Lucy - University of Alberta

B International Hotel & Tourism Management/Business Management
Semester 2, 2018
The most action packed, fun, hilarious 5 months of my life!

Academic experience

On exchange i studied a total of 5 courses. Two of these subjects were marketing courses and the other three were general electives including anthropology and sociology. I really enjoyed my sociology course as it gave me an insight into Canadian culture , history and life. The workload was similar to UQ however they do not record lectures and some professors don't even post lecture notes , so it is recommended to go to all lectures and this took me a while to adjust to. Despite this i was able to still able to easily balance a good social/study balance.  All of my classes were quite small ( 20-30 people) which meant they were really engaging. I particularly enjoyed my Community Service Learning (CSL) subject for marketing where we got to connect with a real life not for profit social enterprise and write them a marketing plan for a group assignment.

Personal experience

Exchange is the best experiences i have had to date. The people I met and the memories I created will stay with me forever. Before , during and after the semester I had plenty of time to travel around both Canada and the United States. Canada is a huge country and there is so much to see. Alberta is a beautiful province and I definitely recommend getting out to the Rockies as much as you can. Some of my favourite memories include camping trips and stargazing in Jasper , visiting Lake Louise and Lake Morraine in Banff , visiting Vancouver and Victoria on Thanksgiving weekend and spending a week in reading week skiing at Sunshine Village with my group of friends. We also got the chance to head to Kelowna for the opening weekend for snowboarding in Big White which was an epic weekend. Campus life was super fun aswell. I loved the weekends in Edmonton where we would head out to Whyt Avenue. Halloween and Christmas parties were a big highlight too. Make sure you catch a few Oilers Hockey games and check out who is performing during the semester as i also got to go see Drake live which was awesome. Wings Wednesdays and karaoke Mondays at Deweys were some of my favourite mid week activities , these became big weekly rituals and always got me excited.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in a 4 bedroom apartment at Pinecrest House. The living area in Pinecrest is quite spacious and comes fully furnished. You do have to buy a few small things like sheets , cutlery and cooking equipment but i was able to sell/donate a lot of these things at the end. I got 3 amazing room mates who made my experience that much better. Pinecrest is a mix of International and Canadian students. Majority of my friendship group were from Pinecrest and it made it so easy for us to all hang out during the week and on weekends. When it gets a bit colder in December Pinecrest is convenient as it is a quick 2 minute walk to the Law building which connects you to the rest of the University without going back outside. Pinecrest also has an area called the East Common Campus which is great for studying and chilling out in.

Costs

I recommend budgeting to spend around $15,000 in total (including travel money). 

Rent
Pinecrest House 4 Month Contract : $3430 total + $500 security deposit that you get back at the end 

Food
Edmonton has a few grocery stores but the main ones i visited were No Frills ( the cheapest grocery store) and Safeways (closest to campus). I would try to spend around $50-$60 on groceries per week , however i often found myself also occasionally ordering Dominoes or "Skip the dishes" which is the Canadian version of UberEats. There are also nights were we would go out for wings Wednesdays and taco Tuesdays , however these nights are quite cheap to eat out! Remember that you do have to tip and this tip should be around 15%-20% depending on the service and size of your group. I also attended a cooking class run by the Campus Food Bank every 2 weeks. These classes were great as you got to cook with a new group everytime and get a free meal which was a bonus! 

Transport 
The University of Alberta requires you to buy a U-Pass. This transport pass is $148 CAD  and it allows you to ride any public transport for the whole semester. When going on weekend trips we would hire cars instead of taking the buses as it would work out to be cheaper. Domestic flights between Canada  are expensive so i recommend booking them in advance for a trip or waiting for deals. The budget airlines that I love were Flair Air , West Jet and Scoop. 

Travel
Travel was probably the area were i spent the most money. Hostels around Canada range from around $40-70 CAD a night.As mentioned above flights can be quite expensive as-well as Ski passes , board hire and other small things like that. In total i spent around $6000 on travel.

Although the whole experience seems expensive it is so worth saving for.

Challenge

My biggest challenge during exchange was probably arriving to the University by myself. It is a nerve racking thing knowing that you have to make new friends from scratch in a new city but it is also very exciting. You meet so many people so quickly that its easy to feel settled in and comfortable by the first couple of days or so.

Professional Development

Exchange helped with both my personal and professional development. The whole experience taught me to be open , increased my confidence and pushed me to try new things that were out of my usual comfort zone. In terms of professional development i got to work diverse people and groups from all around the world which was great. I also learnt about Canadian business and marketing which is knowledge that i will carry with me during the rest of my learning and future career.

Highlight

It is hard to choose just one highlight but for me it would be the people i met and the places we visited. I never though that i would make such a good group of friends on exchange and i now have friends to visit all over the world.

Top tips

- Say YES to everything and have fun with your exchange. Make the most of every moment as 4 months goes by very fast! 
- Get involved in clubs and events such as the Red Eye Games 
- Take physical photos to hang up on your bedroom walls , it makes your room feel more like home
- Make the most of the cold weather and don't get scared off by it! Just make sure you have thermals , layers and one good coat. The snow is beautiful in Alberta and i had so much fun living in the cold. 
- If you want cheap winter clothes or clothes in general go to the Value Village it has heaps of great stuff that is super cheap. It also has great costumes for Halloween. 
- GO SEE AS MUCH OF CANADA AS YOU CAN