Arriving in Ottawa
To be completely honest, I knew next to nothing about Ottawa before I got accepted to study at uOttawa on exchange. From hearing things about Ottawa from other Canadians I had met on my Europe holiday before arriving in Canada, it sounded pretty much like Canberra – a place where no one really gets excited to go to but if you’re living there as a student then life can be pretty great. When I first arrived in Ottawa it seemed like that was all true, not much seemed to be going on. Later that day though I walked through the Byward Market in Downtown Ottawa next to the university, and I actually really liked it! There were lots of restaurants and pubs lined up and there were pretty fairy lights along buildings and trees, and there was a massive shopping centre (Rideau Centre) right by uOttawa as well which I knew was going to end up being my second home here in Ottawa. I got pretty good vibes from the area and got excited knowing that I’ll have 4 months here to explore Ottawa.
Arriving in Canada I was still super stressed about the whole experience mainly because I didn’t actually have accommodation for the 4 months yet. The day before I left to go overseas to travel for 6 weeks before exchange, I found out I didn’t get an offer for on-campus residence. After being in close contact with the housing office at uOttawa from the day I arrived, I still didn’t have any luck with any housing options around uni. After the first week though, I, along with another UTS student on exchange at uOttawa eventually found a nice house to live in although it was about 30 mins away on public transport. I personally was pretty bummed about not being on residence and I felt like I had completely missed out on such a big part of what I hoped my experience would be, which was being on residence surrounded by other students all the time. But this has been one of the first lessons I’ve learnt from exchange and I’m only in my second week here – things don’t always go how you want it to go and you’ve got to be able to adapt and make the most out of whatever situation you are in. The start of my exchange hasn’t been how I had also imagined it to be, but I’ve now settled into my new home that I’m sharing with 4 other girls, and I’m more eager to discover more parts of Ottawa and make more of an independent effort to go and meet new people.
University of Ottawa is actually pretty similar to UTS in terms of the learning expectations and hours. Back at UTS I’m under the Business and Transdisciplinary Innovation faculty, but here in Ottawa I chose elective subjects under the Social Sciences faculty. I’ve never really thought this in my life but I was actually pretty keen to go to class because I have a genuine interest in all the subjects I’ve chosen. With my subjects at uOttawa though there are no tutorials, only lectures, and these lectures were completely full with up to 250 people in each.
As a part of one of my subjects, Women, Gender and Feminism, we have the option to complete an alternative assessment by completing a Community and Service Learning Placement with one of the organisations that the university partners up with, whose scope of work revolves around racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, gender and/or feminism. In the past I have been involved in a range of different community and service activities and found them to be great learning experiences, so I was really impressed and attracted by this offer from this course. Positions were available to less than a quarter of the cohort, and I luckily registered right before the positions ran out and successfully received a placement with Acorn Canada as an Outreach Assistant. The placement requires at least 30 hours of service outside of uni hours, but I thought this would be a good way to meet some more locals, learn more about the culture and community in Ottawa, and experience some volunteer work in a foreign country (and thought it would look really good on my resume too!).
Bachelor of Management and Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
University of Ottawa