Host University

University of Ottawa

Host Country



SP5, 2016


Bachelor of Laws Double Degree

Why did you choose your host university?

To be honest, it was Canada that I had my heart set on and chose rather than Ottawa specifically, that university was one of the few I was eligible to apply for so I kind of fell into it, but in the best way possible. Looking back having experienced it, I would say I would have chosen it for its sense of community, school pride, amazing on campus student living options, location (right in the centre of Ottawa, small walk to heart of the city) and amazing course elective options for my degree.

Alexandra RossiWhat was the university like?

There was always something going on! The resources amazed me, especially in comparison to my home uni, for example they had Pet Therapy, where each Friday you can pat dogs just for your wellbeing, free gym and pool facilities with free gym classes running daily. They also have so many fun sporting games to participate in. Assessments consisted mainly of midterm tests/quizzes accompanied with essays, online quizzes or reports. 

What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

Personally, I gained so much knowledge, of not only myself but of other cultures and of the world. I also gained confidence in myself, knowing that I can face so many different challenges and not only overcome them, but grow from them. Leaving home to live overseas, leaving my family, friends and boyfriend was an experience that not only taught me so much about myself but affirmed so much… I didn’t find that I changed in a huge way, but felt that I felt more sure in myself as a person, which gave me a more confident approach to life.

Group of studentsWhat accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

So many options! I loved how there were SO many different forms of accommodation, from student accommodation literally in the middle to campus, to independent living off campus with other students or by yourself. uOttawa had a department which dealt exclusively with accommodation and housing and provided YouTube videos, pictures, layouts, Facebook pages and information on each residence. I chose the Marchand residence in the middle of campus which was a residence for first year students and international students from around the world. Living in a student residence was the main way I met people and made friend, and was the best decision.

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

Both! I travelled all around Canada, from weekend trips to whole week trips on my semester break, including Montreal, Toronto, Banff, Quebec and Jasper. I then travelled to USA which was literally a neighbouring country. Ottawa is literally on the border of Canada and the US, so a 30-minute weekend flight to New York for a concert proved so much fun. I then travelled around the US for a month after with a dear friend I made on exchange also from UniSA, from Vegas for NYE to San Fransisco, LA and finishing up in Cancun, Mexico for a few days! The travel possibilities are literally endless and that’s what drew me so much to the experience to begin with.

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

As I was in Canada, I didn’t experience a whole lot of culture shock, but I did have moments where I felt overwhelmed and living life on the opposite side of the world was hard to adjust. In the first few weeks there were a lot of ups and downs, by putting myself out there and meeting new people through meet and greets, parties and Frosh week activities.

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Definitely, future employers look for people who are able to adapt to new environments, have experienced other cultures, have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone to experience challenges and the world. It showcases so many skill and is a real life valuable experience.

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

JUST DO IT! Don’t hesitate or over think it.  It’ll seem daunting and scary and perhaps a little crazy, but it’ll be the best thing you ever do. Research the country and culture and get excited. I knew heading over and starting the experience by myself would be daunting so I planned to travel to New York for a week first on a Contiki trip because I knew id love it and it would be something I’d look forward to.

Top tips

I have two… Firstly, if you have the option, stay in student accommodation. It was the way I made most of my friends, and living with your best friends for 3 months is an absolute ball, and constantly being surrounded by friends was amazing when I was so far from home.

Secondly, when you find out what university you’re accepted into, get in contact with the exchange department at UniSA and they’ll send you the emails of anyone else heading to the same uni as you, so you can make contact with each other. That’s how I met Emma, an amazing friend of mine now… neither of us knew each other before we left but we caught up and ended up travelling around Toronto together for a week before our exchange, had so much fun together for the months throughout, and travelled around the US and Mexico for an hour after together! Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone to make friends will be worth it!