Oh Canada! What a stunner!


Named as the number one travel destination for 2017 by Lonely Planet, Canada is an incredible place to take part in an exchange. University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at nine partner universities in this beautiful country: Mcgill University (U21) , McMaster University, Queen’s University, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta,  University of British Columbia (including Law), University of Calgary, University of Toronto (including Law), University of Western Ontario (Law only).


Let’s hear what our students have to say!

“On my arrival to Vancouver, I instantly fell in love. It was for sure one of the most beautiful cities I had ever been in and I knew I would enjoy my next six months there.” – Hanna Mellsop, University of British Columbia


“Coming from Auckland, I quickly found myself immersed in a city designed for living. Montreal is a social hub that is constructed of small, unique neighborhoods each with their own flavour and feel. With flat streets lined with often beautiful two-story apartments, and a metro line running throughout the centre into the outer suburbs, Montreal is incredibly well connected. Living in a city that has been designed for people, not money, is incredibly liberating and has fostered a unique culture of individuality and expression. This culture is primarily centred about the arts; countless alleyways teeming with graffiti, spare brick façades dressed with grand scale murals, local bands playing gigs every night of the week. There are beautiful, exciting cafes and restaurants that seem to pop up everywhere with their own specific style and edge. With a French colonial foundation and a vast student population, the multiplicity of culture within Montreal is brilliant. Each person I encountered seemed to hail from a world completely different to that which I had experienced. ” – Luke Boyle, McGill University


“I knew when I chose McGill that I wanted a North American experience and Montréal would provide a good opportunity for that, mixed with a European influence. The city certainly met that expectation, giving not just an amazing and diverse place to live but a great opportunity to travel further on the Canadian and East Coast of America.” – Alistair Munro, McGill University


“In terms of the university culture UBC had all the elements of a North American university. Frat parties, a football team, a gazillion clubs to join, heaps of events and a huge college sport atmosphere. One highlight of living in Vancouver as a student is also the access to a really cheap bus card that allowed unlimited transport throughout the region on all ferries, trains and buses. This saved all of our lives, and our bank accounts enabling us to really explore as much of the city as we wanted. I honestly don’t think that there could have been a better city in Canada to do an exchange. Vancouver is amazing, surrounded by mountains, islands and the sea there is so much to see and do! I think I hiked almost every weekend and only completed around 5 per cent of all the hikes there are in total. Proximity to the West Coast of the USA and also Whistler was so handy for adventures and skiing. There was always something to do like going to the circus or a show, seeing the ice hockey, ice skating for free at university, walking in the harbour, shopping or even visiting the many different suburbs of Vancouver. The geology was incredible, words cannot describe how beautiful this city is and how many camping trips I ended up doing with bears at high risk!” – Amelia Vinnel, University of British Columbia


On orientation:

“Kingston is a beautiful town with small boutique shops, the friendliest people and lovely pathways to walk along the lake. The campus was incredible, laden with great stone buildings and ample space to study in numerous cafes and libraries. I found that the cost of living was relatively similar to that of Auckland which made budgeting easier.As soon as I got to Kingston, I immediately made friends, other exchange students, to brave the orientation week with. NEWTS week orientation, an orientation programme not only geared towards exchange students, but also transfers and international students, was an absolute blast. Activities included a paint party, day trips and even a semi-formal, which was a great opportunity to get dressed up!” -Astra Druker-Michaels, Queen’s University

“Arriving at Calgary, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it soon became apparent to me that I was going to have an amazing semester. The orientation week activities set the pace for the time ahead. The halls of residence ensured that the floors mixed and got to know each other right off the bat, so making new friends came easily; this was something that I was apprehensive of leading up to my trip. We did challenges, went to the arena to watch teams on their opening weekend, and sampled the local nightlife for a week straight. One of the stark differences was the overall feel of the campus. Not only was it considerably larger, but it had an atmosphere that is very different to one here at The University of Auckland; it felt like there was a heightened sense of community and people were really open and friendly.” – Adam Crompton, University of Calgary


“In the first few weeks, I managed to find my feet. I knew where all my classes were and I had met a bunch of cool people through the events that the ‘exchange student club’ put on for us all. I was blown away by the food that was available on campus. Some of the best sushi and sandwiches I have ever had for sure! Lunch in ‘the nest’ came a ritual for me and my other exchange student friends.” – Hanna Mellsop, University of British Columbia

“One of the biggest things that made the exchange special was the relationships and friends made while there. This was helped by the fact that UBC had an ‘exchange club’, whereby you had to be an exchange student in order to join. They hosted weekly events where you could meet and interact with all the exchange students. Such as the weekly mixer at ‘Korners’ pub in UBC itself, where I met lots of great people and made many good friends.” – Cavin Toh, University of British Columbia


“When I first arrived in Montreal, I was surprised by how bilingual everyone/everything was, and the fact that essentially everyone could transition between 2+ languages so efficiently really surprised me. Orientation at the University is called “Frosh Week”, where you essentially just get involved in teams and play drinking games/meet new people. Me and my mate had an absolutely amazing experience in this first week, as this was where we met most of our friends and got more involved/confident in the culture.” –  Cameron Taylor, McGill University

“The social and extra-curricular life at McGill was astounding, with huge efforts being put into social events in both orientation (Frosh) week and continuing through the semester.” – Alistair Munro, McGill University


“Upon arriving at McMaster’s student residence, I received the warmest welcome from student representatives who were helping the first year students settle into their accommodation, yet made all the exchange students feel just as included in all the exciting orientation activities and events and their enthusiasm was contagious.” – Astrid Watson, McMaster University


On accomodation:

“On arrival at UBC all I could think about was how huge it was, literally! It was like a small town, a true campus vibe that really rings home in many North American made movies. Resident life at UBC is awesome, you’re totally independent but living with people all over the world in amazing apartments, it was here that you really make the friends for life! In all honesty I was surprised by the calibre of facilities at UBC, there were fancy buildings everywhere and sports facilities galore.” – Amelia Vinnel, University of British Columbia

“In terms of my accommodation, I again was pleasantly surprised. I stayed on campus in an apartment building called ‘Marine Drive’. I was on the 14th floor and had an amazing view of the water from my lounge. I didn’t realise that student accommodation could be so fancy! I felt like I was staying in some fancy motel! My flat mates were all so lovely and welcoming and were quick to give me advice on how to navigate myself around the massive campus city that was UBC.” – Hanna Mellsop, University of British Columbia

“The McMaster University Campus in Hamilton where I stayed was very beautiful. I was living on campus at the Mary Keyes Residence. It was the nicest residence on campus, with food access downstairs. I chose the lightest meal plan as my residence had a kitchen so I was able to make my own food. I also spent a lot of time eating off campus, spending evenings in Toronto.” – Aleisha Thakurdas, McMaster University


“Whilst on exchange, I stayed in Bates Residence, which is the second largest residence on campus, and majority of the students were first years. I found both positive and negative experiences in this. It was easy to quickly integrate into a social group of exchange students as this was something we had in common and living in the same residence made meeting up with other exchange students easy. However living in a residence building of almost exclusively first years sometimes made me and other exchange students feel a little out of place participating in residence activities. Overall, I don’t regret my decision to choose on-campus living though, as it made socialising with other exchange students simple, and I found popping into my apartment between classes convenient, especially if I had large gaps between them.” – Astrid Watson, McMaster University

“I spent the semester living at Evo, a privately owned student residence near campus, which happened to attract a large number of exchange students which then added another whole layer of options and engagement, and social group for support. As a kiwi overseas, I found everyone to be extremely welcoming even beyond what I had expected.
I would highly recommend the experience to anyone considering it!” – Alistair Munro, McGill University


On courses:

“The courses I took as part of my Bcom program were challenging and but very similar to those offered here, so the acclimatisation process was easy. The size of the lectures there are noticeably smaller so it felt like it was a more personal teaching experience, which I enjoyed.” – Adam Crompton, University of Calgary

“The courses at McGill were relatively similar to the ones in Auckland; most of the commerce courses I took were extremely laid back. I would also recommend to avoid the computer science courses while on exchange. The professors were quite disorganised, but overall were quite nice and there was some really good conversations.” – Cameron Taylor, McGill University

“The style of teaching at UBC in my classes was also a lot different. Courses were less structured in comparison to Auckland and there were less staff to students in terms of the ratio, therefore it was often difficult to get help in labs when needing it. Although, this was definitely not the case for all courses just more related to science classes. If you’re looking for a majorly diverse population of students in your class then UBC is perfect, there were 36 countries represented in one of my politics classes which was awesome in terms of gaining different perspectives on worldwide issues. UBC also encourages discussion based learning. I was able to do an internship for credit for one of my courses and also work at a UN plenary assembly event whilst earning credit for class. UBC as a whole is super flexible in terms of test dates and exams, which as an exchange student was a dream!” – Amelia Vinnel, University of British Columbia


On travel:

“I did a lot of travel while on exchange; I went to Europe (Spain, France & Switzerland) over Christmas, Cuba for spring break, and New York & Boston throughout the semester. Traveling around while studying definitely improves the experience, so I would make sure to get involved.” – Cameron Taylor, McGill University


“I did a fair bit of travelling during my exchange — which was amazing! I spent time in Toronto, New York, Calgary, Banff, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal during the semester. I also spent a few weeks in California either side of the trip as well as 10 days in Germany and Prague on my way home to New Zealand.” – Aleisha Thakurdas, McMaster University

“I would highly recommend also doing some sort of bus trip like a G adventures tour or Contiki of the east coast of Canada and the US if you are wanting to see that side because in reality travelling North America is quite tough without a car if you are looking at seeing stuff outside of cities and more importantly flights cross Canada are ridiculously expensive.” – Amelia Vinnel, University of British Columbia


Top Tips:

  • Don’t leave without eating Poutine a Canadian classic
  • Take advantage of club fairs
  • Get involved with exchange clubs
  • Take every opportunity to visit the wilderness
  • Step outside of your comfort zone
  • Embrace new adventures!

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