Travel report Ottawa
- Autumn 2022
Are you interested in studying in Canada?
I studied at Telfer, University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, during the fall semester of 2022 and was very happy with my exchange!
Before leaving for Canada, you go through a course selection process which requires some quick hands-on puzzling and work to get the courses you want. Prepare well by requesting your transcripts from earlier courses from Ladok so that you can confirm that you are eligible to the courses you want. Some courses are prerequisites for others so you may need to ask the Uppsala institution to reassure the course coordinator in Ottawa that you can take them. Another tip is to schedule them according to your liking. I was off from school on Fridays and Wednesdays but had intense days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It worked for me but if you rather have your deliverables more spread out I would do so with the courses as well.
The biggest difference between University of Ottawa and Uppsala was absolutely the pace of the studies. To be honest I really felt like I had to study much more than at home since there were several deliverables each week due to the fact that you are taking 5 courses at the same time. If possible, I would have wanted to attend 4 courses instead to balance it out with more activities at campus or exploring Canada more. In my opinion, the grading process was not too harsh. However, grading depends somewhat on your participation in combination with other deliverables such as essays, quiz and midterms which pretty much all were in full class lecture halls. Thus, you need to really plan your semester and the deliverables well in advance to feel up to speed with things. You will be using Brightspace a lot (UOttawa’s Studium)! In terms of grading during finals, most of the final exams were multiple choice exams which I would argue is harsh in the sense that you have to memorize a lot of things, but easier in a sense too as you learn a lot about the “overall” subject during the semester which you can demonstrate in multiple choice. Another difference is that at UU, it is more your own responsibility to make sure to get your assignments done. At UOttawa, I felt like there was a lot of case-work in groups which can be a bit frustrating at times. In the classes that you can - try to pick classmates that have the same ambitions as you so that you can do an equal amount of work!
All in all, I felt like the tempo was much higher at UOttawa but the grading was not that different from UU. The teachers were mostly engaged but generally not as clear with deliverables and how they would be graded or executed. Thus, ensure to read the syllabus thoroughly so that you can ask questions when deadlines are approaching.
The campus at UOttawa is nice! They have a lot of study spots, I would personally recommend CRX where there is a Tim Hortons just in the building. There are several libraries on campus where you can print things, and study. I also felt like you could access many interesting academic papers and articles through the UOttawa site. There are a lot of sports and games to engage in which you absolutely should take the time to do! Even though I did not partake in any sports, I frequently went to the school gym which was well-equipped and watched the American Football team at TD Place Arena. You could also watch games at campus such as football, ice hockey, basketball etcetera.
In terms of welcoming weeks and activities at UOttawa, we were invited to several parties, a game night and a Thanksgiving dinner through the Telfer Business school association - make sure to keep an eye out on WhatsApp, Facebook and your Uottawa email. However, there were a lot of other welcoming activities for the “freshers”, the other newcomers of the University. If you live on campus, you will for sure be more involved in the campus life and its activities. Many people that were living in the Marchand Residence really appreciated that side of things. Me and two other girls from Uppsala reached out to each other before our exchange and decided to look for an apartment just outside of campus. We felt like we valued cooking our own meals (instead of the meal plan at Uni), having the privacy of our own bedroom as well as bathroom. Additionally, the prices to live at- or outside of campus were only 200 dollars difference. We found a great place to stay in Sandy Hill (super close to campus) through Airbnb which we truly enjoyed living in. You can expect it to be quite difficult to find serious landlords/rentals through Facebook and for example https://www.kijiji.ca/ which is a popular site in Canada. Therefore, we decided to book through Airbnb.
Unfortunately, due to the weak Swedish SEK, we visited Canada when the CAD was at its highest through all times. Without a doubt, we felt like it was very expensive to buy food, travel and rent the apartment (1400 CAD per month) we were living in. Tip: If you need face creams/wash etcetera, it is very expensive to buy in drug stores so bring it with you if you can. However, in terms of leisure, activities and nights out it was not more expensive than back home so we did not feel like we were being held back by that. All of us three did apply for an extended loan through CSN and felt like we could both live, do some activities and pay rent with that. However, if you want to travel more in Canada you need to start saving up early! The flight tickets to Ottawa are expensive if you travel with 2 x 20 kilo bags..
In sum, I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to travel with two fellow Uppsala students to Ottawa, Canada who I now can call dear friends. We got acquainted with other exchange students from other parts of the world, Swedish students from other universities (foremost Lund) and some Canadians. We got the chance to study at a very nice university at Ottawa that offered us a great study abroad experience and we also took the chance to travel to Toronto, Montreál and Niagara Falls. If you go to Ottawa, make sure to at least travel to those places, explore Ottawa and hike in Gatineau Park. If I could do it again, I would have saved up even more money to be able to go to Banff National Park in Alberta to see more of Canada’s beautiful nature as well as Vancouver. I hope this travel report will give you some insights in how your future exchange could look like!
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