Personal thoughts before exchange
Why Canada for exchange?
As a BAC accounting student, I had to take into consideration 3 important criteria: The timing of partner university’s semester, module mapping and internship when selecting a Partner University/ country for exchange.
Timing of partner University’s semester: North American Universities such as those in Canada and America start their semesters relatively earlier for the winter semester with my University starting in the first week of January which was even earlier than Singapore Universities. European Universities on the other hand such as those in Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland starts their winter semester later at around February.
Module Mapping: Module mapping for Canada schools are fairly simple and straight forward. A few weeks before I flew off for exchange, I had to enroll in courses on the Partner University’s website. Following which, I was asked by NUS to declare the modules I took during the second half of my exchange semester.
Internship: Start preparing as early as possible for an internship in Singapore if you intend to do one and it is advisable to take up an internship if you have a free summer or winter holiday. If you are intending to do a winter exchange, it is advisable for students to apply for the winter internship slots before flying off for exchange or land a summer internship during the winter interview period. Applying for internships while away on exchange tends to be complicated as companies prefer to select students that are available for face to face interview.
Things to take note when coming to Canada for exchange:
- Visa: Visa is not needed if you’re coming for a semester for exchange but a Canadian ESTA will be required to enter Canada.
- Accommodation: Canadian Universities’ exchange committee are welcoming to international students and they will ensure that you have enough information to make a decision on your housing choices. At Queens, an information booklet was emailed to exchange students with information on the nitty gritty issues or questions that most incoming exchange students might have. From the information booklet, there were a couple of housing sources to choose from for accommodation. There was the residence/hall that comes at a hefty price of $3000 for 4 months but with the benefit of making a lot of friends. Also there was a housing scheme run by the University called Co Op that facilitates communal living of students in houses. Lastly there is a facebook housing group where interested parties or Queens students were allowed to post listings to offer rooms for rent. I chose the last option which was the cheapest and coincidentally I rented a room from a Canadian who sublet out his room as he was going to Singapore for exchange. Room rates for rooms in a house range from 450 to 600 CAD a month depending on the distance from the school. Make sure the housing has insulation installed and willing to have insulation removal if needed.
- Packing list: Pack as minimal as possible, outlet stores with brands such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren are aplenty in North America so you
will surely not miss out and make your Christmas and New Year shopping there. On the budget side, there are numerous supermarkets such as Walmart, Costco that sell everything that you need from electrical appliances, food to clothes at affordable prices. However, do bring items that you like to indulge in such a
s certain brands as maggie mee, indo mee and cooking condiments like chicken rice paste or curry paste.b. Another reason to pack light is because of the weight regulations on luggage faced in North America. Due to union and welfare reasons, your luggage cannot be heavier than 23kg
- Bank account:In Canada or Ontario region, CIBC bank has a student debit account and there are no charges with opening or putting money in it. The bank account is segregated into a chequing and a savings account of which it is up to your discretion if a savings account is needed although their rates are pretty decent. Specifically for Queens, there are CIBC ATMs located throughout the campus thus CIBC would be the most advisable. It is advisable to create a bank account to avoid paying translation charges on your singapore credit card. Also, a Canadian VISA card would be useful in making online or big purchases.
With the above factors and other personal reasons like the type of scenery,the safety of the country and along with the culture of the country played a part in me selecting Canada as my exchange destination.