Maiya - University of British Columbia

M. Architecture
Semester 1, 2018
You develop freedom, independence, confidence from all of the new experiences and challenges that happen.

Academic experience

The experience in terms of how the school - School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture (SALA) is run and behaves is similar to UQ. I studied a vertical design studio, which replaced a standard design studio from home. I studied landscape architectural theory, which was a brilliant, engaging class that challenged students through informal debates arguing over highly topical questions such as the ethics behind terraforming. It also allowed students to present theoretical information in models and graphical presentations rather than essay format. I also took a Landscape planning, sustainability and ecology subject in the place of practice/technology home subjects. This was a fantastic learning experience otherwise unavailable at home. Make friends with other students in your classes so that you have support system when classes are challenging and confusing. Enrolment and registration was similar to UQ online, but double check that courses may change and always make sure you reapply for approval from UQ of any changes.

Personal experience

There is so much to gain from going on exchange. You develop freedom, independence, confidence from all of the new experiences and challenges that happen. Friendships, places and exposure to things otherwise unavailable at home are so worth all of the challenges.


Working in studio.

I subleased an apartment with one other person, between host campus and the city, closer to the CBD side. Which I preferred. It meant that I went to uni regularly and was part of campus life but also living in the city meant I engaged with that part of Vancouver as well. I would recommend living off campus if you can but not too far. Always check what public transport is available and estimate how long it will take so that you don’t spend all of your time commuting.


Transport cost $152 for the whole semester. This doesn’t include extra travel outside of the city. Any Canadian travel is very expensive, like Australia or worse such as buses, trains, flights.

Drinks and food is expensive, similar to Australia but then adding exchange rates etc makes it even more expensive. UBC was a wonderfully engaging social university so expect to spend money if you are socialising with other students on food/drinks/outtings. Groceries were also very expensive, I think most things were about double or triple the price compared with Brisbane groceries. 

Rent in Vancouver is very expensive I spent just over $800 per month which was considered cheap there. Budget in for extra experiences like skiing, adventures, whale watching, travelling to other nearby cities. Do heaps of research before any travel.


Hiking Old Growth forest, Haida Gwaii.

I struggled with the weather. Vancouver is very wet and cold, constantly. Developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very common and it is a struggle to motivate yourself every day.

Professional development

Learning confidence in your ability to be resilient and independent both professionally and personally, on the other side of the world is pretty special.


It is hard to pick, so cutting down to three: hiking in The Rockies, travelling and camping on the Alaskan Marine Highway and camping in rural Alaskan towns and finally, volunteering and doing extra studies on a UBC school trip to Haida Gwaii (even though my studies had officially ended).

Top tips

  • UBC SALA was a great school to learn from.
  • Engage with your courses, teachers and other students, particularly studio culture which is strong there.
  • Take the opportunity to learn things that aren’t available at UQ eg landscape architecture courses.
  • Take adventures outside of school.