Laura - Western University

B. Communication / Arts
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

I took my electives on exchange with me so I chose to study a variety of interesting subjects including Music, Psychology and Media subjects. I found that the classes were very similar to UQ despite a couple of challenging differences. The main one is that Western DOES NOT record their lectures. For UQ students who are privileged with being able to watch their lectures online from bed when they are sick, this was quite challenging. Make sure you make a friend in each class! Most people are pretty willing to pass down their notes (especially to the foreign student in the class).

Personal experience

Of course, the main thing that I gained whilst on the exchange was the invaluable friendships. I made friends with people from all around the world and it is incredibly interesting to learn about different cultures and to even find out what things you do/ say define Australia culture, which you had no idea about! I also gained a huge amount of independence and feel as if I am able to adapt to situations much better. I had my fair share of things going wrong including delayed flights, missed busses, broken down trains etc, but you learn to make the best of these situations and to do what you can. I think that this is an incredibly advantageous mindset to apply to many real-life situations in day to day life and in your career.

Accommodation

I chose to live on campus at Alumni House. Alumni House is an upper year accommodation as the other halls cater mainly to first-year students. Although it is a bit quieter, having experienced UQ college life for several years, this worked perfectly for me. Alumni House mainly comprised of exchange students so I made lots of international friends. I also opted for a meal plan which meant that I didn't have to cook if I didn't want to. The only downside to this option is that there is no dining hall within the building meaning you must go to one of the residences next door. This was fine when the weather wasn't too bad, but it was a bit of a trek when outside was waist deep in snow!

Budget

I found costs to be quite similar to Brisbane. Living on campus is definitely a more expensive option, but you pay for the convenience of being right next to the campus and the opportunity to meet so many new people. You pay for a bus pass at the beginning of the semester so 'free' bus travel is an easy way to get around London until the service stops at around midnight. Travel around Canada certainly isn't cheap, but the Greyhound bus is a good way to travel city to city. The longer in advance you book, the cheaper the fare! I was only there for a semester and many of my friends and I chose not to get phone plans because these were much more expensive than Australia with much less included (Data was especially expensive).

Professional development and employability

	 The Thames River in front of Western University
     The Thames River in front of Western University

I have developed an attitude to try new things, take risks and be adventurous. This new found confidence has developed my character which I hope will help me in my career development. I have also learnt to be much more accepting of doing things in different ways and stepping out of my comfort zone.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was definitely the travel as well as seeing snow for the first time! Being in London, I had a platform to explore the south-east side of Canada, much of the US and even fit in a trip to Mexico for some sunshine. Of course along the way making lifelong friends was incredibly amazing and overall it will be an experience I will never forget.

Top tips

  • My top tips would be to give everything a go.
  • Try using a bit of the Canadian language/slang, eat lots of poutine (local Canadian dish), go to Tim Hortons and try Tim Bits (doughnuts) and get involved in everything that you can!
Laura - Western University