With over 100 partner institutions, going on an exchange has the potential to be academically and personally enriching. But figuring out where to go can be overwhelming. At U of T sometimes there seems like never-ending red tape to access information. Great as it is to know how to get health insurance abroad, it’s important to know your compatibility with your partner school.

the newspaper wants to help you out. In this series, we’ve interviewed U of T students who have gone on exchange around the globe, sharing their personal stories, surprises, and let downs, about their experiences abroad. With the exchange application deadline coming up on February 28th, we hope that you’ll find this as a useful guide.

University of Edinburgh, Nyiri

tn: Why did you choose to go to Edinburgh?

Nyiri: I wanted to go somewhere Anglophone and Scotland grabbed my attention, partially because England seemed cliché and I didn't know much about Ireland. I liked the idea of the UK. Plus, Edinburgh has a stellar reputation.

tn: How would you describe your academic experience?

Nyiri: It was good, it’s really different there. At Edinburgh a full course load is six credits - three per semester. My class time went down to six hours a week, which was great because I wanted to travel. My courses were in poli sci, credits that I could transfer to U of T, but I have a friend who went for Criminology and he just took Intro to Bagpipes and stuff like that. Literally a class on bagpipes.

tn: What was the working versus partying mentality on campus?

Nyiri: Really different from U of T (laughs). I like to think of myself as pretty balanced, but you still hear that rhetoric around campus – Robarts 24/7. Over there people never talk like that. I used the library a few times and it was never that full. Students do well but there wasn’t the same pressure and intense work ethic that I see here.

tn: Brits are known to be drunks, can you attest to this?

Nyiri: I definitely have a few funny stories… For Edinburgh specifically, there were two neighborhoods people went out to. One was called the Cowgate, and that was actually the street I lived on. That was where you’d get Toronto translation College and Bathurst scene - Sneaky Dees sort of places. Another street on the new side of town was more like John and Richmond in Toronto terms, that was called George street. Still people getting shitfaced but more expensively.

tn: Were drugs prevalent around campus?

Nyiri: Lots of alcohol for sure. Everyone smokes cigarettes. Weed wasn’t as big as it is in Canada. From what I understand, doing coke/heroin is more England, especially London. Scotland was pretty much alcohol and cigarettes.

tn: If you come here, you need to go to…

Nyiri: I would say hike Arthur’s seat, which is this inactive volcano, smacked up in the middle of the city and has the most amazing views.

tn: You should come here if…

Nyiri: You’re the kind of person who - ugh this is lame but - appreciates history. Edinburgh is one of those places where every other building has a plaque on it – so much happened. If you appreciate history, you should go.



University of Exeter, Yasmine

tn: How would you describe your academic experience?

Yasmine: I found it a lot easier. You only need to take four courses per semester, and there were a lot less lecture hours. The lectures were a lot smaller, like 100-150 people in second and third year courses. The transfer credits are pass/fail and in England, getting 40% is failing.

tn: Did you enjoy your classes?

Yasmine: Yeah! All my courses were really interesting, I took American politics in Britain which was interesting to do relative to the British system. The only thing I could really complain about is that  I couldn’t take any courses outside of my program, like for my minor or breadth requirements.


tn: What was the working versus partying mentality on campus?

Yasmine: It’s pretty different from Toronto, it’s a university town. So there’s somewhere to go out to every night.

tn: So it's a bit of a party school?

Yasmine: Compared to U of T, yeah I partied more there. There’s usually one or two places in town where anyone who wants to go out that night of the week will go to. When that gets repetitive as an exchange student it’s easy to grab the bus or train to London for the weekend.

tn: What did you get up to in your spare time?

Yasmine: I got to travel a lot, that was what I was looking forward to doing. In Europe cheap airlines like Ryanair are great, so I went to visit my high school in Switzerland in the fall. It takes two and a half hours by train to get to London and I did that a few times. The city is really cute too, it’s not very big, but there’s a lot of history.


tn: Were drugs prevalent around campus?

Yasmine: Not really more than here. The drinking culture is different than in Canada though. British kids drink a lot.

tn: If you come here, you need to go to...

Yasmine: The Quayside along the river Exe is really nice. There are restaurants, cafes and stuff like that. Also, cream tea - you can find it in Exeter and in cute little nearby villages. There are really cute b&b's with scones and clotted cream. Clotted cream is a speciality of Devon so its fucking delicious there. They come with the granny tea cups, the doilies and everything.

Stay tuned for more stories from around the globe!

comments powered by Disqus