happened, and realise they might be talking in French as a way for them cope with their homesickness. Being surrounded by people from many backgrounds has certainly made me more aware that people have different ways of doing things and that it is healthy to take on other viewpoints.


The cost of living in Canada is very expensive so it's pretty important to make sure you are not overspending on things you do not need. I often tried to limit how often I ate out at restaurants or bought drinks at pubs. Doing small things such as this will allow you to have more money for travel. Overall, I spent about $13000. Rent was $815/month, $600 would cover food for a month and travel cost me about $5000. Flights between Australia and eastern Canada are also quite expensive, I spent $3500 for my return flight. I would recommend saving up anywhere between $12000 and $15000 if you want to be comfortable during your exchange, but you could get away with less if you do not plan to travel outside Kingston too much.


I received an OS HELP loan and UQ grant. Both were helpful as it meant I could travel a little bit more and not have to always stay in a hostel. I only received my grant towards the end of the semester however as it could only be paid after UQ's census date. So it is not something that should be relied upon when planning your budget.


I found my accommodation through the Queen's University Off Campus Housing Facebook group. The university did not offer any on-campus accommodation to exchange students due to an increased demand by domestic students, but it was not difficult to find a place in the Facebook group. I managed to sublet off a student who was going on exchange for the semester, and the house was located less than 5 minutes away from campus. I highly recommend trying to find housing early and getting somewhere close to campus as this will help incredibly on days when it is -20 degrees. A lot of house parties also happen closer to campus so it is a much more eventful area to stay. My house consisted of six people, three Canadian guys and two other exchange students from France. If you want to live somewhere clean I would probably clarify with the person you are subletting off if their housemates clean regularly. I think my house only cleaned once properly throughout the semester, and the place became pretty disgusting towards the end.


The highlight of my experience was probably just going to university in a smaller city that had a large student population. Queen's student life is very different from that at UQ and most students take time getting to know each other outside of their classes, which makes going to university a lot more enjoyable. Going to class in -20 degrees whilst it was snowing is also something I will remember for quite some time.

Advice/Top Tips

My advice if you are considering going to Queen's is to only travel to other parts of Canada after the semester. If you make friends with a lot people from some of the larger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver, you can easily get free accommodation when you want to travel. I saved quite a bit of money in Toronto by staying in a friend's downtown apartment.