I’m currently on exchange in Edmonton, Canada studying Law at the University of Alberta – and it has been the best experience! In Canada, Law is a graduate degree. So, all the students in my classes have already completed a degree prior to sitting an LSAT exam, in order to be accepted into law school. The classes also seem to be more ‘practical’ here. Although there are closed book exams (eek!) and 10,000 word papers, many of the courses base assignments on visits to the courtroom, ‘field trips’ arranged by the Professors to law firms as well as role-play scenarios in class. These courses will definitely make me more prepared and well-practiced for work/life when I return to Australia. There are also soooo many clubs at the University of Alberta. At the beginning of the Semester, I joined the Outdoors Club, the Ski and Snowboard Club, the Hide and Seek Club and I also went to the Cheer Team tryouts! I was also part of the Law School Intramural Basketball team – who won the Division A Intramural Competition!! Throughout my exchange, I travelled to numerous places outside of Edmonton over long weekends, including Vancouver, Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Canmore and even a friend’s farm. I went on a trip with the Outdoors Club to Jasper (which is in the Rockie Mountains). The mountains look so surreal – it was amazing!! It had snowed the week prior to the trip, which made the view from the top of our 13km hike even more beautiful. There were also plenty of wildlife (mainly squirrels, deer and elk), which was pretty cool!
More recently, I went on a ski trip with the Ski and Snowboard Club. I had never previously been skiing before, so it was great to learn! We headed to Marmot Basin in Jasper and had a ski lesson to begin with. It didn’t take too long to pick up the basic skills and by the end of the weekend, we were taking the chair lift all the way to the top of the mountain!
The University campus is massive – almost twice the size of the University of Adelaide. The gymnasium is also huge, and even includes an iceskating rink! The University also provides classes for students at a minimal cost – so, I’ve been taking ice-skating lessons and core-strength pilates. Sports are a really big thing here in Canada, especially Ice Hockey and Football. The University has the Golden Bears and the Pandas teams who compete against other universities throughout the semester. I’ve attended many of these games throughout the semester. And, I even got to play on my housemate’s ice hockey team for a game!!
I’ve noticed a few differences between Canada and Australia. Firstly, quite a few Canadians find the Australian accents difficult to understand, especially the word ‘law’. People would ask me what I am studying at University and I respond with “Law” or that “I’m going to Law School” – and they would have no idea what I just said due to my accent. Aussies pronounce “Law” quite differently to Canadians… This link might help explain what I’m referring to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6DIwCIKH4A The other main difference is that not only do the cars drive on the other side of the road, but they also have to give way to pedestrians all the time. For example, if a car sees me waiting on the side of the road, they will actually come to a stop (even if I’m not at a designated crossing) and let me cross the road. But the main difference would have to be the weather. We were quite lucky with the weather, as it didn’t start snowing until November (which is quite bizarre for Edmonton). This week there have been severe weather warnings issued! It is currently around -18 degrees Celsius (and Canadians are still going without proper winter jackets – just wearing jeans and a jumper outside). It is going to drop as low as -27 degrees Celsius on the weekend!! There is also a ‘wind-chill factor’ which can make the weather “feel like” up to 20 degrees lower than is stated on the thermometer. I am an elite Rhythmic Gymnast, so while I have been in Canada, I’ve continued my training at a Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics club in Edmonton. I have recently been invited with my Canadian Gymnastics club to compete at an international competition in San Diego, USA in January 2015. I cannot wait for this experience! So, I definitely urge all elite athletes to not let their training stand in the way of going on an exchange – as it is great to experience training in your sport with different coaches and athletes! I have definitely learnt so many new skills and techniques that I wish to share with the gymnastics community back in South Australia. This exchange has been so much fun! Although I have been studying quite a bit to keep on top of all of my University studies, there have been so many fun events and I have met so many amazing people to make the hard work totally worth it 🙂