Alexandra - Queen's University

Bachelor of Arts/ Business Management
Semester 1, 2018
I'm so grateful to have learned so much about many different cultures from my international friends and the places I visited.

Academic experience

At Queens I was part of the Smith School of Business and studied 4 courses in that faculty and 1 in the Arts/Social Sciences faculty. The courses were; Introduction to Marketing (COMM131), Introduction to Macroeconomics (ECON112), Operations Management (COMM341), Project Management (COMM495), and Management Control Systems (COMM414).
What I enjoyed most about the Business School was the smaller class sizes and shorter, seminar style lectures. Hence, the classes were more interactive and I was definitely more involved and interested in the topics we were discussing. The economics class I took within the Arts faculty was a larger lecture style much like UQ. At UQ I am used to handing in assignments and essays after 3 weeks of being given the task, but at Queens there were weekly deliverables so that was something different I had to keep up with. A challenge for me was time management and being able to submit deliverables in advance of their due date because of travel plans I had made. For example, I submitted a report at Montreal airport before boarding a flight to Cuba, when it was due a couple of days later. Managing the study/travel balance is difficult but so worth it if you can handle the challenge.
Choosing courses and getting my study plan approved was difficult for me because I'm doing a dual degree so I didn't have electives to choose and had to find courses that corresponded exactly with what I'm studying at UQ. I struggled with finding courses with a good match to UQ courses, especially because I went in the Winter semester so Queens had a smaller range of courses available (AND I had to find 5 courses!). However, once my study plan was approved it was easy to enrol on the Queens website. You do have to watch for when enrolment opens though, because courses will fill up fairly quickly. I did miss out on one subject I wanted to do. After you enrol in your courses you get a set timetable, unlike UQ where you have to choose which time slot you want to be in.

Personal experience

The biggest challenge for me was getting used to the weather. It was extremely cold. I had never been overseas before or seen snow, so I was completely out of my depth. The trick is to know how many layers to put on depending if its -20 or -5 degrees. Once I had figured out how many layers kept me warm for different temperatures and activities, it was much easier to handle the climate.
I met so many cool people from all over the world, a lot of Euros and even Aussies! I had a great group of exchange student friends and we did a lot of travelling together. 10 of us went to Cuba and stayed in Airbnbs for Spring Break, a lot of us went to Montreal for a weekend which was organised by ETC in the Business School, and 5 of us went to Quebec City for Easter Weekend. After the uni semester finished in April I went on a road trip for two weeks through the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver in a van with 3 other exchange students and it was honestly the best time. After that we met up with some others to travel around San Francisco and LA for another two weeks (without the van though).
From travelling together, you definitely really get to know the other people you're with and get on each other's nerves but I'm lucky that we were all able to forget our differences easily and learn from these moments. Some conflicts were due to cultural differences and misunderstandings, so it was interesting to sort things out and really understand how we came to such disagreements. We are still all friends now, so everything does resolve and is fine in the end :)

Accommodation

I found my accommodation from looking at listings on the Queens website about sub-letting. The listings are really detailed and say the cost, who and how many people are living there as well as what they're studying, and also the proximity to the campus. The room I got was off a girl who was going to study at ANU for the semester so it was a nice cultural swap. I was living with four other girls who I got along with extremely well. None of them were studying business though, but it was good because they took me to parties and introduced me to their other friends, so it just expanded my network of friendships! I lived less than a 10 minute walk to uni which was SO good and such a change to the travel I have to do to get to UQ.
I highly recommend sub-letting instead of trying to get a place in residence because the students are all first years in res.

Costs

The local bus was free with your student card which was awesome, although getting a bus to other cities via Greyhound or Megabus was expensive if booked last minute (so try to plan and book travel arrangements in advance). I definitely blew my budget on food to try all these new things Australia doesn't have like poutine, authentic maple syrup, and different cereals and snacks. I only went skiing once and it was cross-country skiing, but it was cheap to hire the gear locally in Kingston ($40CAD) and going to the Cataraqui Conservation Area (local to Kingston) is such a great place for it.
I recommend having at least $10,000 for exchange if you're planning on travelling before or after the university semester. Canada is such a big place that it does cost to get around. I was away for 6 months and was scraping the barrel towards the end.

Professional Development

From all of my travel experience I'm more aware of the importance of budgeting and sticking to it, as well as planning ahead. I'm a pretty independent person and I think this really helped me on exchange as I had the confidence to do a lot of things that were unfamiliar to me and I wasn't afraid to try new things where some other people were.
Queens is a competitive university and I saw that a lot in the Smith School of Business. Everyone wants to be there and are very interested in their futures. A lot of students talked about the internships and Summer jobs they were going into after the Winter semester. I found the students confidence to call random companies and businesses to get information for assignments inspiring as they really tried to reach out to firms for actual answers compared to textbook answers. The environment at the Smith School of Business really made me motivated to engage and be proactive about my future in business when I returned home.

Highlight

There are so many highlights from my exchange, but my favourite would have to be experiencing St Patrick's Day! Everyone dresses up and crowds into this one street called Aberdeen and parties all day! It's the best vibe.
A highlight of my travels was exploring Banff and Jasper National Parks. The scenery is incredible and I'm so glad I could do it as a road trip with some great friends I made at Queens.

Top tips

For students interested in Queens or just thinking about it as an option, I cannot recommend it enough!! It is such a great university and it exceeded every expectation I had of exchange. The faculty staff are amazing, as well as the exchange coordinators. And the students are very friendly and love Aussies. Queens is the definition of work hard, play hard. The students are very studious and care a lot about their performance, but also know how to party and have a really good time.
If you end up going you must watch an ice hockey game, eat pounair at Mr Donairs, eat poutine at Smoke's Poutinerie and Pita Grill, and have lots of maple syrup!

Quote

My entire exchange at Queens and subsequent travel made me realise how much opportunity and potential there is outside of Brisbane, and the avenues I can pursue outside of Australia. I'm so grateful to have learned so much about many different cultures from my international friends and the places I visited.