International Programs Office

International Programs Office

International Programs Office

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Learn about exchange from a Peer Adviser

Exchange Peer Advisers are returned exchange students who have undergone training so they can advise their peers on how to best prepare for the program. They attend events and spend 1.5 hours in the International Programs Office each week so they can meet with students who have questions about the exchange program. 

                  Monday             Tuesday          Wednesday           Thursday
9:00am-10:30am  Alyssa McLeod

Yasemin Blacklock

 Crystal Choi Emily Collis
10:30am-12:00pm      Samantha Neilson

Paula Rooney

Sophie Fusigboye Micayla Crawley

Genevieve Tallmeister

Alexis Fabricius Katrina McGeorge Austin Henderson

Taylor Macaulay

Erin Grennell Chuhan Chen Odelle Ma

Interested in meeting with a Peer Adviser?  Email the IPO ( or drop by to book an appointment.

Paula Rooney
Exchange Country: Scotland
Host University: University of Glasgow

Discipline: APEC

I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as when I boarded the plane from Calgary to Scotland. I had to force myself to not turn around in the security line and go straight back home. Now, I could not be happier that I got on the plane and moved to Glasgow, Scotland.

I studied at the University of Glasgow at the Adam Smith School of Business in the winter semester of 2017. I lived in a first year residence with four other Scottish first years. My weekdays were filled with lectures, walks around Glasgow’s West End and coffee dates with my friends. The only constant about my weekend was that I was hoping on some sort of transportation to go and explore somewhere new. Weekend trips to Berlin, Amsterdam, The Scottish Highlands, and London were absolute highlights of my exchange. In addition, the people made my exchange absolutely everything that it was. I now have friends from Australia, Norway, Spain, The US, Scotland, and Belgium… There are too many places to list.

My only regret was that there was not enough time for everything. There are too many hills to climb, too many cities to visit, and too many people to become friends with for just a semester. Exchange has completely changed my perspective on my future. I now feel confident and able enough to look for international opportunities, live across the world from my family and friends, and thrive in a new environment. I’m so excited for the next group of students to head out on their own adventures!

Alexis Fabricius
Exchange Country: Scotland
Host University: University of Edinburgh

Discipline: APEC/POLS

I had heard about the transformative experience that is exchange before I came to Queen’s, so ever since I set foot on campus in first year I knew I wanted to study abroad.

This came true when I was accepted to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for the winter semester. Edinburgh was a perfect combination of small town feel in an international city. The main campus was right in the heart of the beautiful old town with the Castle on one side and Holyrood Palace on the other. I lived in a residence with a combination of first years and other exchange students, which was a great way to create long-lasting friendships.

With over 400 years of innovation and teaching experience the University of Edinburgh is a one of the world’s top universities. My professors broadened my knowledge on many topics that I have never studied before. They inspired me to take a more global perceptive on my thinking and to bring this back to my studies at Queen’s.

Exchange is not only about getting a more global perspective in your area of study but also learning more about the world, yourself and different cultures. From training through central Europe to road trips through Portugal and four wheeling through the Swiss Alps, these five months were ones I will never forget.

However, one thing I recommend on exchange is to not forget to explore your own city, take the time to stop at every café along the street and read in the park, I am very thankful for the Queen’s exchange program for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Genevieve Tallmeister
Exchange Country: Sweden
Host University: Lund University

Discipline: DEVS

I had always known I wanted to go on exchange, which is one of the reasons I chose Queen’s in the first place! Being Estonian, I was always fascinated with the dynamic cultures of Northern Europe… a bit of an unchartered territory for tourists. For the entirety of my third undergraduate year, I had the opportunity to live and study in Sweden.

Though the year began with a few hurdles, before I knew it I was on my way to live in the country I had always had in the back of my mind. Though I had lived away from home from my first and second years of university, I was still in a bubble, and didn’t truly know what it was like to burst that bubble until I went on exchange. I became more spontaneous and curious than ever before, finding myself in countries (Morocco, Norway, Estonia, etc.) with people I had known anywhere from 1 day to a few months. My passion for international development intersected with my love of travel and language, and I became more involved in school organizations than ever before. I had the chance to become local in an entirely new city and even learned a bit of Swedish (…mycket svårt!). And the best part… I ate foods far better than anything you’ll ever find at IKEA.

Though it is a bit of a cliche to say that exchange is life-changing, almost everyone who comes back from exchange says that they are a different person. This is hard to argue - when thrown into a new country with no foundational support around you, you are forced to grow and change in more ways than you’ll ever imagine. If you don't become a different person, you become a better person; I’ve been equipped with independence, the ability to adapt to new universities, cities, and situations. I miss Sweden and my friends immensely, but am so excited to back, with a new appreciation for Queen’s and my home country.

Micayla Crawley
Exchange Country: Germany
Host University: Universität Tübingen

Discipline: LING/LANG

I could not have picked a better place to do my exchange abroad. The small town of Tübingen, Germany will forever be a second home for me.

From sitting by the water and walking around the altstadt (old town), to the amazing friends I met and all the adventures we went on, I had the time of my life! I immersed myself in the German culture and language, improving my German skills every day, while still having opportunities to travel many other parts of Europe.

Exchange opened my eyes to many new cultures and values, taught me to seize every moment, and appreciate everything around me. I am so grateful for each and every person I met along the way and every experience that helped me grow as an individual.

Chuhan Chen
Exchange Country: England, United Kingdom
Host University: University of Manchester

Discipline: DEVS

I spent the winter semester in the University of Manchester, which is the second-largest university in the United Kingdom. I could not ask for a better exchange abroad experience than the one I had there.

I chose University of Manchester because it has a wide range of programs to choose from and a large amount of international population. During my stay in Manchester, I had some interesting courses which are not held at Queen’s. I found the International Disaster & Humanitarian Response program particularly interesting, as it is related to my major but are more practical and provide me with more knowledge from different perspectives. What’s more, the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning is unique to UOM, which offers a variety of interdisciplinary courses to help broaden horizon and build up extracurricular experience. The university also owns and operates major cultural assets in Manchester, such as the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery.

I spent most of my spare time wandering around Manchester and travelling around England. Manchester is an amazing city as it combines cultural and historical heritages with the modern city life. Manchester is jam-packed with unique and eclectic restaurants, bars, shops, museums, galleries and theatres. I still remember the days and nights I spent walking on the streets, sitting in the cafes and immersing myself in Manchester.

Exchange is a great time for me to rediscover myself, to explore the world and to make friends. More importantly, it left me with all the experiences and memories which I will cherish forever. 

Erin Grennell
Exchange Country: The Netherlands
Host University: University College Utrecht

Discipline: LISC

Deciding to spend a semester was scary but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my undergraduate experience at Queen’s. I spent last semester at University College Utrecht in the Netherlands which is a small college associated with the bigger university. The college had a student body of less than 800 students but it was a great community to meet new people from all over the world and get involved on campus. Over half of the student population was international which made it a great opportunity to meet people from all different cultures and backgrounds. I lived in an apartment-style residence with people from Poland, France, the Netherlands and the US who quickly became good friends.

Utrecht has been named the world’s best cycling city. At any given time there are almost always more bikes on the road then cars. So of course within the first few days of arriving in the Netherlands I had bought myself a bike and used it to travel everywhere in the city. I quickly learned the rules of the road and eventually how to best balance with someone riding on the back! I spent most of my weekdays going to classes and exploring the beautiful city of Utrecht. I loved finding new cafes to study at and going out for lunches by the canal. I also had the opportunity to plan spontaneous weekend trips to many other European countries which contributed to my amazing memories from abroad.

Exchange is an opportunity to meet new people whose unique perspectives help to paint a broader picture of the world. It is an opportunity to gain confidence in living away from home and adapting to a new environment. As much as I loved every single country I travelled to, I also gained an appreciation for what a safe and inclusive country Canada is. Arriving home was sad but I feel so lucky to have these memories and experiences abroad that I will cherish forever. !

Taylor Macaulay
Exchange Country: Taiwan
Host University: National Taiwan University

Discipline: PSYC

My time in Taiwan provided me with memories and stories I never could have dreamed of having, and was truly a life-changing, unforgettable experience. Choosing Taiwan as my destination in the first place was slightly nerve-wracking, and throughout my application experience I was a bit anxious about things such as language barriers and cultural differences. In all the excitement and anticipation leading up to my departure, my expectations never even came close to matching the magnitude of the profound experience I was about to have.

The feeling of going to an unfamiliar place can be scary, and when you combine that with a completely different language and lack of close companions it can be a little overwhelming. However, as soon as my plane landed in Taiwan I felt welcomed, safe, and comfortable. I never thought that I would spend a portion of my life living in an Asian country, though looking back I can no longer imagine my life without this experience. The pride as well as the confidence that comes along with thriving in a new environment is priceless, and it builds aspects of your character you may not have even known were there.

National Taiwan University has a very large international program, and I was lucky enough to make meaningful connections with people from all around the world. I lived in a residence building that was comprised of both local students and exchange students, giving me a chance to interact with an endless variety of different people. Breaking away from the routines of living at home and taking a step, or rather a 16-hour flight, out of my comfort zone taught me invaluable things about both myself and the world; things that cannot be learned within the confines of a classroom.

Katrina McGeorge
Exchange Country: The Netherlands
Host University: University College Maastricht

Discipline: PSYC/RELS

As a high school graduate applying to university, I knew two things: I wanted to study psychology and I wanted go on a semester abroad during my undergraduate degree. I was pulled to Queen’s by their great academic standing, among other things, but especially by their exchange program. The idea of exchange was incredibly exciting, but also always seemed to be so far away. Soon enough, though, I had been accepted to University College Maastricht (UCM) in the Netherlands, and was preparing for my six months abroad in Europe! Before leaving, I felt a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and total fear. Being nervous was scary, but is was also a good thing – getting out of your comfort zone is an important part of the exchange experience, and leads to a lot of personal growth!

I spent a week in Berlin before settling into Maastricht, the small Dutch town I would be living and studying in for the next six months. It was my first time in Europe, which was again, both exciting and extremely nerve wracking! I quickly fell in love with the beautiful antiquity of European cities, though, and could not wait to explore more. Maastricht is an incredibly sweet town, with lovely old buildings, churches, and cobblestone streets. Just a 10-minute bike ride away from the Belgian border, it quickly became my home away from home.

UCM is a small faculty that is part of the larger University Maastricht. It is a largely international school, where even the regular students are mostly from other places in Europe, such as Germany or France. Even though I was taking classes in English, studying at an international university was very different; having trilingual professors and learning with students from all around the world was a very eye-opening experience.

The college planned an incredible welcome week for incoming exchange students, where I met a group of friends with whom I clicked with immediately, who became my tight knit community for the rest of my time abroad. Over my six months away, I visited 16 countries and explored many cities within each with my friends. I even did a few solo trips, which were intimidating at first but ended up contributing to some of my favourite memories!

For years I knew that I wanted to go on exchange, particularly somewhere in Europe. Applying to study in the Netherlands wasn’t always part of my exchange plan, but looking back, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would not trade my time in Maastricht for the world, and will carry with me the memories and adventures that I experienced abroad for the rest of my life!

Alyssa McLeod
Exchange Country: France
Host University: Sciences Po

Discipline: PHIL/POLS

I studied at Sciences Po, Paris which is a leading institution in France specializing in the social sciences and humanities. Sciences Po has a renowned reputation and it brings together some of the world's finest researchers and practitioners. With a population composed of roughly 50 percent international students, it has a truly multicultural community and champions the values of diversity and open-mindedness. Studying at Sciences Po was a transformative experience. I studied subjects I had never learned about before and got to work alongside brilliant students from around the globe. Thanks to my classes and the university Welcome Programme, I met some of the most incredible people and forged friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I lived in a charming apartment in the south of Paris with three other international students - two from the United States, and one from Kenya. We lived in a residential neighbourhood with beautiful cafes, markets, and commercial streets. My university was only a short metro ride away and every corner of the city was accessible thanks to an astoundingly expansive public transportation system.

I only had classes from Monday to Wednesday so I often had the chance to travel. Some of my favourite memories include staying in my first hostel in Brussels, exploring the streets of Lisbon, couch surfing in Normandie, and biking along la Promenade des Anglais in Nice. More often, though, I loved to stay and explore Paris - visiting different gardens, going to historic museums, attending jazz concerts, and consuming all the wine, bread, and cheese my body could handle in five months.

If there's one thing I could recommend to outgoing exchange students, it is to meet the locals in your host city/country. I had the chance to meet some of the most amazing people in Paris who opened my eyes to an entirely new side of the city and French culture. It also gave me the opportunity to practice my French and I noticed a huge improvement over the months that I lived there.

I miss France every single day. I miss the language, the food, and the charm of the Parisian streets. I miss the people and pace of life which is so difficult to replicate on this side of the ocean. My exchange fundamentally changed my perspective on the world and my ideas for how I want to live. I am so grateful to Queen's for providing me with this opportunity and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world. 

Crystal Choi
Exchange Country: Sweden
Host University: Lund University

Discipline: LISC

When someone asks me how my exchange experience was, I find myself momentarily frozen as I struggle to find the right words to describe such a life-changing experience in just a couple of sentences. To sum it up truthfully, however, it was one of the best decisions and the best years of my life. Last year, I had the privilege to study abroad in Sweden at Lund University for an academic year. The things I learned, not just academically, but also about the world, different cultures, and most importantly, about myself, combined with the fantastic people I met and the unique experiences that I had in everyday life as well as during my travels, saw me landing back in Canada 11 months later as a different person. My experience far exceeded anything I had ever imagined, and surprised me with every turn and twist that was the life of an exchange student. The independence that I gained from living by myself abroad for a year has carried through, enabling me now to do much more than I previously thought possible. Being able to focus on only one course per term, I was able to delve more deeply into my field of interest without the rush for time, allowing me to explore my courses at my own pace. Finally, the perspectives I gained from the new people I met and the new culture that surrounded me has also returned with me to Canada, and now I am able to approach situations from a variety ways rather than the limited few that used to be in my arsenal.

One of the best memories that I have from exchange is the feeling of becoming a local in a completely new city, in a new country. When I hopped on my bike to go to class or to meet up with friends, I knew the city well enough to know exactly which route and shortcuts to take. I knew the affordable, hidden restaurants to go to for a quick lunch, as well as the more classy ones for a night out with friends. Stepping off the train onto the platform of Lund Central Station after a weekend trip and recognizing the familiar sights of the city, felt like I was coming back home. When I look back, the life I built for myself over the year gives is truly an accomplishment that serves as a reminder that I am more capable than I sometimes believe myself to be.

As far as my experience goes, no one returning from exchange comes back regretting the decision to go. It is an invaluable learning experience academically and beyond, which could serve as anyone’s stepping stone towards personal growth and a glimpse into what the world has to offer outside national boundaries.

Emily Collis
Exchange Country: Australia
Host University: University of Western Australia

Discipline: LISC/PSYC

Emily's story is coming soon!

Austin Henderson
Exchange Country: Australia
Host University: University of New South Wales

Discipline: ARTF

Even before applying to university, I knew that I wanted a semester abroad to be a part of my undergraduate experience. After almost two years and with boundless excitement, I was boarding a plane to Sydney, Australia. During the several months I was away, I learned endless things about myself, my capabilities, and the people in my life. 

I studied at UNSW Art & Design, which is a specialized campus of UNSW. I lived in a house with several people a bit older than me, in the charming neighbourhood of Paddington. My housemates had two dogs, and campus was only a 3-minute walk away.  My favourite moments were those morning walks to class, coffee in hand, strolling through the beautiful little neighbourhood that I was able to call my own. There was nothing more rewarding than feeling at-home in a city that was on the other side of the world. The people of Sydney are friendly, funny, and full of energy. The city offers everything you could possibly imagine: world-class malls, famous landmarks (I never got tired of seeing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge), beaches, museums, and delicious food. It’s such a big city that you really don’t have to travel all that much… there’s always something to do!

On the note of travelling, I was able to make a weekend trip to Melbourne, and took a day trip to Canberra, Australia’s capital. After my semester was finished, I spent a month solo travelling around Southeast Asia, which was challenging, eye-opening, and the most rewarding travel experience I’ve accomplished. 

If I could offer a word of advice for those who are thinking of going on exchange, I’d say that you should get yourself involved. Volunteer at a shelter, a museum — anything that sparks your interest. Joining a club or two on campus will help you find a social circle, and allow you to feel even more like a local student. I volunteered at a couple of arts events, and was able to meet some wonderful people from all walks of life. 

Exchange can be a life-altering time, and the only person who can make the experience worthwhile is you. Be sure to live every day like the adventure that it is, and you’ll come back to Queen’s as a recharged person with fresh perspectives. 

Sophie Fusigboye
Exchange Country: China
Host University: Fudan University

Discipline: BIOL

Going on exchange to Shanghai, China (上海) was one of the outstanding experiences of my life. It was a tough decision to go to China because it pushed me further outside my comfort zone but I would have regretted it if I didn’t go. Exchange, was a life changing experience which changed me as a person. Like my international experience in Canada, China was a place I could truly find myself and explore.

While in Fudan University, I studied Biology under the department of Life Science. Being the only exchange student in my faculty really helped to me get accustomed to the culture really quick. However, Fudan had almost 7000 international and exchange students from more than 120 countries. Most of us lived on campus in our 24 stories international residence or sub-buildings with students from all over the globe. Our common room was hotspot filled several discussions in different languages. The Campus was huge and my dorms were a 15-minute walk from classes but I loved biking to city too. There was nothing more rewarding than biking in the city because every day was an adventure. There is nothing more exciting than learning a new language and communicating with locals. The people in the Shanghai are very hardworking and motivated people full of energy. The city of 24 million had everything thing you could want or think of. Shanghai had the most beautiful gardens, cheapest food, interesting museums and the most vibrant night clubs and bars so, 4 months was not nearly enough to visit all of them.  I was amazed on how much I could do in one day and how good my Mandarin got in 4 months.

Due to the size of China and its proximity to South East Asia, finding somewhere to travel to was not a problem and with the relatively cheap train and flight fees there was no reason not to. I got the opportunity to climb the Great Wall in Beijing, hike the mountains of Xichang and explore Suzhou, the Venice of China. This was only the start of my travel experience in China.

If I there is anything I could say to someone going on exchange is to make an effort to learn about the history and culture about the country you’re in and challenge your preconceived misconceptions. Have conversations with locals including professors, students and the staff. It was a little challenging for me at first due to the language barrier but once I made the effort to learn the language everything became worth it. Additionally, place close attention to your mental health on exchange. Check resources the exchange university provides and if they are none, let the IPO know and guide you to the right resources.

Exchange can only challenge you if you allow it to. Use this freedom and independence to (safely) experiment with things you could only dream of.

Odelle Ma
Exchange Country: Scotland, United Kingdom
Host University: University of St Andrews

Discpline: LISC

On a cold January night, I found myself stranded in the birth town of Karl Marx, with only the pack on my back, a deck of cards, and no place to sleep. I never anticipated that being dropped off in Trier, Germany by a Belgian huntsman while hitchhiking across Europe was a situation that I would find myself in during my time on exchange. To provide some context, while studying at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, I participated in the university's charity hitchhike race, where students raise money for their chosen charities by hitchhiking from Scotland to Prague. This exciting, exhausting, and slightly crazy race was just one of many amazing experiences that I cherish from my time at St Andrews.

By taking the courageous first step of applying to exchange and then hopping on a plane across the pond, I opened myself up to opportunities I never imagined existed. Through joining the St Andrews Mountaineering Club, I hiked all over Scotland, rock-climbed caves in Greece, and ran trails in the Andalucian mountains. By playing viola in the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, I was able to collaborate with professional classical musicians, record for a documentary, and debut one of my own compositions. By attending lectures and tutorials, I adjusted to a new teaching style and was exposed to fascinating ideas. From travelling solo in Denmark to spending Christmas in London, I got to explore 10 European countries and embraced the unique cultures.

Out of all the adventures I embarked upon, there are two common aspects that stand out. The first is the number of incredible people that I met along the way. Some of the friends I made at St Andrews have become my closest friends and even strangers I met during my year abroad have broadened my worldview. The second is the personal growth I experienced through living abroad by myself. Exchange can be an intimidating prospect, but taking that step out of your comfort zone can be incredibly rewarding. Even after returning home, exchange continues to open many doors for me, through new connections and international opportunities. The University and quaint little town of St Andrews will always have a piece of my heart, and I'll look back on exchange as fondly as I look at sticky toffee pudding!"

Yasemin Blacklock
Exchange Country: England, United Kingdom
Host University: University of Leicester

Discipline: POLS/GNDS

​Almost a year ago to the day, I was moving into my residence at the University of Leicester, by myself (spare the two rather overstuffed bags with me). The stress of packing and moving to a different country had me looking for excuses to cancel my trip last minute, but luckily I didn’t let it get the best of me. Despite consistently looking the wrong way before crossing the street and awkwardly trying to figure out what shopkeepers meant when they said “You alright?” as I entered a store, within a few days I was settled into my new English life.

I can honestly say spending one semester away from Queen’s may have been the rewarding part of being a Gael. I had such an incredible time, from travelling around Europe, to meeting new classmates who all took me under their wing as soon as they heard my accent. I made deals with all my first year flat mates, I would teach them how to write a university essay if they taught me how to properly order a “cheeky nandos”. Going on exchange is a chance to reestablish yourself as a student, to make new lifelong friends, and to find your footing on otherwise shaky ground. The lessons taught abroad were not just academically rewarding, but continually enrich my everyday life.

However, the journey didn’t end as soon as I left British soil. Going on exchange not only introduced me to an international take on education, but helped me see things at Queen’s- both positive and negative- which has made my time back in Canada much more fulfilling and meaningful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about any point in the exchange process, I would be more than happy to help out- or find someone who can!

Samantha Neilson
Exchange Country: France
Host University: University Grenobles Alpes (TASSEP)

Discipline: LISC

​Ever since high school, going on exchange during my university career had been part of my plan. I began my international journey in second year, digging through all the information that was thrown at me and trying to find a host school that would complement my degree. At times it was overwhelming, and most definitely confusing, but in the end I decided that I wanted to spend my semester abroad in France. Looking back, I don’t think I could’ve made a better decision.

My host school was l’Université Grenoble Alpes, a French-speaking university in southeastern France. Grenoble as a town was small, about the same size as Kingston, but absolutely perfect as a second home abroad. Some of my favourite memories of exchange come from lazy days spent exploring the town, skiing and hiking in the Alps that surround Grenoble, and bonding with other international students over strange French foods in the dining hall. Academically, the education system was very different in France from that in Canada. At first I found it to be slightly intimidating, but soon realized that it was a blessing in disguise. Having less school work during the semester allowed me to fully immerse myself in the French culture, travel to countless different countries in Europe, learn a bunch of new languages, and make lifelong friends.

I went on exchange hoping to learn more about European culture and improve my French speaking skills, especially since I hadn’t taken any French courses since high school. In reality, I think I learned the most about myself. I am so much more independent now than I was when I left Vancouver, even though if you had asked me a year ago I would’ve told you there was no way that was even possible. I encourage everyone to explore international opportunities! Even though my exchange experience was a complete roller-coaster ride, it was enriching in ways that I could’ve never imagined. I am so glad that exchange was part of my Queen’s experience.