University of British Columbia
Name: Sidsel Marie Lyhne
Study programme at CBS: BSc In International Business
Exchange School: University of British Columbia
Location: Vancouver, Canada
What is it like at University of British Columbia?
When the automatic voice in the bus said “University Boulevard”, I realised that I was soon entering the UBC campus. One of the first things I noticed was how big it is. It has its own bus loop, several grocery shops, 3 bars and to all the coffee lovers – 8 Starbucks. But beware. Once you enter campus, you may never want to leave, because you have it all.
Despite all the construction going on at the moment (UBC has a huge sustainability focus, so right now they are improving the heating system), the campus is beautiful. There are trees everywhere, and a walk around campus will have you walking through rose gardens, botanical gardens, and wreck beach, which is notorious for nudity. Sauder, the business school at UBC, is located in the North-West corner, so every morning when I walk to school I get a view of the mountains and sea, which a Canadian flag standing proudly in front.
There are 40,000 students at UBC, and since it isn’t only a business school, you meet a huge range of people studying everything from geography to theatre to kinesiology <– bet you don’t know what that is! But of course Sauder is the coolest faculty, and the dress code is similar to CBS as a lot of 4th year students are running off to interviews at McKinsey, Microsoft and KPMG in between classes. However you will see a varsity basketball player in sweatpants once in a while.
Was it easy to make friends?
YES. I live in Fairview Crescent, a cute residence area with lots of small apartment-houses; the hub for exchange students. Therefore, it didn’t take long before I met my neighbours, and other cool people living in the Fairview area. Additionally, I signed up to live with 3 other CBS students, and was placed in a co-ed house of 6, so I live with 2 Canadian guys who are awesome. UBC also has this thing called “Imagine Day” where you are put in groups and given a campus tour, and introduction to UBC, which is a great way to meet new people. There is also a UBC Exchange Students Facebook group where people are always organising trips and parties, so that was a great way to meet friends from all over the world.
Generally speaking, exchange students tend to make friends with each other, as they are sharing this new experience, but I’ve made friends in my classes too, as there is so much group work. This means I’ve ended up spending lots of time with the 6 (!) different groups I’ve had.
Do you like living in Canada?
They don’t call it Beautiful British Columbia for nothing! I thought I was 100% a city girl, but Vancouver has the best of both worlds – nature and city. Downtown Vancouver is full of great shopping, awesome restaurants, cafes, and there are lots of beaches and a beautiful park called Stanley Park. Within 2-3 hours of downtown there are options to go on hikes, such as the Grouse Grind, Garibaldi Lake, Lynn Canyon, and Whistler is a popular ski area that most students go to in between or after exams.
The people are really polite and kind, even the buses say “SORRY” when they are out of service! Vancouver has an immense amount of immigration, so it is a multicultural hub. Psst this also means lots of sushi and other great Asian food! Vancouver is really a place – I could see myself living here for years! However, it’s really annoying that you can’t buy alcohol in supermarkets or 7/11 – you have to go to liquor stores, pay a crazy high price, and always have 2 pieces of ID on you.
Have you had any difficulties with language?
No. Canadians are impeccable at English, but as you may have heard from Robin in How I Met Your Mother, they pronounce words rhyming with “out” a bit funnily, and some actually do say “eh”. It’s super cute!
What is accommodation like? Do you have to find your own or does the school offer housing?
There are several different places you can live on campus. I live, as mentioned, in Fairview Crescent, which are small houses of 4-6 people. You get your own room, and then there’s a living room, kitchen and 1-2 bathrooms. It’s a 20 minute walk from Sauder, which can be a bitch if it’s raining, but some people have opted for buying a bike. Fairview has the best coffee shop ever, called the Beanery. I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed that the baristas recognise me when I come in. Marine Drive is an apartment building which is also nice (they get a TV!!!!), which is closer to Sauder, but not that many exchange students live there, so it’s a bit isolated from all the exchange student parties.
What electives are you taking and do you like them?
To get 30 ECTS, you have to take 5 subjects (each are worth 6 ECTS so keep this in mind if you need to get 7.5 ECTS to fulfil a certain criteria). My favourite subject that I’m taking is Sales Management, where we got the chance to do a sales call with Proctor and Gamble, and where we learn great sales skills. It’s a very interactive class where you never sit still, and the teacher is full of energy. Buyer Behaviour is great and chill too, it is basically the psychology behind marketing, and understanding why consumers make certain purchase decisions. E-Marketing is fun, and you learn some pretty hands-on skills about social media, personal branding, and you work with a client to develop an online marketing plan. I decided to take Financial Management, which has a misleading name as it is entirely about M&As. It’s a very case-based subjects, but it’s tough if you forgot to pay attention in Corporate Finance. Lastly I’m taking New Enterprise Development, which I can recommend if you’re into entrepreneurship. At the start of the course you find a group, and think of a product/service, and the idea is to change it a million times until you have a product that people actually need and would want to buy. You have to do 5 “customers interviews” though, which can be extremely time-consuming, but you learn some great entrepreneurship, creative and communication skills.
What are the biggest differences between CBS and UBC?
Everything about teaching and learning is different. Our grade is split into participation, group assignments, individual assignments, mid-terms, finals, quizzes and often other things too. This means you have to be active in class, you have to juggle 4 or 5 group projects at a time, and you constantly have to be on top of work. Slacking is not really an option, but when it comes to final exams, you might be lucky (like me) to only have one! But if you hate that at CBS your grade is completely dependent on 1 project or 1 exam, UBC’s grading system will be for you.
Then there’s campus life, which I would recommend if you want the “campus experience”. Oh yeah, and we have Frat Village too, which host parties, just like in the movies. And their Nexus is called “The Pit”. Note that people are pretty young too. The average age in 3rd and 4th year classes(which you will be taking) is probably 19-20.
What have been your coolest experiences so far?
I’ll describe one of the coolest days I’ve had. It started with Homecoming, so I got to see my first American Football game, with cheerleaders, beers and UBC colours on my cheeks. Afterwards, my roommates and I went home, ready to chill for the rest of the day, when suddenly two guys came and knocked on our front door, and invited us to play beer pong. I do not refuse a good game of beer pong, so I pulled my friends along, and suddenly we were playing stackers (a different version of beer pong), with red cups, and 10 random strangers. The party got closed down because we were being too loud, but luckily someone volunteered to host an after party. I was home at 2am, realising I hadn’t had dinner, but the people I met ended up becoming my really good friends. These are the kinds of things that will happen to you at uni.
On a more professional note, TEDx Talks came to Vancouver, so I attended a conference from 8-17, with 10 exciting speakers, and a classy after party on a 360 degree rooftop bar. Then there was also the surfing trip to Tofino, which I recommend you do if you come to Vancouver!
Why should other students go to Vancouver for exchange?
I haven’t tried exchange anywhere else, so I’m slightly biased to Vancouver and UBC, so I would definitely recommend it. Other students should go to Vancouver because it is nature meets city life, cosiness in small bars meets the grandeur of snow-topped mountains, and because UBC is ranked 40th in the world, boasting excellent professors, inspiring people, and great student life. You’ll never be done discovering UBC and Vancouver, so do yourself a favour and spend at least 4 months here.