Jessica - University of Alberta

B. Exercise and Nutrition Science
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

The courses I studied were 3rd and 4th-year nutrition and food science courses. Classes were different in some ways to what I have experienced at UQ, as classes were smaller than what I am used to, which made it easier to interact with both the professors and classmates. Another difference is that lectures weren't recorded which meant my class attendance improved dramatically compared to Australia. Some classes combined a lecture and tutorial, which made for longer classes than I was used to, but I really enjoyed this format. One challenge I had was trying to find courses compatible with my degree in Australia, as many of the ones I had approved before I left were unavailable for me to enrol in once I arrived in Edmonton. Although this took time to sort through and work out my options, by being persistent I eventually found courses that both related to my degree and I ended up really enjoying.

Personal experience

There were so many unique things that I got to do in Canada that I wouldn't have been able to experience in Australia. One of the most exciting things was seeing snow for the first time. The Canadian winter was definitely a lot colder than I expected but the novelty of seeing snow every day when I looked out my window was something I never got sick of. The snow meant that I got to try skiing for the first time, which was something I have always wanted to try out. Watching and learning about ice hockey was definitely another experience that I loved, it's definitely something I plan on following back in Australia. Throughout all the experiences I had I got to meet a lot of people and make lots of friends, which was probably one of the best things about exchange.

Accommodation

University of Alberta, dusted with snow
University of Alberta, dusted with snow

I lived on campus in International House. Living on campus was great, especially being there in the Canadian winter where it wasn't uncommon for it to get down to -25 degrees or colder, as it meant less time spent outside getting to classes. I also found it to be a reasonably social living arrangement. I had my own bedroom and bathroom but shared a kitchen and lounge area with other people, which meant I got to meet lots of other international students, as well as Canadian students, who were living there. I would definitely recommend living in I-house to other exchange students.

Budget

My costs for the semester were approximately:
Rent in I-House-$3000
Food-$2000
Transport-$150
Entertainment-$500
I also would budget plenty of money for travelling. One great thing about U of A was its reasonably close proximity to both Jasper and Banff national parks, which meant it was pretty easy to hire a car with other people and head to these, or any of the other national parks in Canada, for the weekend and do things like skiing or hiking. Mid-semester break and both before and after semester were other good opportunities for travelling, so I would definitely recommend seeing as much as possible during these times.

Professional development and employability

While on exchange I got to know a lot of people from all over the world, which helped me learn about other cultures which will definitely be useful in the future. I also became a lot more decisive, and better at taking initiative, which will help me in the workplace in the future. It has also made me think about my future career pathway, and I certainly feel now like I am more prepared for life once I leave university.

Highlight

There were so many amazing things about exchange that its hard to pick just one highlight. One of the most amazing things was definitely getting to see both Jasper and Banff. Experiencing the Rocky mountains in real life is something that I have wanted to do for what feels like my whole life so it was quite a surreal experience actually getting to go there

Top tips

  • My top tip would definitely be that if you are considering going on exchange to just do it!! I got to make so many friends and have so many amazing experiences which you will get no matter where you go.
  • I would also recommend travelling while you are there as much as possible. There are so many awesome places to visit, the biggest difficulty is definitely choosing where to go.
  • My other tip is to say yes to as many things as possible. So many of the best experiences I had while away were things that I didn't necessarily feel like going to at the time. If I hadn't had a positive attitude and just go along to these things I would've missed out on some awesome times.
Jessica - University of Alberta