Olivia Flynn reflects on her experience abroad at Western University, Canada, as part of her Bachelor of Sport Management at Victoria University.
Being an exchange student was an experience I had wanted to explore since high school. When I first started at VU, the option of doing an exchange was highly promoted, which made me very excited. I felt as if Victoria University had a great deal of knowledge in the area, which made me want to explore all the options as soon as possible.
Canada was not my first preference – it was originally the United States. However, looking into it a bit deeper, Western University in Canada seemed to be the best fit with my course’s subjects. The fact VU has such a strong partnership with Western was also a big factor in my decision to choose Canada.
Olivia Flynn - Toronto Island
Life at Western University
The facilities at Western University were incredible. There were a vast number of beautiful buildings – not just for classes but for accommodation, meals, sport and leisure – I was in awe.
Classes were very engaging at Western and participation marks were a thing. As a result, every student was an active participant. The lecture style was very similar to VU, but classes were not recorded so attendance was a must for thorough notes. Their version of the VU Portal and VU Collaborate was a super-efficient resource for students, which allowed for the quick and easy submission of assessments and access to results.
I opted to live on campus. Staying on campus is more expensive than living off-campus while on exchange. My accommodation fees included a meal plan, which covered all of my meals while living at Western. Nearly every residence at Western has a dining hall where you have meals to cater for all tastes.
Social life in Canada, especially at Western, is very important. The best way to meet new people is to start with those you are living with. Whether they are in your room, house, or residence building, they can provide you with lifelong friendships, as was the case for me.
Another great way to make friends is by joining a university club, team, or by going to events. I joined the tennis club on campus and was able to make a lot of new friends there, which I was very glad about. Western organises events each week for students and it is great how many people actually go to them. It makes the atmosphere so much better and it’s easier to make friends.
Mid hike in Algonquin National Park
Meeting new friends from around the world was definitely a highlight for me. I learned so many new things about countries I didn't even think I wanted to visit. It changed my perspective.
Travelling during my time abroad was also one of the best parts of the whole experience. I was very lucky to plan my trip and to see so many amazing places. I saw the Canadian Rockies in summer, Algonquin National Park in fall, New York during Christmas and New Year, and many, many others!
Attending a different university and seeing how it runs, especially in another country, was a special experience for me too.
Olivia Flynn at Emerald Lake
Words of wisdom
Just do it. You won't get a better chance than while at university. It is the perfect way to study and travel while you are still young, to learn so many things and to mature as an individual.
Save up for your trip so you can enjoy yourself and not worry about missing things you would have liked to do abroad. The experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I highly recommend it, even if you have never considered going abroad in your life. Start researching and exploring your options.