Adventure Awaits on Vancouver Island through Killam Fellowships Program Past Review

By (Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 09/01/2015 to 12/22/2015 with

University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
While in Victoria, I was able to learn how to be truly on my own (and love it!) and connect with nature in a completely different way. I was asked several times why I would want to study in Canada, since it's basically the same as the USA. I found this to be completely untrue--they are different in many ways. I learned about different foods, words, political views, and animals (I saw a baby orca and it made the whole thing worthwhile). I especially valued the exposure that I had to the First Nations cultures. I was able to take a class on indigenous art of the Pacific Northwest, and I even ate smoked salmon made by the chief of a village that was thousands of years old.

Review Photos

University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo University of Victoria: Victoria - Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were similar to the ones I've taken at home, but it took a little while to adjust to their writing and grading style.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There was no one from the Killam Fellowships program in Victoria, but the all-expenses-paid orientation in Ottawa was awesome. It really made me feel welcome in Canada and I got to meet a lot of new, intelligent people, who were both Canadian and American. I also befriended a few people who were on exchange in Vancouver, and we were able to visit each other a couple of times throughout the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was accepted into the program in May, so it was too late to find guaranteed housing on campus. Instead, I found a cheap room in a house with a lovely family in the quiet neighborhood of Oak Bay. The beach was a 5 minute walk away, there was a little grocery store and bakery around the corner, and both the university and downtown were about a 15 minute bus ride away. However, I feel like I would have been able to socialize more if I had lived on campus.

* Food:

I missed Tex Mex, but that was okay because Victoria had great seafood, scones, and coffee on every corner! I discovered a drink called the London Fog there and it changed my life.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I did get a little homesick at times, especially when it started to get dark at 3:30 pm in late fall, but it wasn't hard to fit in there. I met a lot of very nice people with whom I could go on a hike or grab a beer. Additionally, there is an endless amount of beautiful places to visit on Vancouver Island and in Canada in general, and it is ridiculously easy to find someone who will go with you.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The Killam Fellowship includes some money for health insurance, but I never had to visit the doctor while on exchange.

* Safety:

I felt extremely safe in Victoria. I was more scared of seeing a cougar than I was of being attacked by a person. Generally, the people there are very friendly and helpful.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I never had to worry about money there. The rent was much lower than what I pay in Austin at about $460 per month (USD), and the Canadian dollar is currently about 75 cents to every US dollar.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Approximately $60 per week (not including travel expenses or rent)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The little grocery stores in each "village" or neighborhood shopping center are very convenient, but more expensive. Save-on-Foods is cheaper, but usually further away.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Indigenous Cultures/Art
  • Forests and beaches
  • $5,000 fellowship
* What could be improved?
  • Exchange support in Victoria
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had planned ahead for travel! There were so many places that I wanted to visit, but once I was there and taking classes, I was too overwhelmed to plan as many big trips as I had wanted.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.