Host University

University of Victoria

Host Country



SP5, 2017


Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)

Why did you choose your host university?

I had a friend who had just recently moved to Vancouver, Canada, and not only did I desperately want to travel to Canada, but I thought what a great opportunity it would be to be able to visit my friend there too. Therefore, I looked up all the host universities around this area in Canada and UVic just seemed perfect for me, as it was close to Vancouver and had a special interest in Psychology. The campus also looked beautiful. 

What was the university like?

The University was incredibly overwhelming at first. It was so much bigger than any school I had ever been to, however the resources provided to us in the form of maps, information packs, as well as the constant availability of help by student services helped me to settle in fairly easily. I am particularly grateful to our introductory meetings for exchange students, as this is where I met a group of wonderful people, who would remain my close friends throughout, and after, the experience. I found the classes to be harder than what I had experienced back home, particularly as there were more of them weekly, and they were more face to face, there were no video recordings, so if you missed a class, you missed a class. The classes were also much smaller and more interactive than what I was used to as well.

At first, I found this to all be a bit overwhelming again, but I soon found this system to work well, and help people to work harder to succeed. The assessments too were more difficult, and there were also a lot more of them than I was used to, this was a bit of a challenge for me at times, particularly as I am a perfectionist and not satisfied with a simple pass, however I soon got into the rhythm, and managed to keep up with the others in my class. The teachers always had office hours which was very helpful for me when I was having trouble with anything.

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

I gained so much from my time on exchange. Not only did I get to experience something new and amazing, I also got to grow as a person. I found that my self-confidence, independence, responsibility, sense of adventure, as well as my realisation of the things that are really important to me strengthened greatly throughout my time on exchange. This experience changed a lot, particularly in the way I intend to go about my future career.

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

As I was not a first year, unfortunately I was unable to live on campus, however the Uni did send out a website link of off-campus housing options for students. After applying for a few, I was able to secure a room in a shared home relatively near to campus, before classes started. My place was small with a fair few roommates, not the most amazing accommodation, but it was not overly expensive and provided me with a room, kitchen and bathroom, as well as a backyard and pets, so I was overall satisfied. I would definitely recommend to future exchangers to use these types of online sites to find a place, just ensure you do so safely.

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

When I first arrived in Canada I was fortunate enough to stay with a friend in Vancouver, who showed me, not only around this town, but also took me to meet friends of hers in the United States in Washington. I therefore got to know Vancouver fairly well, often traveling on my own. Once I moved to Victoria, I did some solo travel around Vancouver Island, as well as travel with some newly made friends from UVic, as well as with photography group that I joined.

I strongly encourage fellow exchangers to join as many of these types of groups as possible as it allowed me to meet new people and travel to places that I never would have even known about if I were simply traveling around on my own. Later in my exchange I also travelled with some of my friends to Seattle, just a ferry ride across from Vancouver Island, and I also went on a bus tour to Banff to experience the Rocky Mountains. I would encourage future exchangers to travel as much as possible on their exchange, and experience their host country as much as they possibly can.

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

I was lucky enough to go to a country that was fairly similar to Australia with someone that that I knew there who was able to show me the ropes, and so I adjusted to life in Canada fairly easily. My first month in Vancouver I met new people through my friend, I also stayed off and on in hostels, so I met many travellers similar to myself, when I moved to Victoria I met a close group of international people also studying on exchange who remained my friends throughout the experience, I also met new people in my classes, in recreational groups at the Uni, by attending social functions, and by becoming a roommate.

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

Absolutely! With the ability to take classes that are not offered at my home university, I was able to narrow my interests, which were very expansive before this experience, into the field I wanted to pursue, which I am now doing so.

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

Do it! Get as much information you can by doing your own research, visit the exchange page on the UniSA site, email the exchange team with any questions you have, and particularly attend the many information sessions that the Uni offers, and just apply. I promise it will be absolutely worth it.

Top tips

Try not to go in with expectations. This trip was nothing like what I was expecting it to be. It was by far the most exciting, challenging, scary, lonely at times, but overall most rewarding and best experience I have ever had, and I would not change a single thing about it.

Also take as many photos as you can, you won’t want to forget a thing, trust me.