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1 Name: Dian Gommers Study Program: Psychology Exchange Semester: Spring Semester 2015 Academic year: Host University: Trent University Peterborough Country: Canada General Information about the school: Trent University: Trent University is a relatively small (mainly undergraduate) university. I think it has about 3500 students which makes it very common for you to bump into people in hallways and teachers do actually know you. Trent is very internationally oriented, TISA is the biggest organization on campus and joining them gives you a free pass to get to know all the international students and become very close friends with them. Trent has small classes in upper years, varying from students per course, which I have experienced as a very positive thing. Besides that, they expect you to work, at the beginning of the semester I made a to-do list which almost consisted of two pages, but even though I thought this looked a bit frightening, during the semester you just do it. I haven t had a single time that I had to cancel a fun activity because of my work, but you have to plan it right. You have to write many essays but they like to give you a good grade for it as well. And in the end, I don t think I have heard anybody who didn t pass their course. The campus has an east and west bank side since the Otonabee river divides the university in half. There is some friendly rivalry among the residences on either side of the river (which will be seen during sporting events) but other than that, it is very nice in the middle of nature with a lot of space around you. If you arrive in September you ll get the opportunity to swim in the river, if you arrive in January, you ll see how beautiful it looks frozen. The university is a 20 minute bus drive away from town, but because you ve got a free bus pass and the bus arrives every 10 minutes, you ll get into town before you know it! Peterborough: Peterborough itself is a small town with its nice little spots such as Natas Café (you have to try the brownies), Whistle Stop Café (eat poutine, it doesn t look good, but you have to try it, especially the pulled pork version), Speak easy (the best for every hangover breakfast) and Riley s (the black couches in the back are the best just to have a nice evening with friends). Its small enough that you can walk around there and find your way around very quickly but its large enough that you won t have enough time to see everything there is to see! Toronto is a 2 hour bus ride on the greyhound away which is nothing if you put it in Canadian perspective and the bus comes every day, multiple times a day, so a weekend Toronto is never a problem. I think Peterborough resembles Tilburg in its size and type of people. You feel at home from the start and you ll never feel lost. Besides that, it has nicer food and nicer surroundings, but well, isn t that what you expect from beautiful Canada? Practical Information: Before you leave: For us, Tilburg University students, the waiting for information takes a while. Since we hear the good news (to which University we can go to) in December, the reaction from the host university will take a while. Trent University will do their work before the end of October. Once you receive your letter of admission things go fast, since they give you your login codes

2 you can register for housing (please, do this as soon as possible, I had my first choice luckily, but I ve seen different things with people who waited until the end), see when you have to arrive and more important information. The communication with Trent went smoothly, I loved the people there and they were always very helpful. Since this year they have a buddysystem in which you get a Canadian student to help you with everything you want. You have each others addresses and they are there for your support. It is nice to know that there is at least one person out there who knows you and in my case, I got a very nice Canadian girl which is still one of my friends on the other side of the Atlantic! One thing I would think about before leaving, I arranged my health care insurance back in Holland, but upon arrival it turned out that you get a mandatory insurance from the university (which isn t for free) so I ended up with two insurances at the same time, so you have to contact Trent to see if your insurance will suffice because otherwise you ll end up in the same situation as I did. Arrival: Canada is very easy concerning getting a visa or studypermit. The only thing you have to bring with you is your acceptance letter and your passport. No difficulties in advance or stressful times, just pack your bags and leave! The arrival is very well arranged, I choose to arrive a few days earlier (to get over my jetlag, thought that would be easiest) but then the Trent Crew will pick you up from the airport and bring you all the way to your own residence. I arrived in January and, unfortunately, they do not have an introduction camp at the point (since the weather doesn t allow you to be outside for more than two minutes) but they will have a day in which you get acquainted with the campus and each other and in which they build your schedule for the next few months. However, if you arrive in September you have a really nice introduction camp (a camp to which my friends who stayed a year referred to many, many times over the semester) in which you make friends for the rest of your stay. For me personally, all the arranging went very smoothly, all my courses were approved by Tilburg before I left and enrolling in those courses in Canada was very easy. And the only problems I had with my Dutch bank, were solved by the TIP office immediately! Housing: Trent University works with residences. All first year and exchange students live on campus in either single, double or triple rooms. I wanted a single room and since I applied for it as soon as I could I got it. I lived on the West Bank in Lady Eaton College which in the end turned out to have the best food but also was nice and quit. The other College on the West Bank is Champlain College (the biggest one out of the four but the food there isn t as nice) and if you like Harry Potter, definitely choose this one, its main hall is a spitting image of the great hall in that movie. The east bank has got Otonabee College (the party college so to speak) and Gzowski College (which is the most expensive and I think the most boring, since nothing really happens there). You can choose to live off campus but please don t, many of my favorite memories have been made in those halls since all of my friends lived there and you eat, live and laugh together all the time! Living costs: Going to Canada is amazing but doesn t make your exchange a cheap one. The housing and food comes together and in my case, takes up a lot of the budget. The only advantage is, since you pay for it in the first month, it feels like you re eating for free for the rest of trip since you don t have to pay for every single meal.

3 If I had to compare my life in Tilburg with my life in Canada, it was definitely much more expensive. And it think that is mainly because you spend all your free time doing fun stuff with friends and experiencing as much as you can! That s something I highly recommend, join every activity there is just because it is often something you ll never do again! If I had to list my expenses per month (in Canadian dollar): -Housing: 900 -Food: 450 -Transport: 0 (or the occasional taxi because you missed the last bus) -Books: only first month 250 -Miscellaneous: a week (depends on how much you do, especially drink) And it does look a lot, and that might be the case, but I haven t regret spending one dollar. Academic Calendar: I can t really tell when semester will start or end (since that does change every year) but as a outline, the first week of September and January normally mark the beginning of the semester and the end will be just before the holidays in December and Mid-April. There will be a midterm break (reading week) in which teachers think you have a lot of time to catch up on stuff and finish essays but in which you actually want to travel, so that s what we ve done) and after that break you ll have your mid-term exams. Your final exams will be placed in the final two or three weeks of the semester. International office: There definitely is an International Office, which can be seen as your safe haven. Every time something goes wrong that s the place you can go to. Even if you just want to have a cup of tea, just walk in and they ll help you with whatever is on your mind. The woman in charge is Kate Logan, who will help you set up your life on that side of the planet. Social Activities: There are so many activities going on at Trent that I don t really know where to begin. You can join numerous sports teams, debate teams, associations linked to studies, international groups, music clubs and you can just go to whatever is said on all the posters distributed around campus. It depends on what you want to do but there will always be something going on. In my case, I spend most of my time doing activities organized by either TISA, the International Office and by accident, TUGS, the geographical association at Trent. You will make most of your friends in other exchange students or international students. Since the group consists of around a people you will get to know them very quickly and spend basically all of your time with them. I had a few local friends but that is more difficult since they already made their friends in first or second year but they will definitely help you with (school related) things you have difficulties with. And about travelling, that s something we definitely did! During reading week we went to New York by bus (which is very cheap and only takes 16 hours) with 10 other exchange students and had an amazing (cold) week. After the semester ended, nobody wanted to go home so with four other exchange students I bought a car (which is easier than I thought) and planned a 7 week roadtrip trough North America which brought us to all the big cities, but especially, national parks we could find! Along the way we met up with our other friends in cities like Vancouver and San Francisco. A lot is possible so I highly encourage any type of travelling since I have never seen a more beautiful country as Canada (if you can, go to Vancouver Island, they have the best sunsets and icecream). Culture and language:

4 The culture shock people talk about before you leave, I definitely experienced that. Mainly because of the food. I m attached to my bread and normal cheese, chocolate sprinkles, healthy food and that s just something they don t know. The first few days were spend in a state of denial that there would be some normal food and that not everybody eats fries for breakfast. But they do, so that s something you have to get used to. The weather will shock you as well, especially if you go for the spring semester. That s what I did and we arrived with -30 degrees. They do know how to make a decent winter coat so that s nice but other than that, prepare yourself for frozen hair and other extremities. But other than that, after a week of struggling I had found my new home! If you worry about the English, the first few days will be a bit tiring since you have to translate everything in your head but after those first days you just go with it. You speak, think and even dream in English. Which helps a lot with the studying process and writing of essays. And if you still experience some problems on that part, you can always go to the Academic Skills centre in which they are happy to help you to get you that A. But to stay in the culture and shock bit, you should keep in mind that the shock upon return might be just as big or even bigger than the other way around. I ve been home for almost two weeks now and still, I d like to go back! It s so different to jump into a world in which you know everything but everything has kept going for half a year without you being in it. It will work out fine in the end but it isn t always as easy. Personal Development: The biggest lesson I ve learned about myself is that the feeling of home doesn t come from the house (or for that matter, the country) you live in, but mostly from the people you hang out with. I had never thought that you could develop friendships that deep in only five months. That is something that made my exchange. Besides that, the feeling of independence you get from being away from everything you know makes you grow as a person. This exchange has shown me my endless possibilities in not only Holland but in the entire world. It has expanded my horizon even further than I thought it could go. I m already planning my next trip since Holland has gotten a bit small after all. My best experience was the road trip we did in the end, it has shown me so many beautiful places this world has to offer. The worst, or most difficult, experience was my first week, the week in which everything is new and you have nothing to really hold on to. But after that first week was over, I got going and never had any bad experience again! I will take with me the feeling of independence and I think that will come in handy in the rest of my life. Academic Information: Academic Level: All the courses are given in English by very enthusiastic and passionate people. The courses I took where extra since I already finished my bachelor. All of them turned out to be really great! Mainly because I chose subjects they didn t offer in Tilburg at all. PSYC 3750H PSYC 3760H PSYC-WMST 3740H PSYC 3560H Health Psychology Human Sexuality Psychology of gender Family Development

5 CAST 1101H Canada: Images and realities of a nation I think the names of the courses speak for themselves. I chose all of them to create some depth in my degree except for the last one, I d like to know something about the country I was living in and since I got room for it, I chose a Canadian studies course, which surprised me in many ways (who knew about the Canadian history with slavery? I didn t). I can recommend all of them. Health Psychology will give you a very interesting lecturer with british roots so as a European exchange student he will like you instantly. Your final grade will consist of many different parts. You will have to exams, at least one essay and assignments you have to hand in every week. It seems a lot but it also means there isn t that much stress during exam period since you ve got so many different opportunities to pass your course! I think the level of education is almost the same as back home, the focus will be on smaller groups and more writing but I see that as something positive! They will keep you busy with the material throughout the entire term instead of just during exams. The library on campus is very accessible and big enough for everyone to find their own little spot between the books. Personally, I never study in the library but I ve heard from others that it was very decent. In the end, I can highly recommend for everyone to go on exchange, it has been the best thing I have ever done and I would go back immediately if they d let me! Maybe I ve been lucky with my host university, maybe I ve been lucky with the people I ve met, but I have never enjoyed studying as much as I ve done the past 6 months. So, if you have read this and aren t convinced yet, please read my blog on or contact me on and I m happy to help you decide!

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