Megan (English & History)
Without wanting to sound too twee, it was definitely a life-changing experience. There are so many positives about studying abroad, but I believe one of the greatest perks is the diversity of the courses offered that I could not have otherwise studied, such as Canadian literature and history. It was also fascinating to study more familiar topics from an alternative perspective and through a different style of learning. The work ethic at Queen’s is highly motivated with emphasis on oral assessment. This is encouraging for those who, like myself, usually shrink at the prospect of presentations and public speaking.
In terms of finances, the Bobby Jones Scholarship was a huge help with regards to flights and academic resources, and definitely worth writing the short essay for! The cost of living and accommodation is similar to St Andrews. Travel as much as you can, although pencil in potential travel dates in advances as holidays are sparse (we had a day off for Thanksgiving in the first semester and a week off in second semester).
For those considering a year abroad, my advice is: DO IT! Throw yourself in at the deep end: travel hard, work hard, play hard and seize every opportunity that comes along. The Canadian students are wonderfully friendly and approachable. Keeping in touch with people at home also helps so you don’t feel out of the loop, but you’ll have more to tell upon your return if you get out there and experience as much as possible. So just go for it!
Calum (International Relations & History)
Having spent a year studying at Queen’s University in Canada I am completely smitten, and would encourage anyone thinking of a year abroad to apply. I was one of many students from around the world who got to know each other as we battled our way through the group chants, paint-fights and exhaustion of ‘frosh week’; and formed friendships that endure even half a world away.
International students are really encouraged to get involved, and I was one of many who managed to get a job within the university, which gave me a great opportunity to meet other students. This is just one example of how international students are integrated into the student body, something I really appreciated. The ‘can-do- positive attitude and limitless friendliness of the Canadian student population is a constant inspiration and encouragement to get out and do more. If I wasn’t organised before, I soon was. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to go to Canada, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it for the world.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto was a great place to spend a year abroad. Whilst it has all the excitement of a big city and all the advantages of a major research university, its collegiate system means that you can feel very at home in Toronto as you become part of a small, college community.
UofT’s main campus is in the heart of Toronto. and during my five minute walk to class each morning, I would see the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum (which looks like a space-ship), some of the cinemas used for the Toronto Film Festival, and (only once) Chris Rock. Toronto is also a very international city so, as well as experiencing Canadian life, I got to live in Koreatown, study Caribbean literature, and make friends from around the world.
Spending a year abroad was definitely a challenge. The workload was greater than at home and I had to start from scratch in terms of making friends and getting to know how things work (with everything from cell phones to exam criteria). Budgeting for the year was also much harder than I’d expected. That said, now that the exchange is ending, I wish I could have a second year in Toronto and I hope to apply for graduate studies in North America. For me, the highlights were spending Thanksgiving with a friend’s family in the countryside, attending a K’Naan gig exclusively for Toronto students, and joining thousands of other of UofT students in a Frosh parade.
Tamara (Biomolecular Sciences)
What a happy year! It is inexplicable just how amazing the whole experience was. I enjoyed myself tremendously and I still managed to have a thoroughly productive year too. From snow days to playing hockey and enjoying the friendliness of Canadian people – I have to say I enjoyed it all. Friendly atmosphere, approachable professors and stimulating lectures. I say you’d better start applying now because going on an exchange may just have been one of the best decisions of my life.
Catriona (Management and Geography)
Study abroad has been one of the most life-affirming, challenging and enjoyable periods of my life to date. Breaking out of the St Andrews bubble gave me a new perspective on university and enhanced my experience as an undergrad hugely. The Canadian system operates quite differently and it was incredibly satisfying to get to grips with the different style of writing and examination. The wider array of classes on offer introduced me to new facets of my subject which I hadn’t previously explored and I was taught by some incredibly engaging professors with very alternative teaching methods.
The highlight of the year was a combination of the lifelong friends I made and the places I travelled to. I saw the Niagara Falls, Montreal, Chicago, Muskoka, Anguilla, Saba and Muskoka alongside fellow students from all around the world – our adventures are amongst my most treasured memories. This is not to devalue the beauty of Canada and the area where I stayed – Western’s campus is second to none and my halls became a home away from home. To anyone who is considering going on exchange: do it, do it, do it!