Interview about Queen’s University, Kingston
An interview with Linda Zeitz
How did you find where to spend your semester abroad?
I was looking at the exchange spots that the University and especially our program offered to us. The exchange procedure to go to Canada is different than the rest, since it is not facilitated via the Faculty of Arts or the Multi-Faculty exchange program, but via the Canadian Studies Centre. I had an interview with them in January, I think. Going abroad via the Canadian Studies Centre is really nice though, as you will get more personal guidance and support from the staff there.
What were the requirements for you to go to this place?
I do not know whether there were any specific requirements regarding the grade average, but I had to submit my CV, application letter, grades and had to do an interview.
What was/is your favourite sightseeing there?
During reading week, we did a road-trip through Quebec. We visited several national parks up there and also went to Quebec City, which reminded me much more of European cities than some of the other cities I have seen in this country. We also did a whale watching cruise which was absolutely stunning. Generally, Canada is super beautiful, and it was especially nice to spend fall here, as the leaves turn extremely colourful and everything is just instantly prettier. Kingston is also (kind of) close to NYC, which is why we drove down there as well for a weekend. This city is nothing like the cities I have seen before and visiting NYC was a little childhood dream come true and therefore very special to me.
What was/is your favourite local food there?
Canada is not necessarily known for its exquisite cuisine (sorry!). They have a dish here which is called “Poutine”, and that is basically fries with a lot of gravy sauce and cheese. Eating it is kind of satisfying but you will feel a bit sick afterwards. They also have a treat called “beavertail”, which is fried dough with all kinds of sweat stuff on it and I really do like that.
Was/is there many green spaces to relax?
Kingston is at Lake Ontario, which is definitely a nice recreational area to relax.
Did/do you practice any sports there?
You can practice all kind of sports here, from Varsity sports (if you are very ambitious), to recreational activities intramurals teams, where you can just play any sports just for fun. You can also use the University’s gym for free. I joined the climbing gym here, which is something I really enjoyed.
Did/do you go out a lot? If so, where?
Apparently, Queen’s is known as the party university in the region. However, I did not really find that it compared to Groningen. There are a lot of house parties (which are usually crashed by police at 11pm, so go early) and some clubs and bars. Every Wednesday, there is karaoke night, where a lot of exchange students gather. Unfortunately, it is a lot more expensive to party here than it is in Europe. What was a really cool experience was homecoming whatsoever. That is the weekend of the year where alumni come back to Queen’s and meet with their peers and friends from when they were younger. For the current students, that means a huge street party where EVERYBODY is out of the houses. I have not seen anything like this before and it was nice to experience it here.
What did/do you think of the university? The location? The buildings? The teachers? The study programme?
The university is great. The campus consists of several buildings, a bit like at home, but they are all very close together. The buildings look very nice and old and prestigious from the outside, but very standard from the inside (maybe also like at home). The teachers are very friendly, and they really try their best to get to know you and create a safe and accommodating learning environment for everybody. Also, Queen’s offers an extremely wide range of different courses, so you can pick what really interests you. I have to say I enjoyed what I learned a lot these past three months.
How did/does it go financially? The accommodation? Food? Public transports?
Accommodation is more expensive than it is in Groningen, food is also expensive, especially right now when the Euro is weak. Public transport is free, you can use your student card to get around Kingston. Kingston is about Groningen’s size, so you could also buy a bike and find your way around. Using the train system in Canada is expensive, if you take flixbus instead, it is okay.
What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?
I do not think that anything about their culture was particularly surprising to me. I think most of us have been exposed to North American culture throughout their whole life through tv, books and general media anyways. Canadians are very polite and open, and they are real good small-talkers. I really like the mentality they have here.
What is the funniest word you learned in the language?
They speak English here, so I did not learn any new words. However, if you ask for the toilet here, you will get some weird looks. Ask for the washroom instead. If that counts as a new word.
What did/do you think of the workload?
I had to take five courses at once here to receive my 30 ECTS, and I have to say that that was much more workload compared to home. You really need to plan ahead here. You can still do all of the fun exchange stuff, but it is more studying that I had anticipated. However, it is easier to get good grades and pass your courses.
Did/do you meet any international students?
Many. They even had an international introduction week with hundreds of exchange students.
Gradings are given on a scale from 1-10.
Location of the University
(hard to reach <-> close by)
I live 12 minutes by bus and that is considered “far” here. Kingston is about the size of Groningen.
Infrastructure/technology in the University
(no equipment <-> advanced application)
Language requirements (English suffices <-> Official Language)
Kingston is in Ontario, and there language here is English. In Quebec, you will also get around with English, French would probably help though.
The study programme
(easy <-> difficult)
The workload is by far higher but passing and getting good grades is easier.
(informal <-> formal)
The teachers are super accommodating and nice and the environment as well as the relationships between students and teachers are very informal.
Students from Dutch universities
(few <-> a lot)
We are already 8 exchange students from Groningen alone.
(few international students <-> many international students)
That makes it easy to make friends, but harder to get in touch with locals.
Points of Interest
(not so many <-> lots of museums etc.)
I went to football and icehockey games, pumpkin picking, etc.
(only local food <-> great variety of restaurants)
I wouldn’t really know. Eating out in Canada is very expensive, so I don’t really do that.
(none <-> several natural parks/recreational parks)
Kingston itself does not have too many natural sights, but this is Canada: Everything else is stunning.
(limited <-> many options/extra courses)
Everything from running to Quidditch is available.
(limited <-> many theatres/cinemas/pubs)
There is a lot, but a bit less than in Groningen in my opinion.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Expensive, but bearable if you go to Walmart.
(difficult to find & expensive <-> easy & affordable)
The housing crisis is an ongoing problem in Kingston, but I found it easier compared to Groningen. Rooms start at 450 Euros upwards.
(difficult to acquire <-> very easy to acquire)
The Marco Polo grant is for everybody, I have an extra German student grant as well.
(expensive <-> cheap)
(expensive <-> cheap)
Free within Kingston, similar (so, expensive) to the Netherlands outside of Kingston.
(expensive <-> cheap)
Alcohol is expensive. A cheap bottle of wine starts at 10 dollars (7,50 €). But you don’t have to pay entry if you go to a house party.