...in Vancouver, Canada
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
As a WU student, Melanie Hofer spent an exchange semester at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. On this page, she tells us about her experiences.
You spent an exchange at the University of British Columbia. What was your personal motivation for doing so?
For an adventurous and travel-loving person like me, it was clear early on that I would like to spend a longer time in a foreign country at some point. When the time finally came to apply for a semester abroad at WU, it wasn't easy for me to make a decision given the huge selection of partner universities. In the end, I chose the University of British Columbia in Canada. There were several reasons for this. On the one hand, it was very important to me to go to an English-speaking country where I would have many opportunities to travel and meet new people outside of my studies. In addition, I had already fallen head over heels in love with Vancouver during a two-month stay after graduating from high school, and I really wanted to go back.
How was your arrival in Vancouver and how did you perceive the campus of the partner university?
Since the semester already started at the beginning of January, I started the new year in Vancouver in the company of my (at that time still vaguely known) colleagues from WU. To our surprise, it was even snowing when we arrived, which was very unusual for the metropolis.
The UBC campus is located a bit out of town and a 40-minute bus ride from the city center, but it offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and is also located directly on the ocean. With over 60,000 students in all fields of study, the university is one of the largest in Canada, very diverse and expansive. There are a variety of learning opportunities, restaurants and cafes, as well as sports facilities and green spaces.
Can you tell us something about the academic offer? Where are differences WU?
The classes themselves are much smaller and more interactive than at WU. Classes consist of lectures, group projects, and tests. The professors try very hard to encourage students to learn, so the effort remains very constant throughout the semester and the final exams are often not a big stress factor anymore. In addition, both fellow students and professors are very considerate of exchange students and their usually busy travel schedules.
Through the numerous interactive and sometimes real-life projects and group work, I was also able to use the knowledge I already had at WU and share it with my fellow students at UBC. Through this variety of different interests and learning styles, you also develop a new perspective on a lot of things, which is still often very useful to me today at WU.
What acquaintances and friendships did you make?
During the five months I was allowed to share an apartment with four other students and so I made my first contacts on the very first day. In our shared kitchen, we often cooked together, celebrated and exchanged ideas about our origins and cultures. The house was located in a kind of housing estate, where most of the exchange students were also accommodated.
Since it was very difficult to get in contact with real Canadians outside of classes, most of the time was spent with other exchange students. However, this was in no way a bad thing. As a student abroad, you see everything a little more relaxed and very often approach tasks with a different attitude and bring the courage to do many new, unknown things. You are much more open to other people and cultures and can learn a lot in the company of like-minded people and take a lot with you for your later life.
How did you spend your time away from the university?
Apart from university, I used every free minute to travel and discover new places. Whether skiing, hiking, surfing or city trips, Canada has it all. A road trip on Vancouver Island in an ancient VW bus was probably one of my highlights and can only be recommended. I can also advise not to plan anything in advance after the end of the semester abroad. There are so many new and spontaneous travel opportunities during the semester that you might regret having planned everything in advance.
Overall, I can say that my semester abroad was the best experience I have had so far. I will always think back on the time with a smile. I have become a more open, courageous person who has risen above. I made friends and created memories with them for eternity (and my grandchildren). Therefore, I can only recommend a semester abroad in Canada (and anywhere else in the world) to everyone and encourage them to have this experience as well. It is truly not easy to put an experience of a semester abroad into words at all, but the memories and experiences will last forever!
Content and pictures by Melanie Hofer. Thank you very much!
University of British Columbia
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Population Vancouver: approx. 630,000
Number of students: 62,923
Exchange level: Bachelor, Master