Field of study in Wageningen: Management, Economics and Consumer studies
Study period exchange: 01/01/2018 until 26/04/2018
Country (exchange): Canada
City (exchange): Vancouver
University (exchange): University of British Columbia
Faculty (exchange): Arts (Psychology; Geography); Land and Food Systems; Science (Resources, Management, and Environmental Studies)
2. Motivation for exchange
What is the reason you chose for this country/university?
The University of British Columbia is known for being active in sustainability, close relations between teachers and students, and surrounded by the most beautiful oceans, mountains, and city in the world. For me, Canada felt like a safe choice. It’s a great place where I could really get to know the country for lack of a language barrier, and a way to explore nature, different perspectives on sustainability, and experiencing a similar, but in its own way, very different culture from the Netherlands.
3. Accessibility to reach destination
Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?
The best way to reach Siena is to fly to Pisa and then take a train. Pisa sometimes has very cheap tickets, especially in the lower seasons.
4. University and studying
Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?
Academic year and registration
The year is divided into three parts, where most students only follow courses in term 1 (Sept-Dec) and 2 (Jan-Apr). Students follow 4 or 5 courses in one term (24-30 ECTS). The first 13 weeks are for lectures, then there’s one week of self-study, and two weeks of exams. The teachers are very nice and extremely approachable. In the first two weeks, most students follow many courses to find out which ones they like. Courses can be dropped until two weeks after the start of term, so then you know for sure which courses you’ll attend. There are a lot of waiting lists, but especially as an exchange student, you can ask the teacher what the chances are of getting in, and most of the time they’ll help you.
Level and teaching style
Perhaps it’s because I’m in my Masters and I followed some 4th year courses, but the system tended to be more like our high school in terms of freedom. There is a lot of guidance from teachers, you get homework, and it’s very clear what to do. Students expect a lot of help from their professors, so you don’t have to figure out most of the things on your own. The relations between students and professors are very relaxed, and students are encouraged to ask questions in class and address their professors informally.
Workload and study forms
The workload differs per faculty, for mine the workload was fine for four courses, I think five would have been doable as well. Books can be bought at the university shop, but I didn’t need any. There is quite a lot of group work, which can be arranged as you wish.
What does the university offer the student additionally?
Answer: many facilities. Almost everything is on campus: different very cheap gyms, free pool, climbing wall, comedy club, supermarkets, laundry services at the student housing, many restaurants, an Irish pub, some more pubs, bus stations, soccer fields, a beach, museums etc.
What are the possibilities for housing?
Housing is possible on campus. Register in time, exchange students have a fair chance of getting a room there. You have to pay a $900 deposit and the rest (for me that was another $2365) in the week of term. If you don’t want to live on campus, you can live in Kitsilano, which is also close by and really nice. West End, or Downtown (Yaletown, Chinatown, Gastown) are the nicest, but probably really expensive. You want to avoid East Vancouver, as it’s really far away from campus and not the safest neighbourhood around. Even there it’s never really dangerous though, just more homeless or very drunk people.
Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?
Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?
Buy a compass card and load your ‘free’ student travel product on there every 16th of the month.
What is the culture of the country like?
American in some ways, but ultimately very Canadian. People are very polite and friendly, in a very warm way. The country is very big, so there’s a difference between the East and West part of the country (French vs. English speaking). People are very active, wear sports clothes all the time, go out for dinner a lot (very early in the evening), like hiking, watch sports, go for drinks etc. Quite similar to the Netherlands, but in a way, much less selfish and aggressive.
What are must-sees in the area?
Rent a car and go on a road trip every weekend. There’s a lot of really nice places nearby, for hikes etc., but also farther away is definitely worth the trip. The ESC organises some trips, e.g. a surfing trip to Tofino (Vancouver Island) and a weekend to the Rocky Mountains.