Danielle - University of Calgary

Bachelor of Business Management/Commerce
Semester 1, 2018
I developed a wide range of skills including a newfound confidence and ability to handle and excel in situations where I was out of my comfort zone.

Academic experience

I studied a mixture of electives and required courses for my degree. The Canadian system is very different to UQ in that it is a lot more reading and quizzes than final exams. I did five subjects while I was there and had as much free time up my sleeve as the other international students only studying three subjects! The biggest adjustment was that the lectures were not recorded but I made a lot more friends in my classes due to sharing notes.

Personal experience

Despite popular opinion, I made a lot of Canadian friends but also spent a lot of time with the international group. The University of Calgary is located a half hour bus ride from the practice ski fields or hour drive from Banff and I would often spend afternoons after uni snowboarding before heading out for social drinks afterwards. The university also had rock climbing, swimming and ice skating facilities when the weather was too cold. I sampled almost every winter sport available and travelled to all the surrounding ski fields in the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver region. The start of the winter semester is extremely cold (-30 degrees celsius) but progressively warms up to around 15 degrees by exam time.

Accommodation

I lived on campus and believe the international students who did got the most out of their abroad experience. Although it was costly, in the long run we were all closer to uni and to each other. This meant there were a lot more spontaneous trips and later nights out due to being able to travel together! I spent very little time in my room (only to sleep) as we were often out late and gone early in the morning. The underground tunnels were also a life saver when the weather was sub-zero as the university is very well heated and set up for both winter and summer climates.

Costs

Without a doubt accommodation was the biggest cost but it also included a meal plan which was handy. By studying in libraries I saved the money I would have spent on text books and was able to spend it on ski trips instead! The university offers a multitude of free activities and trials to engage in so, our biggest costs were spent on weekend accommodation and travel. Additionally, the University of Calgary has a cheap equipment rental shop to hire out rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, skiing and kayaking gear.

Professional Development

I developed a wide range of skills including a newfound confidence and ability to handle and excel in situations where I was out of my comfort zone. I became a lot better at budgeting money and my time, although both became scarce towards the end of my exchange abroad.

Highlight

With the friends I had made on exchange I was able to road trip to the Arctic Ocean at one of the northernmost Inuit community of Canada and Denali National Park in Alaska. There we experienced a ridiculous amount of up close and personal grizzly bear, moose, deer and beaver encounters while spending time with the elders and eating traditional food.

Top tips

My advice to students considering a winter exchange would be to start in January, as the winter semester is over by the end of April. This gives you time to experience both winter and summer climates and three months of travel time at the end of your exchange. By this time, I was confident in navigating both Canada and America and was able to join in on plans made by all my new found international friends.