Host University

University of Calgary

Host Country



SP5, 2017


Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology (Honours)

Why did you choose your host university?

There was a broad range of subjects offered that were really interesting to me which was great because you need to be flexible with what subjects you want to study. I was lucky enough that I have some cousins living in Calgary too which was also part of the reason why I picked University of Calgary.

Cathy RoweWhat was the university like?

Compared to UniSA City East the campus was HUGE! It was a bit overwhelming in the first few weeks but you soon figured out the easiest way to get to classes. All the teachers were really lovely and cared a lot about your wellbeing and wanted the best for you. Assessments are a bit different as they have mid-term exams that were often worth quite a lot more than the end of semester exams. There are a stack of organisations on campus that are there to make you feel welcome. From the International Student Centre that plans trips every fortnight or so, to faculty clubs, student union and sporting teams anything you could need is there on campus. There’s also a medical centre, food court and free gym on campus too.

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

I had never lived or travelled by myself before so have definitely gained a lot of independence from going on exchange. There were also no expectations of you so you could do whatever you wanted or go anywhere whenever you wanted. I have learnt how much food I need to buy to get me through a couple of weeks and how to make a meal out whatever is left in the cupboard. I try and make the most of my spare time since being back and catch up with friends as often as I can because exchange has made me realise how much I truly value them.

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

There were a few different accommodation options available: shared dorms, apartments either with or without a kitchen having between 2 and 4 bedrooms and apartments with meal plans. I chose to live in the cheapest option which was a 4 bedroom apartment with a kitchen in Cascade Hall but I probably would’ve chosen this one anyway as I thought it would be the best way to meet the most people straight up. I also liked the option of having a kitchen and being able to make my own meals.

Cathy Rowe skiingDescribe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?

Before I started exchange I did a two week camping tour around Western Canada. This really helped get rid a lot of my anxiety I had about leaving home as I got to meet some really awesome people and see quite a bit of Canada’s amazing scenery. During exchange I tried to go on as many weekend trips as I could that were generally about 1-2 hours away. I was also lucky enough to fly to Yellowknife and see the Northern Lights which was absolutely incredible! After the semester I travelled to Eastern Canada for a couple of weeks which was great because it was completely different to where I was based for the last 4 months but also freezing as it was the middle of winter. I saw a very small part of USA too -New York and Hawaii on my way home.

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

One thing you will notice straight away is how nice everyone is and 9 times out of 10 someone will hold to door open for you so make sure you do the same! Tax isn’t included in displayed prices of anything so make sure you have a bit extra cash to cover that. With that in mind tipping is also expected, generally at a minimum of 15% of your bill anywhere you have table services (restaurants, diners, pubs etc.). Sharing housing with people is a great place to first make friends. At the start of the Fall semester there are a number of social activities that are a lot fun and a great place to meet people. There were also opportunities to join residence sporting teams that played weekly.

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

Yes definitely! By the end of the semester I had really settled into the way of life over there and made myself at home. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and seek out opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to me. I developed professional connections with both staff and students that will undoubtedly be useful in my future. I was also lucky enough to be able to volunteer whilst on exchange too and gain insight into how different organisations are run as well as build interpersonal skills that will be transferable to my profession.

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

If you’re worried about going solo, try not to be. There are lots of people in the same boat as you on exchange from all over the world so you have something in common with them already. There are lots of support services to help you settle in too and remember home is only a phone call away.

Top tips

Say yes to pretty much everything! Go on weekend trips, skip a class here and there, trust me it’ll be worth it. Try and take as much money as you can with you so you don’t have too much FOMO (fear of missing out) because there is so much to see and do. Ask your parents to lend you some money or apply for a travel loan you can put on your HECS. At the end of the day I know it’s cliché but the memories and the friends you’ll make are priceless!