Why joining an international society is worth it!

Some of the best experiences I’ve had at UBC have been through joining the Exchange Student Club (ESC) – I met some of my closest friends, travelled across parts of Canada, and most of all, made some incredible memories. Here are some of my highlights from Semester 1:

SUNSHINE COAST

The first ESC trip was definitely one to remember! We stayed for the weekend at Camp Potlatch on the Sunshine Coast, a boat ride from Vancouver. If you could picture a typical North American-style camp that you often see in movies this was it – wooden cabins with very, very hard bunk beds and no electricity, big communal meals where we all chanted camp songs, and all this whilst being surrounded by luscious green forests and calm, blue ocean.

Nothing like arriving at a beautiful camp in the middle of nowhere and being told about all the bears and cougars you could potentially run into! Wasn’t best pleased to hear about a group of 10 year olds once being chased by a cougar. But luckily they taught us the trusty ‘Go away bear’ technique in which you stand up to the bear, raise your arms with your hands in the shape of claws and loudly say in a low-pitched voice “Go away bear!!”. I was very much hoping I wouldn’t have to test the effectiveness of this method at any point – especially as my cabin was one of the furthest into the forest, up a big rocky hill, where I doubt anyone would be able to hear you if it hadn’t worked. Luckily we all survived!

Of all the trips the ESC run throughout the year, I would say Sunshine Coast is a must because you meet so many people from countries across the world, and some will become your closest friends during your time at UBC. The camp offered a range of fun, buddy-making activities such as canoeing, paddle boarding, hiking, rock-climbing and archery. My canoe partner probably wished they hadn’t ended up with me when I was too busy watching seals instead of paddling! We also had campfires in the evening and all participated in a big showcase where each group had to put on a performance that told us something about the country they were from. This was a lot of fun to watch and it was really cool learning about other national traditions. I also learnt that slip n slides aren’t for the faint-hearted!! You have to cover yourself in washing up liquid and hurl yourself forward onto some wet tarpaulin that stretches downhill and race to win a flip cup battle. I didn’t quite realise how brutal this can be for your body – at the end I had battle scars that looked like I had encountered a cougar after all (see below)!

 ROCKIES

Another amazing trip the ESC run is one to the Rocky mountains in Alberta. As a geographer being able to see these incredible glacial landscapes first-hand was definitely a highlight. The infamous Lake Louise was frozen when we visited, providing this great photo taken just after I thought I heard the ice crack! This is where we also had a very slippery walk up to the Agnes Tea House for a hot chocolate. Who knew snow was so tricky to walk on?! I soon gave up on the way back and slid down the hill on my bottom – something I thought was a great idea at the time but slightly regretted  later when I had to wear wet leggings for the rest of the day! We also got to see the Athabasca-Columbia icefields – huge white glaciers, lakes, and frozen waterfalls. You know, the type of Canada you tend to see on Mac computer screensavers. There were also lots of wildlife spotting opportunities – bears, elk, deer, and a pack of wolves! Definitely worth the 10 hour coach journey to get there!!

THE ‘PIT’

One thing the ESC is known for here at UBC is their every other Thursday Pit nights at the university bar. They’re called YOEOs = You Only Exchange Once! Which I think is a great motto to remember – you have to make the most of everything! Each night has a different theme and they’re a great way to have fun, look slightly silly and meet fellow exchangees. These range from ‘snowpants or no pants’ (pants meaning trousers remember!!), tropical themed, to ‘where your own flag’. If you want to dance to cheesy tunes all night this is the place to be!

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Beach themed pit night!

WINTER GALA

To end the first semester at UBC, the ESC held a winter gala, giving everyone the opportunity to dress up and celebrate the end of the decade. It is crazy how fast time flies here – it felt just like yesterday that I was holed up in wooden cabins with some of my, now, closest friends. Unfortunately not everyone stays at UBC for the year and so it’s a bittersweet evening having to say goodbye to lots of friends. On the plus side now I know people from places like New Zealand, Australia and Brazil (just to name a few!) so I can definitely look forward to future travels where I will be welcomed by some friendly faces.

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Here’s to Semester 2 and the making of more memories!

On the importance (and unimportance) of grades (for me) (in hindsight)

So, I tend to overthink things. A lot. Before coming to Canada, I was worried about how study abroad fit into my university career. Would I be behind when I got to Canada? Would I be behind when I got back? What if I dropped marks? I have the whole of the rest of my life to travel, so maybe I should wait?

Let me take a moment to walk you through a few reasons why I shouldn’t have been too caught up in how study abroad would affect my academics, and why you might not need to worry too much either:

Unsurprisingly, like a good number of other students, I have anxiety and I normally have difficulty giving myself time off. The first advantage of study abroad is that it gives me an excuse (an excuse to myself that is) to take time out to explore. Changing my environment so drastically also gave me an opportunity to change my habits; there were fewer expectations and routines attached to my new space, so I have been able to construct healthier and more productive study habits, based on what I’ve learnt about my learning style in my first two years of university.

Surprisingly, the difference in structure has also been a big help. I was worried before coming to Canada about the heavier workloads and the more frequent assessments, but far from being a problem this has actually been very beneficial; going from 100% exams in Manchester to grades split between finals, midterms, assignments and quizzes has had an amazing effect on my anxiety. I’m much happier, and my grades reflect this. Over this first semester I’ve engaged more deeply with the lectures and understood more as a consequence. I’m still a little nervous that I will struggle when I get back, but I’m hoping I’m putting down a firm foundation to work from when I return for my final year.

Another reason not to worry too much is that grades aren’t everything. In the longer term, study abroad can improve resilience, independence, and the ability to work with diverse groups of people, as well as other skills that employers look for. It also lets you explore the diversity of cultures within your field; if you want to stay in academia, you can use this experience to explore what atmosphere you want to be in. In physics for example, Guelph and Manchester are worlds apart; I’ve gone from a class of 250 to classes of 12-20. I know everyone, and everyone knows me, including the lecturers. I’m much happier asking questions, and when there are four deadlines on the same day and it’s just not going to happen, it can be resolved with a simple conversation.

So far, this experience has had an amazing effect on my anxiety, which has in turn had a positive effect on my grades. Study abroad is an enriching opportunity, and I’m happy I was able to look past my academic worries. Every story is different, but I think there is always a lot you can learn from challenging yourself, even if it’s just that being away from home for so long isn’t your thing. If you have the grades & skills to succeed, and if it feel right, just go for it!

Best Thrift Stores in Montreal

Winona Newman, Concordia University

Montreal’s a pretty expensive city when it comes to bread, butter and beer but you can really start saving money by thrifting. What with the social and environmental implications of fast fashion it can be a really great way of supporting local organisations too. I’m a massive thrift store fan so I was delighted to find thrift stores on a whole different level to those you find in the UK, even in Manchester. Montreal’s thrift stores are massive, almost department stores, carefully organised, well stocked and extremely well priced.

When you’re first moving to a city you’ll probably need some bigger ticket items, especially moving into Canada’s harsh winters. It can be tempting to freak, get ahead of yourself and order things online or buy from well established stores. But if you can bear to hold out slightly longer you’ll find thrift stores starting to fill up with all your winter essentials. I bought myself a massive winter jacket (it feels like wearing a duvet) for £14 and I’ve seen many a pair of snow boot for less than £20 which, when bought from a ‘proper’ store can set you back 100s. Just check the quality of everything you buy, google the makes and check for rips and broken zippers.

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite thrift spots here, most of which I’ve bought jumpers, tops, shirts and trousers from all for about £3-4 so they’re definitely worth checking out, whatever you’re looking for.

Fripe-Prix Renaissance

5500 Boul Henri-Bourassa E, Montréal-Nord, QC H1G 2T2

A massive charity shop located in the Plateau. They sell loads of clothes as well as books and home-ware.

L’Armée du Salut

1620 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec H3J 1M1

This Salvation Army thrift store has almost everything you could want, a great place to grab kitchen utensils and furnishings as well.

Eva B.

2015 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H2X 2T3

Eva B is more of a vintage shop, they sell really interesting clothes and they have a cool cafe with amazing vegan cake. Definitely pop by, it’s an experience in itself.

La Maison du Chainon

4375 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Z8

This is a really nice little shop selling a range of interesting clothes for really good prices, including snow coats and boots.

Have fun, shop sustainably and save money:)

Campus vs City life

After spending two years in the bustling city of Manchester and having university buildings spread all along Oxford road, it has been nice to experience life on a university campus. I have listed below a few topics of comparison which have been both positive or negative during my experience abroad.

Campus Halls Vs Fallowfield housing:

After spending my first year in university halls and upgrading (or some would say downgrading!) into private housing in Manchester, I got a good flavour of what living in a city was like. It was an opportunity to live with people you had gotten on well with and be in a house independently without the bother of parents. The freedom of this is great and is the first time your home really feels like home rather than living under the supervision of someone else.

Moving to Calgary was almost a throwback to first year as I decided to move back into university halls on campus. This was a great opportunity for me to meet likeminded exchange students who were in a similar position. My flat consisted of four rooms which were split by a shared kitchen and lounge area in the middle. My halls were quite big with around 25 flats on each floor and 4 floors in the building, presenting the perfect chance to interact with other students and get to know people you were living with. Being close to everyone gave a similar feel to Manchester halls, although the main difference was each hall was a mix of a certain year group rather than purely freshers. My hall was predominantly exchange and international students, which was the perfect chance for me to meet people who wanted to do similar activities. This made it more difficult to meet the local Canadians as most of them lived at home, but I don’t think this was too big of an issue as I met a lot of them through societies such as the bouldering society. I would definitely recommend living in university halls while abroad on a campus, as it gives you the chance to meet people from all over the world who are looking to travel and explore the new city, as opposed to locals who have lived there for their whole life.

Food choices around uni:

As most of the university buildings are along Oxford road, there is a large and diverse range of dining options when around uni. This is great for grabbing a quick coffee or lunch, with a range of different cuisines and styles of restaurants available. The same cannot be said for the food options available on Calgary’s campus. If you don’t have a pre-paid meal plan, the main place for food on campus is in a place called Mac Hall. This consists of quite a few fast food restaurants of different cuisines. Unfortunately, most of these are quite unhealthy and the range of food is not that great. The food here also tends to be quite expensive which I think is something they could look into changing, as they know the only customers are students and staff. A lot of the time I find it easier and cheaper to pop home to make lunch myself, but sometimes this is not possible if I have little time between lectures. Personally, I prefer the larger choice and price range of restaurants around Manchester as it accommodates for a larger audience and can be more economical for money conscious students.

Distance to lectures:

This is a big difference between being on a campus rather than at a city university. In Manchester, I have to travel on a busy bus from Fallowfield to northern campus (where most of my engineering lectures are) most mornings, which takes around half an hour. This can be quite a struggle especially if you have a lot of early 9am lectures. Coming back from uni is also a challenge, as the magic buses can fill up very quickly and you can be waiting to get on a packed bus for long periods of time.

The University of Calgary campus in the fall of 2019.

This hassle is eliminated by living on a campus, as every building is within walking distance from my accommodation. This is great for people who want that extra time in bed in the mornings and means you don’t have to travel far to make those dreaded 9ams. Like I mentioned before, it is also easier to quickly route back to your flat if you have forgotten something or want to prepare some food during the day. I like this aspect of the campus when contrasted to a city but sometimes it can be very tempting to take a quick afternoon nap instead of that extra hour at the library!

Roeterseiland Campus – University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam has four campuses located around the city. As I study social sciences I am located at Roeterseiland campus which is located just East of the city centre, in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam.

Continue reading “Roeterseiland Campus – University of Amsterdam”

Day in the Life – UBC

After having completed 1 semester at UBC (wow time flies!!) I thought I’d share what a typical day looks like (the fun and the not-so-fun bits!)

7:30 am

Setting off for my 8am lecture – yep you heard me right, 8am!! It’s safe to say I now appreciate UoM’s 10am lectures a lot more. But on the plus side it was pretty cool seeing the sunrise over the mountains! The view never gets dull

8 am – 11 am

Time for class! Today I had two 1.5 hour long lectures straight after each other which is quite a lot that early in the morning haha, but you learn to push through (with the help of a big Tim Horton’s coffee!). The classroom style can be quite different to UoM –  it can feel slightly like you’re back at school!

11 am – 12:15 pm

Usually between classes I’d try and catch up on a few readings and eat lunch in the IKB learning centre on campus. This library has a more chilled atmosphere compared to other ones on campus, and it’s nice to study there with friends.

12:15 pm – 2 pm

Last class of the day yay!! I was lucky to finish every day at 2pm last semester leaving my evenings free to explore Vancouver and see friends:)

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2 pm – 4:30 pm

Fitting in a few more hours of studying back in my uni accommodation – Walter Gage! It’s so close to everything on campus which is really useful and plus I lucked out with a pretty incredible view of the mountains and downtown Vancouver! It can make it a struggle to concentrate on work though haha

5 pm – 7 pm

When on exchange you want to try and do and see as much as possible in the place you’re lucky enough to study in. In this case I caught the bus with friends to South Granville to explore some of the best thrift shops in Vancouver – Mintage Mall had lots of great, not too expensive finds!!

 

7 pm – 9 pm

The food Vancouver might be best known for??? Sushi! This was my first sushi experience EVER (crazy, I know) and I have to say it was pretty good:)) The Yam (Canadian for sweet potato) sushi rolls were delicious!! I’ll definitely be visiting more sushi restaurants this term.

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Before Leaving…

It’s been a while since I last thought about moving to the States. I was 17 when I decided to become an exchange student in a Canadian high school, and since then, I thought my experience abroad was over. But now, once again, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel, to discover a new culture, and to get to know myself a bit better. Isn’t this extraordinary?

In eight days I’ll be on the plane. Destination? Phoenix. No turning back. Me, my luggage, and all my expectations and fears. What if I won’t like my housemates? What if I won’t like the courses? But c’mon, think about all the opportunities you’ll have, all the friends you’ll make. You’ve always watched High School Musical, and you’ve always been dreaming of those lockers, the cheerleaders, the football team! There is more to gain than to lose!

Going abroad is one of those experiences that simply form your person. it teaches you to expect the unexpected! Every day is a different story, and you just have to trust the journey and try out all you can, with no judgment. Eventually, you’ll find out that it’s all you’ve always been waiting for! That for how tough it can get, you’ll always get up and get back in the game stronger, because it’s your game and no one can win it but you.

I’m ready for this, I can do it. What about you?

Student Nations at Lund University

One of the most unique things about studying in Lund is it’s organized student life. Many universities have student unions, however none are quite like Lunds. The first “Nations” were founded in 1668, based on geographic regions in Sweden, and historically students who came from that area would join the according nation. For example students from Halland province would join Hallands Nation, and students from the East would join Ostgota. In the modern day all 13 nations are open to anyone who wishes to join, and offer a wide range of activities to be involved in. This includes putting on cheap student meals and lunches, cinema nights, pubs and clubs, as well as organising day trips such as hikes and other outdoor activities. Whilst every nation will offer the basic activities, each has it’s own speciality, for example Kalmar nation focuses on outdoor activities, whereas Sydskanska nation aims to be the go to place for electronic music. This makes the small town of Lund, with a student population of around 40,000, seem a lot bigger as there is an activity on most days of the week.

 

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Sydskanska Nation (AKA SSK), where I became a Foreman.

 

What makes the nations even more successful is that they are all entirely student run, and rely on volunteers to make their activities happen. This is quite unique and as a British student I found it hard to believe that people would volunteer their time so freely. However after getting involved with a couple of activities, I discovered what makes them so special. I first volunteered as part of a pub team, and the Foreman (the person in charge of the activity) made the atmosphere very social and welcoming for the workers. I ended up becoming very good friends with him, and after taking part in a few more activities, I decided to sign up to become a Foreman myself. In true Swedish tradition, the nation meeting where new Foremen are voted in took around 3 hours, and was conducted entirely in Swedish. Whilst this wasn’t the most exciting start, it was followed by some free food and drinks. I signed up for the Kafe Matine post, a film evening on Sundays, where my responsibilities included cooking a vegan meal for around 40 people, and choosing one of my favourite films to show. This was quite hard work to organise at first, however being a Foreman also brings quite a few perks. 

 

The first of these was a weekend trip, where all the Foremen at the nation were taken to a large cottage 1.5 hours from Lund, in a lovely remote location by a lake. We were cooked a meal, and given a “small” supply of free drinks. An aspect of Swedish social life that is very different from what I had experienced before was the focus on “organized fun”, and an evening with the nation often involves a lot of games and challenges. The cottage also had a sauna by the lake, making the weekend very relaxing and fun. Overall becoming involved and volunteering with the nation was one of the highlights of my time in Sweden, and I would recommend it highly for anyone considering studying in Lund!

It’s been a year already?!

I hope you appreciate that slice of The Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Juicy’, it took me ages to work out how to do that. It actually reveals a deep suspicion i’ve had for a while now – did I really study abroad? Or was it all a dream?!

It’s been so long since I left for Australia. After a year it seems almost as if I never really went. To have such an intense, unique experience and then almost suddenly leave it behind for your life to continue back home would have anybody questioning what on earth just happened. (Side note; honestly on this freezing cold November afternoon i’m starting to question whether the sun was part of this study abroad dream. Here, in Manchester, I can definitively say that the sun does not exist. I didn’t realise as I flew out of Brisbane airport I would be waving goodbye to both Australia and the SUN). So, in a way I guess studying abroad is dreamlike. For a long time it’s the only thing on your mind. There is preparation, scheduling, excitement and sheer panic for a lot of the time leading up to it. Then the actual experience is intense and fleeting. Finally as if waking up from a dream, life resumes at home. You’re left thinking ‘wow that was pretty cool’, and then dive back in to the business of English life and dreaded final year projects. In this sense the experience builds a degree of mental resilience – it’s a lot to come out of being abroad and carry on studying.

The aftermath of studying abroad isn’t all that gloomy though. There are loads things that have come out of it. For me, i’ve been inspired to travel so much more. It’s mental how flying out to a foreign country once on your own makes you realise how much freedom you have. Just this summer I visited some Dutch friends in Amsterdam that I met in Brisbane (big up foreign friends and free overseas accommodation 😉 ). Afterwards I spent 2 weeks driving around the entire coast of Ireland in a camper with 4 other guys. This is a super corny thought but the good times aren’t over when you come home – it’s accurate to say studying abroad is a catalyst for even more crazy adventures later.

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Silly times climbing the tallest mountain (Carrauntoohil) in Ireland – we left way too late & got lost in the dark trying to get back

My aim in this post isn’t to villainize England. Coming home is necessary! However I think the ‘dreamlike’ nature of going abroad resonates with a lot of the people that have studied abroad themselves. To me it was like a roller-coaster that I decided to just dive off at the end. Theoretically I could have stayed on that ride forever and not bought a return ticket, to become some sort of surfer hermit and live out my days in a beach hut. As much fun as that might’ve been I, unfortunately, had a million good reasons to come home.

Fear not fellow travellers, this isn’t the first and last time we experience the amazingness that is study abroad. It was not some one off dream. There is literally the world to explore and SO much time to do it!

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That’s definitely the back of my head in Australia – we can confirm it was not a dream

Study Abroad Reflections on Return

I have been back in Manchester for a semester since living in Australia for one year. I have learned so much from moving away and living on the other side of the world. Studying abroad is such an amazing and unique way to grow academically and personally in a short period of time.

Before I moved to Australia I really believed that I would be heartbroken when I left but I wasn’t. I was so grateful for the experiences, opportunities, and friends that I had made but I was excited to come back home. Studying abroad has made me realise how small the world really is. A flight across the world only takes one day! Since being back in Manchester I have had two Aussie friends come and visit me and have Facetimed with others almost daily. On reflection I wish I hadn’t been so worried about leaving as I am so happy to be back in Manchester!

Another reflection upon returning is how quickly a year passes. It only feels like last month that I was writing my application to study abroad and attending all of the pre-departure sessions. I can’t believe that I am already back. One tip I will give that is a bit cliche is say yes to everything! Your time flies by and you will regret the socials you didn’t go to and the trips that you missed to stay in and study.

The highlight of my year in Australia was definitely all of the travelling and trips that I did! I would recommend saving some money for road trips and spontaneous holidays as they really made the year. It is depressing to write this post in rainy dark Manchester knowing that this time last year I was in Bali.

Studying abroad is the best thing I have done during my time at university and I would recommend it to anyone. I would say go into your exchange with zero expectations. Don’t worry about the small details as you will look back after a year and wonder why you were so worried about them. Join societies, travel as much as you can and enjoy yourself as before you know it you will be back in Manchester.

 

 

Mountains, lakes and more mountains!

After living in Calgary for two months now, I have had the opportunity to experience not just what the city has to offer but the surrounding areas as well. One of the key attractions of Alberta is the Rocky Mountains, which contain some of the world’s most amazing landscapes. Within a short driving distance, you can be immersed into beautiful national parks with truly breath-taking views.

Canoeing on Lake Louise

The first park I visited was Banff, and more specifically Lake Louise. This is a famous lake that is surrounded by a vast mountain range allowing stunning views. We took the opportunity, while it was still warm, to canoe on the lake before it freezes over. This gave a whole different perspective of the lake as instead of looking at it from the edge, you were within touching distance with the emerald green water. The contrast of the warm sunny weather with the snow capped mountains in the distance was a truly increadible sight. There was also a short hike up to a viewpoint allowing you to see the lake from above. On the way was a small teahouse, which was a great lunch spot after a tiring walk!

After seeing Lake Louise, we went to see Lake Moraine which was easily accessible by bus. We were very keen to see this particular lake as it closes for the winter months. The lake was a more azure blue shade which I personally prefered, which looked great with the sun shining. There were more great views although we didn’t have the opportunity to see it from above as the trail was closed. After seeing these lakes we headed back to Banff town, which had a small ski resort type feel. It was full of buzzing restaurants and shops, with plenty of places to buy clothes or souvenirs. It also ran a regular shuttle bus back to Calgary, which came in very useful after an action packed weekend!

Lake Moraine

A few weeks later we decided to do our first challenging hike in a place called Kananaskis, which was one of the closest ranges from our campus. We drove to a fairly desolate location and ventured through a small gap in the trees to start our hike. We were further excited by the chance of seeing the famous Canadian wildlife such as a moose or if we were lucky a bear. Sadly we didn’t see either but this was compensated by seeing the spectacular view at the summit of the mountain. It gave great views of the surrounding ranges and vegetation that could survive the harsh conditions at the top. It was not a popular route with lots of tourists so it was very peaceful at the summit and gave a real sense of harmony.

The third place we visited was Jasper national park which is one of the better known parks in the Rockies. Like Banff, there was a small town full of shops and restaurants which gave us a chance to have some great food in the evenings. It wasn’t just the views in Jasper that were amazing but the 5 hour drive from Calgary provided some stunning scenery. Whilst driving we stopped at  a few locations along the way including Bow lake and .. Icefield. It was incredible to see some of the most beautiful mountains that Canada has to offer from the window of a car. This also gave us the perfect excuse to stop the car regularly and absorb the view from the side of the road. Once in Jasper, we attempted the most difficult hike to date. It was relatively short at 8.6km but had an elevation of 1300m over this distance. As this was in late October, the weather was getting colder and as we approached the summit, we encountered some very steep and slippery terrain. At some points the snow was also knee high and made for a challenging but enjoyable day. Sadly the day was slightly overcast, so the further we ascended the more the visibility diminished. After a very tiring day it was nice to relax and enjoy some downtime in the hostel and have a nice meal out with friends.  

UBC: tips and tidbits!

I can’t quite believe I’m already a quarter of the way through my UBC experience, but I am absolutely loving life in Vancouver! Now that I have fully settled in to the busy UBC lifestyle, I will attempt to put some of the many things I have learnt and experienced whilst being here down on paper.

UBC has a massive campus, full of things to do and see – it’s so big that I still get lost sometimes! One of the must-do UBC experiences is the weird and wonderful Wreck Beach, where suns out bums out is taken very literally. Yes, UBC has its very own nudist beach, and during the start of term it is full of people socialising and relaxing. It is known for having a ridiculous number of steps to walk down to the beach (and unfortunately back up again!!) but wow the sunsets are definitely worth it. Another site on UBC I’d recommend visiting whilst the sun’s still out (sadly it’s not called Raincouver for nothing) is the Botanic Gardens which has a tree canopy walkway and some lovely trails. It also has the Museum of Anthropology located on campus where students get in for free! UBC is located on the territory of the Musqueam Peoples, and the museum has an incredible collection of Indigenous artefacts and totem poles. The main mall, where the majority of buildings are located,  is surrounded by huge trees which all turn bright orange and red in ‘fall’ and it is so beautiful. This will normally be swarming with people because UBC is home to 60,000 students! UBC is also home to one of the campus’ biggest celebrities: the fountain seagull, who is always there to photobomb your pics.

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A stunning Wreck Beach sunset!

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A selfie with the fountain seagull!

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UBC’s Botanical Gardens

 

Within the first couple of weeks I felt like a true Canadian watching the UBC ‘Homecoming’ football game in the pouring rain with a giant thunderbird poncho on. I still have absolutely no clue what the rules are and struggled to find the ball half the time, but it was a lot of fun and a chance to get some free merch.

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A very rainy ‘Homecoming’ Football game!

Since being here I have also taken part in UBC’s Day of the Longboat, where you race in dragon boats across a section of Jericho Bay in teams of 10. It is so hilarious trying to canoe and stay afloat when none of you have any experience whatsoever – a definite highlight of my time at UBC so far! I’d also recommend checking out some of the UBC ice hockey matches because they’re really cheap for students and a great alternative to the Vancouver Canuck matches.

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My Day of the Longboat team – we amazingly managed to placed 3rd in our race!!

Unfortunately you do have to do a bit of work too and as an exchange student it can be hard getting the balance between studying and having fun. For me UBC’s academic system has been one of the hardest things to adjust to because the work load is a lot more continuous than back at Manchester. I would highly recommend to any future UBC students to take full advantage of the first month and travel and see as much as you can in Vancouver and the surrounding areas, because from October onwards the library and Tim Horton’s will become your best friends! Assignments and mid-terms all seem to come at once, and unlike other universities you don’t get a study break in term 1, making it quite hard to juggle deadlines. However, each assignment/exam is worth a lot less so it does reduce the pressure on a single piece of work, and once you start figuring out what each professor or class is looking for it becomes a lot easier to manage. Don’t worry you will still manage to have a lot of fun, but my friends and I have come up with some useful (hopefully!) tips to help find the balance and ease any worries!!

  1. If you’re struggling with an assignment or you have a lot of deadlines at once go and talk to your professor! They understand you’re exchange students and don’t want to be holding you back from experiencing as much of Canada as possible, so tend to be flexible and generous with deadlines. I had a midterm that clashed with the exchange trip to the Rockies and my professor arranged a make-up assignment for me to do after the trip.
  2. Don’t get too hung up on or stressed about the work load! It can seem overwhelming at first but remember you are only on exchange once and I have found that the standard of work at UBC is easier to that at Manchester. Breka Bakery is nearby and open 24 hours so buy yourself a cheeky donut to help you get through the late study sesh!
  3. Try and chat to people in the first couple weeks of classes because it really helps knowing people for when you can’t attend a lecture or if you’re unsure of what the professor expects of you. For example, I am so used to having to so wider independent reading at UoM but here referencing is almost non-existent in the work I’ve done so far. Also it’s a great way to meet locals!
  4. Don’t expect the best grades ever – remember you’re there to have fun and explore Canada too!!

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    Indulging on grilled cheeses and donuts at Breka Bakery to help us through the late study sesh!