Exchange semester overseas: This is what Clara and Michael experienced in Canada

Bachelor student Clara Klöpfer and Master student Michael Herglotz spent their exchange at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. The partner university is one of the favorites among WU students.  This raises the question: What does a semester in North America actually look like? We interviewed them for WU’s Blog and tell you at the end of the article how you can apply for an exchange yourself.

 WU Blog: You spent an exchange at Queen’s University. What was your personal motivation for doing so?

Clara: I always wanted to study at a university where studying means more than just studying. I was looking for a place that also conveys a feeling of togetherness. Queen’s is shaped by students and possesses this incredible community feeling, which shows itself in joint parties, intense basketball games or full learning cafés.

Michael: I see it the same way as Clara. There have been so many students before me, enthusiastic about Queen’s University. Personally, I appreciate the courses offered, the leisure activities, and the various destinations for trips in Canada. These were my main reasons for choosing Queen’s University as my first preference.


WU Blog: How were the arrival and the first days in Canada? How did you experience the campus of the partner university?

Clara: The first days were eventful but also beautiful. Students usually live in one of the many houses around campus. I lived there with eight great housemates from all over the world. We spent the first few days together with other exchange students, going to the beach at Ontario Lake as well as in the orientation programs. In Kingston, everything is within walking or biking distance, which really gives you the feeling of freedom and independence.

Michael: Wanting to see more of the country before the semester started, I decided to take a road trip with friends through British Colombia and Alberta in western Canada. For three weeks, we camped in nature, saw breathtaking national parks and drove along one of the most beautiful panorama roads in the world – the Icefield Parkway. Back in Kingston, my roommates (all WU students) were already eagerly waiting for me. The first days were relaxed and since our semester started a bit late, we were able to get to know the city, the campus, and the people better.

WU Blog: How did you like the academic offer at the partner university? Where are differences to WU?

Clara: In general, there was a considerable focus on discussion, interaction and group work – the small group size in the courses was an advantage. The dedicated professors were interested in our success, which meant challenges and encouragement at the same time.

Michael: Each course was interactive and there were multiple assignments. It was fun to work with classmates who had work experience already in different fields. The courses were all high quality and the biggest difference to WU was probably that most classes lasted only three weeks, but were held several times a week.



WU Blog: How did you spend time away from the university? What were your experiences?

Clara: Aside university, traveling was my first priority. It’s simple: You take other exchange students and book a trip into the unknown – to New York, for example. This and all other trips to Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara Falls or Montréal (all accessible by bus or train) became unforgettable experiences. Through these trips, deep and unexpected friendships were formed that now stretch across continents and time zones.

Michael: In the first month after our arrival, we explored the cities in the vicinity, such as Ottawa and Montréal, or made excursions into nature. Not far from Kingston, there is Wolfe Island: A mile-long sandy beach and paradise for those seeking peace and quiet. In Kingston itself, there are all kinds of things to do: if you’re in a party mood, you can live it up almost every day. For people who have a fine taste, there is an abundance of restaurants on Princess Street. Those who enjoy sports will find opportunities and can even join sports teams. Those who prefer to watch sports from the stands are rewarded with free tickets from Queen’s.

WU Blog: Would you recommend an exchange semester in North America?

Clara: Absolutely, a semester abroad in North America and especially in Canada shapes and sharpens the view for the essential. It’s about friendship, new knowledge and last but not least the high value of culture, diversity and togetherness. So I fully recommend it.

Michael: I can only join Clara in giving my recommendation. I really enjoyed every moment and the time flew by. Life at American universities is very different from universities here, and you feel like you’re the protagonist in one of those classic American college movies.

Do you want to apply for an exchange semester abroad?