Ielena in Vancouver

Field of study in Wageningen: Food Technology (BFT)
Study period exchange: 04/09/2023 – 22/12/2023
Country (exchange): Canada
City (exchange): Vancouver
University (exchange): University of British Columbia
Faculty (exchange): Land and Food Systems

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

I had heard from many friends who had already completed exchange that it was one of the best university experiences they had. Many also mentioned that the best part would be the new people they have met and the possibility of visiting and travelling the area they lived in. Wageningen is a relatively small city and this would provide an opportunity for a different lifestyle and hopefully more opportunities.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

One of the key factors when picking my university was the country. I have already lived in many countries within Europe so my aim was to leave Europe and take the opportunity to studying a university I would not be able to afford as a European citizen. I did not want to overcomplicate myself and an already complicated and intimidating process by picking a non-English speaking country which left me with Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia. I had already heard of UBC and it’s very good reputation from many friends and when taking into consideration the possibility of travelling I knew that New Zealand and Canada had the most intriguing nature options. The final decision was based on a higher chance of getting into Canada due to the larger amounts of places available for the exchange compared to New Zealand.

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

There clearly isn’t really another option to getting to Canada other than flying. Buying the return ticket at the same time does often make the flight a lot cheaper. When you get there you will have to travel by bus and train a lot so buy a compass card (approximately $5) at the airport and you can then travel for free using that card once the academic year starts.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses? What is it like to study there?

I found that the course load is a lot higher then Wageningen because there are a lot of reading for my courses but the work itself is not necessarily as difficult, so it balances out. If I worked very hard during the week till 9pm most days, weekends were fully free to go on trips. Please consider that I am a slow worker so it may take other people less time to do the work.

What is the culture of the university?

The Professors are very approachable and hold multiple sessions weekly for general questions about the course, their profession or if you need some mental support. They are very understanding to issues student are experiencing and are aware of the large workload so will often accept a deadline extension if a good reason is given. However, they do expect all work to be given in and if you cannot make a deadline, you should let them know in advance rather than after.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

They have many sports facilities and clubs available to participate in (more info on their website), multiple student health centres and free sessions with therapists that can be booked on the day of if needed. You also get a student travel past which is included in the starting fee that provides free transport. There is a lot of public transport available, one of the main buses from campus leaves every 2-3 minutes.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

There are student housing although it is extremely difficult to get in. You will sign up and there will be a random draw for who gets student housing and then the housing you get is based on ranking. Exchange students are generally assigned to Fairview crescent (where I lived) or Walter Gage. There aren’t any student housing that provide single housing, you will share with other people but only ranging to 3-5 other housemates. If you do not get selected for this then you usually have to find housing on your own although I don’t know much about this.

What is the culture of the country like?

UBC has a very large range of cultures with 40% of students coming from an Asian background meaning there is a large number of options of food available from practically everywhere in the world. They are generally very kind people and UBC does take large care in promoting proper recycling practices.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Public transport for all students is free during your period of study with a compass card and you can upload your travel package online. Transport is easily accessible and buses and trains come very often. Ubers are easily available and if split between four is reasonably affordable to take back after a night out (~$7 CAD each).

6. Expenses

Can you give an indication of your expenses for/during your exchange?

Ticket there: 1100 euros
Visa if applicable: $7 CAD
Vaccinations if applicable: N/A
Insurances (extra, if applicable): $380 CAD (approximation)
Housing costs per month & type of housing/accommodation: $4,800CAD for the term (4 months and an approximation). I live in a house/student accommodation with three others.
Groceries: slightly higher
Public transport: lower (its free)
Restaurant/going out for dinner: equal.
Daytrips/sight-seeing: often do this for free as its nature

7. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

Wreck beach is on campus, you just have to go down some stairs to get there. It’s really beautiful and you get amazing sunsets there. Whistler is a great place to ski, super expensive though. Vancouver Island is definitely a place you should go, it’s got really nice hikes, and the city is very nice. There are so many hikes that you can go on. Try to do them during the warmer months as its too cold with the snow to do it. Ice hockey games are super entertaining to watch and you do not need to buy a season ticket to be able to watch a great game.

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

You can attend the homecoming football (American football) and ice hockey games. The homecoming ones are $5 but all other sports games that take place in UBC are free for students. The homecoming football game may not be the most fun if you don’t understand the rules but it’s definitely an experience that worth having if you’re hear.

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

Some really good food places include Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba and kinton ramen on campus. There are also some good food option in the nest such as the Indian curries in The Delly and Grand Noodle Emporium.

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

There weren’t really many challenges. The only thing I would say is that it was my first time living with other students so I was worried the place wouldn’t be clean and the tasks wouldn’t be done equally but we just discussed with my roommates when we first moved in a made a timetable for the chores.

What was your best memory abroad?

There are genuinely so many amazing parts to this exchange, but I would have to say the amazing people and friends that you meet from all over the world and all the activities we did together. There are so many things to experience in Vancouver, you have the beach and the huge forest on campus, 30 minutes bus from downtown and an hour drive from whistler and the mountains.

8. Contact Details

Would you like to ask Ielena more questions about her exchange?
Send her a mail: