Kelsey - University of Calgary

B. Sport and Exercise Science
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

My academic experience was quite different to that at UQ. I studied 4 courses in Canada, all of which were core subjects to my degree and included; Nutrition, Introduction to research, Motor Control and Learning and Adapted Physical Activity. For all of these courses, the class sizes were quite small and felt more like a tutorial than a lecture. Due to this you were able to engage with the lecturers more personally however the smaller class sizes meant that there were no lecture recordings and attendance was absolutely essential. 

Personal experience

One of the best things about Calgary is that it is so close to the Rocky Mountains and there is a tonne of outdoor activities to throw yourself into. It became a fairly regular occurrence for us to head up to the Rocky Mountains on the weekend to hike, ski, sightsee, visit hot springs lakes and more! As well as this I met so many amazing people from all over the world and was able to get an insight and more of an understanding of not one but several different cultures.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in Aurora Hall while at U of C. Having never lived on campus before, this was something that took some time adjusting to, however there were many positives to this experience. Firstly, it made transportation a lot easier as Calgary public transport can be a bit tricky to figure out. Secondly, and more importantly, it was easy to meet people and many of these people were in the same boat as you.

The awesome thing about Aurora Hall is that it is designed primarily for international students so as well as experiencing Canadian culture, I got to spend a lot of time with people from all over Europe. My only advice to those planning to stay on campus is to make sure you do lots of activities that are off-campus as well. I found that if you stay in one place for too long it was a lot easier for people to get homesick.

Budget

Overall the cost of living in Canada was higher than I had anticipated so I went through my money quicker than I expected. I budgeted $15,000 AUD for the whole trip including plane tickets, accommodation and winter clothes. With this money I also spent a week in Whistler after exchange and went on several weekend trips. My advice would be to budget a little more than this as the more opportunities you can say yes to the better experience your exchange is going to be.

Professional development and employability

I think the skills that I have developed throughout my exchange that will be most beneficial to my professional development are my communication and interpersonal skills. This exchange has given me a lot more confidence in myself and through this has made me develop the necessary skills to more effectively engage with people and seek information.

Highlight

The people!! One of the best things about exchange is that you start out completely on your own so there is a great motivation to meet as many people as possible. In my 4 months overseas I made good friends with people from all over Canada, USA and Europe. Experiencing things for the first time in a new environment with these people gave us all a sense of family that I will always remember.

Top tips

Pay Attention to your study plan!
Amidst the excitement of my upcoming exchange and the worry over whether my subjects would get approved in time I didn't pay enough attention to what I would actually be studying in Canada and as a result ended up with a pretty bland selection of subjects, some of which were in a lower year level than I had intended. Many of the friends I made while on exchange made this same mistake and overall the general agreement was that the exchange experience would be enhanced if you were taking subjects you actually enjoy. When you are planning your exchange it is very easy to think of part of it as a holiday because you are in an exciting location, however, this is not the case and overall you will have a lot better experience if you are organised around your study.

Make friends with the locals
Calgarians are some of the nicest people I've ever met. The first month of my exchange I didn't actually spend too much time with the locals as it was easy to fall into just doing everything with the people I was living with on campus who also happened to be international students. While this was great fun, I got more of a true Canadian experience once I started making friends with local Calgarians I met in my classes. I found that it allowed me to settle in a little bit more because I wasn't just doing tourist based things.

Don't sit still, travel and explore.
Do something new everyday, keep planning. The more things you see and do the better the experience will be.

Clothing
If you are going in the winter my recommendation is to buy your winter clothes over there. While there are some places you can get warm jackets in Brisbane, the reality is that it's going to be cheaper and better quality if you buy it over there. I bought a down jacket from Eddie Bauer which was a little more on the expensive side but it was well worth it and I found I didn't really need too many more layers other than this. If you are not too concerned with brand names then you can usually find what you are after for about half the price at Walmart.

Join the Ski Club!
Even if you can't ski or snowboard there is ample opportunity to learn on the many trips they hold. It's only $10 to join and you get heaps of discounts on and off the slopes as well. The ski trip I went we stayed for 2 nights in Banff and skied in the day at Lake Louise and I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of the trip. If you are looking to ski regularly there are also fairly cheap season passes at Sunshine or Lake Louise

Go to sporting events - especially Hockey!
Calgarians are very passionate about their hockey and it is definitely an experience not to be missed.