The definitive guide for any Warwick student studying abroad in Canada
One of the best decisions I ever made tbh
With the UK going into shambles and the cost of living crisis raging all around, you’re probably looking for an escape. Trust me, I’ve been there – you’re considering a study abroad. Well, I’m the expert – last year, I decided to take an integrated study abroad at Vancouver UBC and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my academic journey. However, I am fully aware that Canada is not even in the European continent, and some students, far away from home, already struggle to live in Coventry. But if you’re in the same boat, this short guide is for you.
And rest assured, even though this article is based off of my own personal experience in Canada, there’ll still be some similarities to year abroads elsewhere – like procrastinating on getting your study permit sorted, culture shocks and being teased for your “Bri’ish” accent etc.
Finance, finance, finance
Year abroads can be very expensive – Canada especially so. Because of this, I’d recommend going in with lots of savings in your account and extreme budgeting. A week’s worth of groceries from the cheapest shop (No Frills) was around $60 for me, and this is because Canada loves to add tax to everything you buy. There’s also a massive tipping culture in North America in general, so be conscious about that when deciding to eat out. However, what does amuse me is how they call a dollar a “Looney” and two dollars a “Tooney”, so at least their currency can make you laugh as it is inevitably drained from your pocket. But if you can sign up for grants/bursaries or get a part-time job over the summer it would be in the very best of your interests. How else are you going to afford that Tim Hortons chicken wrap and vanilla latte every day?
An American coming-of-age movie for a social life
Just like the movies, frats and sororities actually exist – and to some extent, the stereotypes are true. The frats have the houses, whilst the sororities have cute apartments with Greek letters on display. Even though UBC isn’t the biggest party university, Canadians drink a lot less than Brits anyway (shocker). So, if you enjoy the drinking aspect of having a social life, then frat parties are for you. And even if you want to go clubbing because, for some reason you miss the Smack/Pop vibes, you can still find some in every city. Frat houses are just a bit more affordable and more familiar.
But in general, a lot of associations (UK version of societies) don’t really do any hardcore drinking socials. Honestly, this was a nice change – people seemed to actually remember your name the next day. And because you have a British accent, they’re always willing to be friends with you – only if you’re prepared to be mocked for how you sound 24/7.
Actually doing your degree
What a bummer. It’s easy to forget you have to actually study and not just live your best life. In fact, the North American GPA system is very holistic compared to the UK honours system. In most of the courses I took, I was marked for how much I participated in class – with group presentations worth 25%, and a couple of essays and exams worth smaller percentages. This is a massive difference from the UK system where a singular essay can make or break your final grade, which is nice for a change. This is because there are so many ways you can boost your mark, as well as other different ways where you can *enjoy* your degree. Also, depending on your Warwick department, you can pick a few subjects outside of your degree subject for fun – giving you a nice break from your own degree that you, regretfully, willingly chose.
Lastly, I also observed how office hours were a lot more carefree in Canada. For example, I could be casually talking about my essay with a professor or a tutor assistant for as long as wanted outside of contact hours. And even though this is dependent on each course and professor, it’s still a lot easier for students to ask for help in Canada compared to the UK. So, why not give it a go? After all, the world is your oyster. The geese will always be waiting for you back on campus, so embark on every opportunity while you’re still young and relaxed – that’s what I said anyway.
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