Going on an exchange allows you to experience many new things. Learning at a new university has given me an in-depth look at the post-secondary education system in Australia. Until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to compare my university experience to anything. There are many differences and similarities between my home university, the University of Guelph (UofG) and the Australian National University (ANU). Overall, both UofG and ANU are great universities.
One of the main focuses of any university is on education and learning. At ANU, there is an online system called Echo360 that records all lectures. This gives students who missed a lecture the opportunity to stay up to date with presented material. However, it does also present students with the option to not attend lectures. There are upsides and downsides to the system. I am personally quite impressed by the system and believe it should be implemented at most universities. At UofG there is no such system, making attendance to lectures much more important. There is no way to stay fully up to date if you miss a lecture or two. This often leads to the creation of large online student groups who help each other out with missing notes.
One of the things I have been quite excited for is the number of field trips scheduled throughout this semester. Since starting my university career and up until coming to ANU, I have only gone on one field trip associated with coursework. At ANU, I have a course where we go on weekly field trips around the city. Additionally, I have been on two great multiday field trips.
One difference I haven’t felt the effects of yet is the course load. Back at home, a full-time course load is considered five courses versus at ANU where it is four. I do believe I will feel the effects of this when it comes to the final exam period. In my eyes, studying for four exams will be a whole lot easier and less stressful than studying for five. I have also noticed that many of my courses use projects as a replacement for midterm exams.
Another aspect of any university is student life. The services offered on and off-campus are an aspect of university life that every student holds dear. For example, a gym membership is a great way to stay healthy during studying. Back home, a gym membership is $90 for a school year. At ANU, there are two options for a gym membership. The first is a membership to ANU Sport, which is a gym club run by the university. A 12-month membership is approximately $530. The second option is through a private gym club located directly on campus. The club is quite new with nice facilities and even has a pool. The cost for a 12-month membership is approximately $996. Gym memberships at ANU are much more expensive than back home.
Both schools have interuniversity sports programs. At ANU, there are interhall sports teams. Members of each residence hall compete against each other, which creates a sense of competitiveness between halls. At Guelph, there are some residence teams, however, the majority choose to create or join a team with friends.
Back home at UofG, almost all residence halls require students to have a meal plan. As a result, there are many more food options across campus. There are two large food courts on campus and most halls have their own cafeteria. Additionally, there are food trucks that visit campus almost every day. At ANU, food options are limited to some cafes and bars like the Little Pickle and some restaurants around the Kambri precinct.
One of my favorite aspects of both universities is their ability to incorporate nature into the campus. Keeping natural spaces helps to conserve the beauty of the campus and makes great hangout spots.