Travelling on Erasmus

Hello. For those who have been accepted onto the Erasmus program for next year, well done! I’m going to try and sum up what to expect and the benefits of Erasmus. Firstly, you basically get paid to go which is a bonus. My biggest piece of advice is to use this to travel while you’re on exchange. So for on my year abroad I’ve been to Basel, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Verona, Padua, and Venice. I’m also going to Prague next week. Although that Erasmus grant ran out a while ago, it doesn’t feel as bad travelling with “free” money.


Wherever you go, I would recommend travelling to places that are located close to your new home, that way you will get the true culture of your area. This is something I regret not doing more of, so I’m going to try and make up for it in my remaining time here. Strasbourg is heavily influenced by German culture because of it being on the border and also because it was once part of Germany. Basel is located close by and there you get a unique mix of cultures combining Switzerland, Germany and France. I’ve tended to travel a bit further away, to the likes of Rome, Paris and soon Prague. Paris is the obvious choice for anyone in France and even if it does seem overdone, it’s an amazing city and a must if you study here. Rome, although it’s a lot further away, is another city I’d recommend. You’re likely to get the weather and guaranteed to soak in the culture and history of the Italian capital. ESN (Erasmus Student Network) should be present in your new uni and they tend to organise lots of local events and trips further afield. They also give you a discounts, for example on Ryanair flights with their card, so give them a look up.


The other big benefit of Erasmus is that you are likely to know someone else on the program in a city you would like to travel to. Last week I visited my friend in Padua, a city in Northern Italy. The city’s big benefit is that it’s located near Verona and Venice, meaning I got to travel to these places too. Basically, make the most of traveling as it’s very convenient and cheaper than being back home.

Start having a look now!



Don’t say you haven’t been warned

Wherever you go and wherever you’re from there are going to be things about the new place that just feel awkward or downright wrong. If you’re moving to France from the UK you’re going to have to be prepared to some of these culture shocks so that you may not panic and run away when someone pulls you in for a kiss to greet you. Thankfully the two cultures are similar enough that no big adjustment is required, but here’s a couple of things to warm you up for what’s coming!

I’m sure I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but it is something so pervasive and so deeply frustrating that one can never complain enough. I miss dearly the fast and effective way that any kind of paperwork or procedure was carried out in Scotland. Here, prepare for weeks of struggling and arguing with the university, the bank, the CAF, the post office to get the simplest thing done. Never back down though. Do not let the system win and keep asking and arguing until you get what you need! The silver lining  of this is that the French love to complain about it (among many other things) so it’s a sure way to strike up a conversation with anyone.

La bise
Coming from Italy this wasn’t as much as a shock for me as it is for Anglo-Saxons. In case you weren’t aware, it is custom for the French to greet and depart by kissing each other’s cheeks. The number of kisses varies from 1 to 4 depending on the region but I’ve found that in Paris the standard is 2, one per cheek. And if you think this is awkward know that it is not universally accepted which side you should kiss first, leading to undesirable lip-to-lip closeness with semi-strangers. If you’re someone who’s not comfortable with so much contact don’t worry, let them know by going for a handshake instead and they’ll get it!

Opening Times
I believe this is the most shocking for Americans, accustomed to stores being open 24/7. In Glasgow we have it pretty good too, with many supermarkets open until 11pm weekend included. Well, in Paris that’s quite different. Many close as early as 8pm, and on if you forgot to shop preventively, you’re going to have to starve on Sundays where there are about 2 supermarkets open in the entire city. Watch out for office times too, they are very random and often have different schedules on different days. At my university for example, the International Office is open only about two hours per day which is just amazing when you also have classes in those time slots (: .

Uni Attire
Paris didn’t get its reputation as fashion capital for nothing. When your university is located next to Versace and Ralph Lauren shops it takes a brave soul to pull off sweatpants and Uggs. French students are always dressed impeccably, they’re well put together, accessorised and also somehow never look tired. It’s not rare to see students dressed in suits or business attire either. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on your usual style, but it’s definitely something I’ve had to adjust to!

As always, below are my contact infos if you have any question or just wanna chat about going abroad!
Facebook: Benedetta Annicchiarico
Email: OR
Instagram: benedettaa19

Erasmus Myths: To believe or not to believe, that is the question.

Hello all!

Firstly, apologies for the ridiculous amount of time it has taken me to get around to writing another blog. I would make an excuse, but this year is flashing by so fast that I’m yet to understand where all of my time has gone. In keeping with my previous blogs, I’ll try to keep this as informative as possible since I can bore my family and friends with the details of my 20 hours of lectures a week (cue nobody answering my facetime calls).

The main aim of this blog is to shine a light on the myths of the Erasmus experience that I’ve either discovered to be delightfully true or painfully misleading. Some serious truth tea is about to be served:

“They won’t fail us, we’re Erasmus” … There’s lots of advantages of being an Erasmus student: cheaper drinks at bars, organised trips offered every weekend, discounted flights, but automatically passing exams is not on the list. Unfortunately, at Universities where there are so many Erasmus students, they don’t give you special treatment (aww). A lot of us found that out the hard way in semester 1 – SHOCK they are more than willing to fail us… and they did. So, this is your heads up to remind you, you still need to pass your exams on the side of travelling, tapas and drinking vino tinto.

“It’s always sunny” … I would love to say this is true, but I’ve spent the last 2 weeks wondering whether I’m in Spain or Scotland. It turns out it rains here too! Although I do reckon that’s probably got something to do with the remnants of the Beast from the East. Either way, just be prepared and bring/buy an umbrella in the off chance that it does pour it down for a few weeks.

“It’s just a holiday” … To be honest this is almost true in the way that I have the ‘holiday feeling’ most days when I wake up and remember I’m actually living in a different country. However, that does come crashing down when I realise I have to shake myself out of that dream and get out of my bed and to classes. What makes this myth more on the true side is that when you come out of class at the end of the day, there’s a tapas bar with a €2.20 drink waiting on you, or a walk around the park with palm trees, or to a view point to see the sun-set. It’s not as carefree as being on holiday, but it sure is better than your average working day. 😉

“You get an Erasmus grant? You’ll basically be making money” … HA HA HA, oh don’t we all wish this is true. The Erasmus grant is amazing and helps us all out so much, but don’t think that it’s a never-ending money tree. Also, although rent is considerably cheaper in Spain (wooo!), don’t let that fool you into a false sense of security.  I would suggest putting the grant in a separate account and transferring a specific amount each month to your current account, otherwise you may find yourself in trouble and to be honest you don’t need the stress.

Lastly, some top tips for mental preparation before you arrive. Overthinking is your worst enemy, yes, you’ll find yourself in difficult situations, but what’s the point in worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet? Try not to imagine your perfect year abroad either, nothing in life is perfect and it would be boring if it was. I would say, get excited, look forward to it, plan what you can and what you need to, but once you’re on that plane just go with the flow. Deviating from the plan is not always a bad thing. I never thought I’d have travelled to have the places I have this year and it’s all been thanks to changing plans (and the Ryanair Black Friday Sales) and seeing where that takes me… which strangely enough has been some random but beautiful places like Morocco, Denmark & Belgium, more of which I’ll write about next time.

If anyone has anything specific they’d like me to write about or any questions, then give me a message or an e-mail. I’m always happy to help. 🙂

All the best & hasta luego,

Iona xx

What is it like studying in France?

I’ve been in Strasbourg since September and thought I would try and summarise what it’s like studying here in France. It’s quite a bit different to back at Glasgow, there are much more courses – across the year I will have done 16 – however they are obviously a lot smaller, some are taught within a week by a visiting professor. Class times can vary quite a bit, from 8-12am to 6-8pm, and the class doesn’t always take place at the same time every week. So classes can be a bit longer than back home, most lectures run for 3 hours but are almost all more tutorial based rather than in a large lecture theatres. The actual work is easier compared to back home, and is more focused on group work rather than submissions. The semester is about 11-12 weeks with a one week holiday midway through, and only 1 or 2 weeks for exams at the end, so the year is over a lot earlier than in Glasgow: I finish this year on Friday 13th April. There are classes solely for international students and also ones that have a mix of French students. Depending on your degree, you can choose all your classes to be taught in English or French and have the possibility to take a language course to improve your French. If you come here for business related studies, there are a wide range of courses to choose from, some of which more interesting than others…


Petite France

In terms of accommodation, there’s the option of a private flat or applying to the university halls which are run by an organisation called Crous. They are basically a government organisation that have student accommodation all over France, so no matter where you go there should be an option for you. Their housing is a lot cheaper than private accommodation, as little as €150 a month compared to about €400 for a private flat, but are of course less homely. There’s about 30 people on each floor with one kitchen, however many of the students here tend to eat at the university canteen, so there’s surprisingly never a problem of being able to cook when you want. The rooms are similar to back in Glasgow, with the addition of a fridge in your room which is handy. In my accommodation there’s the basic things like washing facilities, and also a gym and common room, however these facilities just depend on what housing you’re in. There’s also choices available for housing with private bathrooms, and studio flats.  All the information about the accommodation can be found on the Crous website –

My halls are on the same street as the business school so it’s a minute walk away. When applying for accommodation it’s first come first serve so make sure you’re quick when the application opens up. Private flats are a lot nicer but it can sometimes be difficult to set them up in the first place as you need a guarantor and they prefer those with French ones. It can be done however if you don’t mind a bit more paperwork. Strasbourg is a fairly small city and is easy to get about in via bike, bus, tram or on foot so location is less of an issue. This information is obviously based on Strasbourg so the rest of France will be largely different apart from Crous.

Feel free to ask anymore questions! Graeme –

*Very* early preparations

Yes, it’s been a tragically long time since I last wrote anything on this blog and for that I apologise. The workload for Second Semester was pleasantly light until now, so my need to procrastinate was drastically reduced.

I know that UofG students have now received their allocations from Glasgow to go abroad – and most people are now just waiting for that confirmation letter to book flights and buy a travel razor.

My acceptance letter took a couple of months to come from Queen’s, which did stress me out at the time, so I am going to unhelpfully forget it bothered me and chime in with the hundreds of other people reassuring offer holders to “sit tight”. I know it’s not the solution you want to hear, but emailing Queen’s five times and Glasgow probably double that doesn’t make it happen any quicker, sadly. I tried.

When I was accepted to Queen’s this time last year (eek!), I Googled Kingston and have to admit I found very little. I don’t know what I was looking for, I just wanted to find a sense of life distilled in a Buzzfeed article somewhere.

I am afraid, few articles have ever managed to do that. Travel journalists are paid good money for a similar service and I am yet to read a travel blog or article which beats or even comes close to the real thing – although I’m happy to be wrong about that one.

With the lack of basic information on life in Kingston, I am hoping to run off a few blog posts in the last couple of weeks in semester on subjects such as eating in Kingston, going out at Queen’s, useful spots on campus and Queen’s traditions to watch out for.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch using the usual channels at the bottom of this article. Wherever you’re going next year, there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time and the offer letter is probably being prepared for you now. Hold tight on accommodation, flights and the rest until you have it. And if you can, from personal experience, try to sublet a room instead of taking a place in halls. and Isaac Eoin Callan on Facebook.



In this post I thought i would tell and show a little of a different country-Cuba.  Cuba is one of the closest and cheapest places to go from Mexico, so i took the opportunity to visit this fascinating country in the Christmas holidays.


If you are used to the cheap flights of Ryanair and EasyJet in Europe, the prices of Latin American flights may all seem a little expensive. This is partly due to the distance between countries being further, and partly due to the fact that the same low-cost type airlines simply do not exist in many of these countries. That being said, I was able to find a return ticket from Cancun to La Havana, Cuba for around £120. Many people had told me to travel to Cuba whilst I have the opportunity, as in around 5 years from now perhaps the country will have changed and devoloped a lot. an


Cuba has two currencies, the Pesos Cubanos (CUP´s) and the Pesos Cubanos Convertibles (CUC´s).  Tourists are technically only meant to use CUC´s, however it is very simple to simply go into a money exchange office, and change some of your CUC´s for CUP´s. This is recommended to do as in many cases, if the option is there to use either, you will be charged more to pay with CUC´s. I would suggest having some of both, as in some areas that are popular with tourists, often prices are not offered in CUP. Currently one CUC = £0.72.

Places to visit

The areas I visited during my trip were La Habana, Cienfugos, Viñales and Trinidad. La Habana is one of the most well known parts, and one you are sure to visit as you will fly in to the airport there. It is the image of Cuba that you will have seen on the tv or have in your mind, a city full of coloured buildings and cadillacs. It is very populated, there is always people milling around and eager to get on with their daily life. For me, whilst it is an interesting place to see and definitely worth including in your visit to Cuba, it was a fast paced, busy area which is only nice to be in for a couple of days.

La habana

From Havana we went to Viñales, and we decided to go by bus, as it seemed to be the cheapest option. After some confusion of what bus to take to take us to the bus ´station´ of La Habana, we ended up taking a taxi as it seemed near to impossible to find the correct bus, and the 5 of us are were getting tired of squeezing onto packed buses with our big rucksacks. The next step is a highlight of how things can be in Cuba- the bus ´station´ was in fact a few old tracks sitting in a field off the motorway.  The truck then took us part of the way, however terminated in a smaller town (which we had not been aware of). Luckily, a local man was travelling to Viñales too, and had clearly spotted that we were foreign and lost. He helped us find the correct little bus, which then took us to the small, cosy town of Viñales. This place is filled with casa particulares, nice restaurants and places to dance, or watch, the famous salsa cubana.  Whilst here we went on horse riding trip which allowed us also to sample the cuban cigars and coffee. If you are to visit Viñales I would really to do one of these tours, as you are able to see some beautiful landscape, try some Cuban classics and meet some of the locals too.

truck  Our bus in the bus station of Havana

Cienfuegos is a small town next to a beautiful lake, and is really nice to walk around and appreciate the beauty of Cuban buildings and surroundings. Also here I have to mention is where i found some amazing sandals, which cost about £10 and have all i have been walking around in ever since! So if you go here, keep an eye out for the market stalls and cheap finds.  Finally, we arrive to Trinidad, my favorite place in Cuba. Trinidad is a small city and is really beautiful. The colours are fantastic and the place appears so vivid and full of life, without the same hurried pace of Havana. We were originally only planning to stay in Trinidad a few days but ended up spending the whole of our last week there. The best part, for me, was that beautiful beaches were only a 10 min taxi ride away, or a 45 minute cycle. Many of the casa particulares offer you bikes to hire on daily basis, and I would definitely recommend going to the beach by bike at least one day, it is a peaceful and relatively easy cycle. The owner of where we stayed told us of a beach that not many people know about , Playa Ancon,  which was really memorizing and had very few people there. There is a guy who sells food and beer or fresh coconuts, and to hire an umbrella you only need to pay 1 CUC for the whole day.


I would say Cuba is more expensive than Mexico, but still very much possible to do on a cheap budget. For the casa particulares, most of the time I was sharing a room with 2 other girls, and a room could vary from 15-25 CUC per night, including breakfast sometimes. I would say to go any higher than that is not necessary.  Taxi´s depend on the area, but be expected to barter to try and lower the price.

It was so interesting to visit this country & I would definitely recommend it! However, it did make me miss some of the amazing aspects of Mexico, so look out for the next post where I will be explaining some of these, and each and every one of you should come to the amazing México!

Surviving the winter in Scandinavia

Hi all,

As it is approaching the end of February and spring is just around the corner, I thought I would do a post on surviving the winter blues in Copenhagen.

Living in Glasgow for two years I was used to the ‘Glasgow Grey’ skies and constant downpours of rain, so initially I thought the weather in Copenhagen would be the same. However, I was not prepared for the endless days without seeing sun. I am writing this post in February and the hours of sun are a lot longer and there have been some beautiful sunny winter days but as soon as it hit November the skies were permanently grey and overcast and made me feel like I was trapped in this grey bubble of sadness for days on end (very depressing I know). In the height of winter, the sun sets at around 4:30pm and by 5pm it is pitch black, which unfortunately for a non-early bird like me does not give me very many hours of natural light. Alas it is not all doom and gloom and here are some tips to get some sunshine back into your life:

  • Invest in vitamin D tablets, I wasn’t exaggerating when I say you don’t see the sun and these are your source of sunshine and happiness.
  • Hygge hygge hygge, ok I know I have mentioned it a lot previously in my posts but I love it so much! Sitting in my room with candles on, a blanket wrapped around me and a cup of tea is my definition of cosiness and relaxation and really helps with the winter blues. In addition to this I would say plan to socialise in the evenings, in November I went out for some sushi with some friends after a two hour lecture. Despite it being dark and rainy we had the best time and it really made my week, alternatively I probably would have just gone home and complained about the weather!
  • Embrace Christmas, Christmas in Copenhagen is amazing! There are different markets all spread throughout the city and everywhere you look there seems to be fairy lights. Tivoli is magical at Christmas (Yes I did visit three times) and you must try Glogg which is a nicer version of mulled wine and Æbleskiver, basically Danish pancake balls.
  • Finally, keep active, the occasional day of Netflix in bed is fine but it is so easy to make it a habit and hibernate in your room for days. Just walking to the library or going on a quick 15 minute cycle allows you to get some fresh air.

The fact that exam period is the end of December and I had huge essays to write, really did not help my mood in these months but hopefully if you are coming to study in Denmark or any other Scandinavian countries these tips will hopefully make your winter a little brighter.

As always please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Katie x


Classes in México

In this post I thought I would explain in greater detail the class system in Tec de Monterrey. Even for those who cannot speak a word of Spanish, it’s likely that the name ‘Tecnologico de Monterrey’ makes you think of something to do with tecnology. The tec has a great department for the sciences and engineering, and you will find that many people specilise in these type of degrees. However, if you are like me and even the word maths makes your head hurt, do not worry! The tec also has great business, humanities, marketing etc departments.

Choosing your classes

For my first semester, i was sent an email inviting me to ‘provisionally choose’ my classes about 1/2 months before I arrived. This made me think that once I had arrived I would be able to review my choices properly choose my classes. However this was not true! We were given our schedules in the orientation days, and then had a small window of tine to change/drop classes, but this seemed quite a over complicated and time consuming task, so what I suggest is that you properly take the time to choose classes you are sure you want to take.

There are classes avaliable in English and Spanish,with slightly more avaliable in Spanish but still a good selection in English. For me, as a student of Spanish all my classes are in that language, and if you want to take class in Spanishyou have to complete a quick online test to prove you are able, and also to determine what level you are.

Spanish classes

The Tec offers credited classes of Spanish, which range from Basic 1 to Advanced 2. You have it 4 times a week, with each class lasting 1.5 hours. I really recommend to take one of these if you can, even if your degree is not Spanish, as whilst it is possible to come to Mexico and study without knowing Spanish, I think it is always good to learn some of the local language. Another I would recommend to all is Cultura de Mexico, or Mexican culture. This class runs in both Spanish and English and it a great way of getting to know more about the customs of this country and its people. Included in the class is trips to a local market and trips to nearby Mexico City.. Now, and this is more specifically for those studying Spanish, the other classes I have taken this semester and those I took last semester are:

Fonetica yFonologia – This class focuses on the correct pronunciation in Spanish.

Distrezas Comunicativas II Y III – This is a class focused on improving conversational skills in Spanish, and one I really recommend.

Fundamentos de la escritura- A back to basics course in writing correctly in Spanish

Literatura, cine y cultura – Analysing films from all around the world

Literatura y poder en Latinoamerica- Analysing novels from Latin american authors, which focus on issues or concepts important in these countries

Times and punctuality

Classes can begin and finish earlier and later than in Glasgow. The earliest to have a class a class is at 7am which, thank goodness, I have managed to avoid. The latest can finish at 10pm, of which I have one class this semester – a strange feeling to be going to class when i usually would be eating but one I will just need to get used too. Class either lasts 1.5 hours or 3 hours. As I think i have already mentioned in a previous post, punctuality to classes is a serious thing here. Technically,  there is a 5 minute window in which you can arrive to classes. For example if you’re class begins at 10, you have from 10-10.05 to arrive, and if you arrive after you would receive an absence.  However, how strict this is followed depends on the teacher. From my experience, the teachers who teach the international classes, tend to be more lenient, but I do have one teacher this semester who will give you an absence if you arrive even 1 min late!


This is something to watch out for, as here every class a register is taken, and if you have over a certain amount of absences, you will fail the class. It is an interesting, and different way to Glasgow´s system, and I have to say i prefer the system back home. For me, you should be going to a class because you want to, not because you ´have to´ or else you fail. The way it works right now is you are entitled to 3 weeks of absense from a class, this is to say if you have a class once a week lasting 3 hours, you are entitled to miss it 3 times.

Level of difficulty/work

Of course this aspect varies in each class. I would say the ´international´ classes, as to be expected, give less home work, as they are aware that everyone is here to experience Mexico and not just study. Other classes there is more work, such as my literature class there is a book assigned for us to read every week etc. However this I do not find a huge amount of work, it only takes longer as the books are all in Spanish. Perhaps there is less amount of work to do for the end of the semester, or the ´finales´, as here we have partial exams too, and a lot of your overall grade weighting is determined throughout the semester.

Thanks for reading, I really hope it has been useful to anyone interested, or coming to the Tec! As always any questions just send me an email or on Facebook as Kirsten Phillip.

Once  again apologies for the loooong delay between posts but I will have 2 more up in the following days with more of what Mexico has to offer! Including pics

Hasta luego

Comparing Course Assessment

Although I can only answer questions about the courses and subjects I am taking at UBC, a lot of it will apply across domains. I am studying Philosophy and Psychology, and as the UBC system is quite different from assessment at Glasgow, I thought it was worth putting a few things together to give you an idea of how your curriculum here might look like.

Overall, you will have a lot more assignments at UBC, I usually have at least 1 paper or 1 exam due each week, so you really need to stay on top of things right from the start
It is definitely manageable but depending on how much time you usually spend on assignments, it will cost a lot of time.
Many exchange students from other universities are here more as a ‘uni gap year’ and only have to pass courses without them counting back home; but as our courses count and if you want to get good grades, you will definitely need some self-discipline to make it through the semester here!

So here a list of how much assessment there is in each of my courses/subjects (from both semesters):


Of course very essay-based but quite different from course to course:

  • Metaphysics: 1 essay, 2 exams
  • Environmental Ethics: 2 essays, 2 exams
  • Philosophy of Mind: 3 essays, 10% participation
  • Philosophy of Religion: 1 essay, 3 short essay assignments, 1 exam, 10 weekly assignments, 10% participation (Tophat marks) (sounds like a lot, but not that bad)

Essays tend to be between 1500-2000 words
Exams often exist out of short answer questions as well as an essay
Overall I find the lecturing style and expectations to be quite similar to Glasgow, and am really happy with all of my courses!



  • Stats: one course worth 8 credits (instead of the normal 3 credits) to replace 3 Glasgow courses, so of course it is quite a bit of work
    Over the entire year I have/ have had: 5 exams (not open-book, but one cheat paper with formulas etc. allowed), 10 homework assignments, there is a participation grade, then there is the big research project
    Not entirely sure how the research project is done in Glasgow, but here you will work in an actual lab recruiting your own participants, so that is quite cool! (but also means that you will spend more time outside the course at the campus; I am running my experiments since last October and will probably finish recruitment early March)
    Also they teach a different statistics software here, so prepare yourself to catch up with R Studio for Glasgow during the summer holidays
  • Childhood & Adolescence: 3 exams (yep that’s it) (all a mix of multiple-choice, fill in the blanks, short answer questions)
  • Cognitive Processes: 2 exams (also multiple-choice and short answer questions), 1 paper, 10% participation (iClicker marks)

The nice thing about Psychology courses is that you can often earn some extra points by taking part in psychology experiments in the labs

The part that I find a bit weird (and still don’t really know how it will apply, as I haven’t taken a complete PSYC course last semester) is that they scale the marks, meaning they are adjusted to a normal distribution quite regularly
What strikes me as weird about it is that you would think that profs would design exams according to their expectations of what you get out of the course, – and if that means that an exam goes really well (too well) rather than thinking all students met the expections, it is interpreted as profs having had unrealistically easy expectations?! – and hence marks need to go down to compare to other courses (or up). Well, I think they have this system in place so marks get more comparable across universities and make comparison fairer, but I still find it quite weird ‘competing’ with others for good grades (at least in my stats course papers are not marked by how good they are as such, but how they compare to the other papers)


What do I prefer? Glasgow assessment or UBC assessment?
A mix in between both! Just writing one exam determining most of your grade means a lot of pressure on 2 hours in Bute Hall (or wherever), but at the same time, writing 3 exams + papers is quite a lot as well
Why not something in between, why either too much UBC or too little Glasgow??


Hope this was helpful for some of you!


Congrats to everyone who received an offer from UBC and and of course to everyone who is going on exchange somewhere else amazing!

One big decision for many going abroad is to decide which kind of accommodation to choose. And before you all make your choices, I thought I put a few things together that you should keep in mind before coming to live in Vancouver.

Most people tend to choose university accommodation and there are excellent reasons to do so, especially if it is your first time travelling abroad by yourself. But finding accommodation can be fun as well! I was lucky to find a place after 1 day in Vancouver and am very happy with where I live, but not many are this lucky and it definitely makes it easier to have everything settled before you come. So I hope the following points help you to make up your mind!

Campus or no campus?

Fact 1) Convenience
Yes, it is a lot more convenient to go for student accommodation. Most people (I think) seem to get a place in student accommodation, and it simply feels good to know quite a few months in advance that you will have a place to live upon arrival

Fact 2) The UBC campus is not actually belonging to Vancouver city…
…but only to Vancouver Metro, like the suburbs Surrey, Richmond etc.
So strictly speaking, if you live on campus you don’t live in Vancouver city (but still in Vancouver Metro), but practically it does not really make a difference as busses take you into Vancouver in no time and no one (other than me) is probably ever going to correct you if you tell people you live in Vancouver (on campus)
(I am still proud to live in the ‘real’ Vancouver though…)

Fact 3) Many supermarkets are expensive on campus
Or at least you do have a lot more choice when living off campus and being able to get to other places more easily. My off-campus supermarket recommendations: No Frills and Superstore
What’s kind of interesting about supermarkets is that prices differ quite a lot from supermarket to supermarket, and fruits for example can be bought cheaper at other random places

Fact 4) Students on campus never leave campus
I suppose one could argue, students never leave campus (at least during the semester) because they don’t have to, which is fair enough, because at least people on campus don’t have to commute 40min every morning and afternoon as I do. Also, there are lots of restaurant, grocery shops, pubs etc. on/near campus, so there is not much of a need to leave. But living in the city makes it a lot easier to see more of Vancouver (especially if you live close to a skytrain station which mean fast travel anywhere (Skytrain is basically the Vancouver subway which mostly runs above the streets, although parts are underground as well); busses just take ages and if you live on campus, busses are your only choice)

Fact 5) Social life
Obviously living on campus with lots of students makes it a lot easier to meet new people and find friends; also there is a lot going on campus (all kinds of parties and events) so you if you prefer having a big social life this is probably the place for you. Living off-campus means you would have to commute again to campus to join in in activities, and it is easy to get lazy.

Fact 6) Cost considerations
You can find a lot cheaper accommodation off-campus, but this means spending time looking for accommodation. As in all big cities there seems to be a surplus in demand and not enough living available, but my impression is that finding a relatively cheap place (maybe 500-600CAD) shouldn’t be too hard if you’re not too demanding. (I will be moving out of my current flat end of March and have booked an AirBnB very close to uni for 600CAD for 25 days)
People that seem to struggle most are people who own pets or couples.
Also university accommodation does not provide all the things you need to live there (students go off every new semester to buy cutlery and pots etc.?! is that normal? But hey, also there are plenty of places where you can purchase cheap used stuff!)

Personally, it feels good to live off-campus just because it feels like I have life away from university and a life other than being a student (living in student accommodation). But that being said, I am saying that now that I am all settled in a flat rather than panicking about where to live. But hope these points help you evaluating what’s best for you!


If you decide to live off-campus

…you should have a look at these sites:

  • Craigslist: great, for basically anything (not just finding a flat, but also finding mattresses, chairs, skis, anything, lots of free stuff as well), and for housing it has a lot more listings and usually cheaper places!
  • Facebook sites: biggest one seems to be one called “Rent a Home” – advantage of Facebook is that people usually answer to messages (on many other sites the flat might be gone since a while already and no one ever gets back to you)
  • Padmapper, worth checking out
  • Renthello, worth checking out
  • And check AirBnB out as well for long-term stays and for first arriving (hostels are not cheap here)

… use google maps to figure out where you want to live and how far commuting to uni takes. Especially popular is Kitislano with great restaurants, beaches, really close to uni, mostly young people. I live close to Queen Elizabeth Park and it is an incredibly pretty area as well! Most places in Vancouver look really nice, so there is not too much you can do wrong. Only avoid East Hastings and I have heard Surrey isn’t the safest either (but this is just a secondary source…) If you live in the suburbs you might want to make sure you live close to a skytrain connection, so commuting doesn’t take too terribly long 🙂

It will definitely be wise though to come maybe around 1-2 weeks before uni starts to sort accommodation out, it will be a lot easier finding something if you are actually here (many people will turn you down just because you can’t visit, and also you can make sure your listing is no scam)


Hope all that helped! Feel free to write me any questions!

Until next time,