Student Experiences

Hear from our students who have gone abroad through the Coordinated International Experience (CIE).


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

By Elsa Langill

From the colorful world famous houses in Nyhavn to the castles sprinkled throughout, Copenhagen is a beautiful city and has become one of my favorite places. Doing a semester abroad in Denmark has been a life changing, eye opening experience. The different style of schooling with only 2 classes per day but for 4 hours (2 hours of lecture + 2 hours of tutorial) allows you to really focus and gain a deeper understanding of the material. The tutorial sessions are very engaging and hands on. We have used specialized software and programs to design models and determine contamination risk assessments.

Besides school, getting to meet other exchange students from all over the world has led to some great friendships and memories being created. The Danish culture thrives on biking, social interaction and community, so there is always some kind of event going on at the university or in Copenhagen. DTU offers so many unique clubs and there is literally something for everyone. I enjoyed playing basketball for DTU’s women team as well as learning Danish through the free language classes offered.

Another huge benefit of being in Denmark is the easy access to other countries. By the time I return home at the end of May, I will have had been to 13 countries! With budget airlines such as Ryanair you can buy a flight to London for the cost of dinner in Vancouver.

Travelling really does force you to step outside of your comfort zone by losing sight of the familiarity of home. Most people know someone who has studied abroad and have heard the associated benefits. Honestly, for myself though, study abroad has helped me grow academically as well as personally. It has taught me about different viewpoints not only in regards to engineering but for life in general. I have learned to be more resourceful and a better problem solver (for example, what to do when your phone dies and you can’t use google translate to communicate). Overall though, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to continue my environmental engineering degree while travelling, making new friends, feeding my foodie habit, and seeing some of the beauty the world has to offer. I highly recommend study abroad to anyone.

Photo credit: Elsa Langill

Photo credit: Elsa Langill

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Justin Awrey

In Winter 2017 I studied at the University of Glasgow.  While I was expecting a semester filled with haggis and the Scottish highlands, my experience abroad turned out to be so much more.  The city of Glasgow’s slogan is “People make Glasgow”, and as I found this is absolutely true.  “Glasgwegians”, as they’re called, are some of the most friendly and easy to talk to people I’ve ever come to meet.  While Glasgow is not as glitzy as its sister city Edinburgh,  it is the perfect city for young people and more specifically students, to thrive.  The streets are filled with bars and nightclubs serving cheap drinks and the city is always alive. After living in Glasgow for 5 months, its safe to say that this city will always be special to me – even though I still can’t understand the thick Glaswegian accent.

All this being said, for myself the absolute number one best thing about going on exchange was the social aspect.  I lived in “Murano Street Student Villages” in a 12-person shared flat with one kitchen and three bathrooms.  Without a doubt, the people I met in the past 5 months are what I will miss most about my experience abroad.  The thing about going on exchange, is that the people you meet come from all around the world but come together under the common interest of exploration and travelling.  It’s safe to say that my experience abroad did not have a heavy focus on studying, but more of a focus on traveling and having fun with my like-minded roommates.

So for anyone thinking about going abroad, just do it.  You will meet so many amazing people and forge life-long friendships.  Studying abroad at the University of Glasgow is something I’ll never forget.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Kahlan Gibson

The Arc de Triomf in Barcelona. Photo credit: Maddie Wilinski (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Studying at the University of Glasgow has been one of the highlights of my university experience. The opportunity to travel and study with people from all over the globe truly makes the world feel smaller and more accessible than ever before. I had never thought about pursuing higher education or work experiences on a different continent before my exchange, but my experiences over the last five months have opened up opportunities that I will continue to pursue for the rest of my life. The University of Glasgow, in particular, was a great home for my exchange, as the city was friendly, busy, and beautiful.

Some of my top recommendations for students studying in Glasgow would be:

  1. In the second term, there is a long, multi-week break between the end of classes and exams. In the term I was abroad, the break was five weeks long. Take advantage of this time to travel for a few weeks with the people you have met during your exchange. Some of the memories I value the most are of travelling during this time. You can always study for exams when you get back to Glasgow!
  2. Take time to learn the Glaswegian accent. It is invaluable in conversing with locals, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you might begin to understand it. I always enjoyed nights in The Stand Comedy Club for a few laughs and practice with some heavy Scottish accents.
  3. If you are living in student accommodation, take advantage of your free gym membership and fitness classes at the University gym. The gym complex is state-of-the-art and massive, truly putting the student facilities at UBC to shame.
  4. It is inexpensive to fly throughout Europe, but don’t forget to stay and see the stunning highlands of Scotland as well. Choose a few weekends during the term to see the Isle of Skye or take a tour with a travel company to see some of the scattered small towns.

When I applied to CIE, I expected to spend my 5 months abroad travelling, enjoying Scotland, and meeting people from all around the world. What you can’t anticipate is how quickly a new country can begin to feel like home or the profound impact the people you meet on exchange will have on your life. I cannot express how much I would recommend the University of Glasgow to future students in the Coordinated International Experience program, as I simply could not imagine my degree without the lifelong friends and experiences I had while abroad.

Highland cow in the Isle of Skye. Photo credit: Kahlan Gibson


A shot in front of the University of Glasgow sign. Photo credit: Morgan Price (University of Adelaide)

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Jonathan Fleming

Before I went on my semester abroad, I had never done much travelling. Going on exchange to Scotland was a new experience for me, and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My semester in Scotland has been like no other. During my time abroad, I was able to travel to the Canary Islands, Ireland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain, and Portugal. Being able to see these places with friends who I met abroad was a fantastic experience. During my exchange I made lifelong friends with the people in my flat, as it was filled with other exchange students from around the world. Within the first week, I had met people from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Denmark, USA, Canada, and even other UBC students. Overall, the exchange semester was by far the best semester of my degree, and I will never forget the time I spent at the University of Glasgow.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

By Michael Sleeman

I would highly recommend to other students to participate in a term abroad at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). My term abroad allowed me to make new friends from a large number of countries and to experience a substantially different learning environment.

The public transportation and cycling infrastructure in the greater Copenhagen area is phenomenal and I was able to get everywhere I needed to quickly and with ease. I enjoy cycling and I think my favourite part of the exchange was that I was able to cycle everywhere in a reasonable amount of time (15 minutes from home to school, and 40 minutes to 1 hour to downtown Copenhagen). At one point in the semester some friends and I cycled from DTU to Helsingør Castle, which is the castle where Shakespeare’s Hamlet is set.

At Helsingør Castle (from left to right Zac Moulton, Norton Wong, and Michael Sleeman)

The majority of courses at DTU are project based. I took a total of 4 classes, with one assessed double-credit, and all gave me useful skills to put on my resume and cover letter. This was different from UBC where I would expect to take one course per term that could be included on my resume. The first class I took at DTU was a 3-week intensive course in January. The other three courses were during the regular 13 week period from February to May.

The class format at DTU is very different from UBC. All classes during the 13 week period are 4 hours long (8 hours for double credit courses), either in the morning (8:00 – 12:00) or in the afternoon (13:00 – 17:00). Four hours sounds like a long time to be in a class, but there are breaks and not all of the class is spent in lecture (most of the class is actually spent working on your project or on exercises). The schedule of the courses is very nice because everyone has lunch at the same time, making it easier to eat with your friends. It’s also easier to work on group projects because you are allotted a 4 hour time slot to work with your group.

DTU has two campuses, the main campus which is in Lyngby, and the smaller campus in Ballerup. I chose not to take any classes in Ballerup because I lived closer to Lyngby and I found the courses offered on the Lyngby campus to be more interesting.

The housing situation in Copenhagen isn’t the best. I met several students who had to stay in hotels for the first month while they tried to find housing. However, all of these students were attending universities in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). I did not meet anyone attending a university in a country other than one of the Nordic countries that was unable to find accommodation through the DTU accommodation office. I attended DTU from January to May, and apparently this time period is much quieter than the period from September to December, so students attending in the fall may have experiences different from my mine.

The DTU Lyngby campus is surrounded by many forests and Jaegersborg Dyrehave, a large park that is a UNESCO world heritage site. Having lived my whole life in Vancouver, where there is a lot of nature in and around the city, I really appreciated the large parks and the wildlife.

I have been pleased with my decision to study at DTU and I would definitely make the same decision again.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Sean MacDonald

Being able to go on exchange is a once in a life time experience. You have the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people, make connections from all around the world, and broaden your understanding of cultures and societies outside of your own. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to experience all of these things.

Studying at the University of Glasgow was extraordinary. The lectures were riveting and full of engaging content. The professors were approachable and willing to assist you in any way they could. Not to mention the school itself looked like something straight out of a Harry Potter movie. But what really made my exchange unforgettable was the people I met along the way. These people were my roommates, my study buddies, my classmates, and my travel companions. Each person I encountered during my exchange played their own unique role in shaping my entire experience. For those who are considering going to Scotland or really anywhere on exchange, my only advice would be to keep an open mind. You have the opportunity to travel all over the world and experience so many different places and cultures. Be open to trying new things, meeting new people, and stepping outside of your comfort zone. You only get this opportunity once, so make the most out of it.

A moment that comes to mind when I think about a time when I kept an open mind about something and it payed off was when a few friends and I took a trip to Norway. We were on a ferry headed towards the Lofoten Islands. We had just been living out of a car and camping for the past five days in some pretty frigid weather. As we were looking out the ferry window approaching the Lofoten Islands, each one of us fell silent. The mountains in Lofoten were caked in snow and the weather looked like it was going to burst into a full on blizzard any second; but we made the choice to drive our car off of the ferry into the great unknown. We were all wondering what we had just gotten ourselves into. We decided to drive around Lofoten for a bit before finding a camp spot for the night. As we drove, we discovered that Lofoten was absolutely magnificent. The views were spectacular. We didn’t care that the weather was reaching zero degrees, and that we had yet to find a place to sleep, we were going to enjoy our time in Lofoten to the fullest. Later that night as we were continuing to admire the splendor of Lofoten, we caught our first sighting of the northern lights. They were breathtaking, and to think that if we decided to turn around and catch the next ferry back to the mainland we would have missed the northern lights. Norway was one of the most intense, demanding, exhilarating, and rewarding travel experiences of my exchange. I often think back to it and wonder how we managed to pull that trip off; but then I realize that it was due to our open mindedness that we had such a great and memorable experience.

From Norway


From Ireland

From Scotland

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Sydney Begin

University of Glasgow Main Building – Photo credit: Sydney Begin

My experience at the University of Glasgow has been amazing. It was awesome getting to study in a beautiful castle at the 4th oldest English‐speaking university in the world, established in 1451 and older than Canada! The school had so much history. It was pretty cool to think I was attending the same university as people such as Lord Kelvin, James Watt, and Adam Smith, and where many technologies were discovered and improved upon.

It was eye opening to be immersed in the Scottish and UK culture. In an economics class I took, they used pounds instead of dollars, talked about banking in terms of EU and UK polices, and frequently moaned and groaned as the teacher talked about Brexit. There were kilts and Ceilidhs (Scottish dances), new English words, Irn‐Bru (Scottish soda), and crazy thick accents.

University of Glasgow Main Building Cloisters– Photo credit: Sydney Begin

I had the opportunity to travel to many places and countries. The train systems throughout Europe are amazing and there are very cheap flights available. This made it very easy to hop over to somewhere on the weekends and during spring break. Seeing so many different places widened my perspective and knowledge of other cultures; it was an awesome experience.

Pros about attending the University of Glasgow on an exchange is that

  • it’s a beautiful campus,
  • it’s in an English speaking country,
  • all you need for a short term (less than 6 months) study visa is an offer letter,
  • you get free health care while you’re there,
  • Glasgow Airport has flights pretty much to anywhere in Europe at good prices, it’s not crazy expensive, and you can travel by train throughout the UK easily,
  • it’s easy to get residence housing, and
  • there are tons of exchange students so you are sure to meet some other people in the same situation and who want to travel lots!


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

By Danny Yang

From my experience, the community is the most notable element about attending DTU through CIE. No matter the time or place, you will always be meeting new people and enjoying the semester together. I was very fortunate to have met amazing people in my buddy group during introduction week, helpful roommates at my dorm (pronounced “container”) in the Campus Village, and smart project partners in my classes. The Danish and the international students at DTU are all very welcoming, and you will soon find your place in the community too. I definitely enjoyed my time in Denmark and would highly recommend anyone considering a semester of exchange to choose DTU.

The Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen

I took four courses at DTU: 41271 Ship Design, 46110 Basic Aerodynamics, 62204 Manufacturing Technologies and 62643 Mechanical Vibrations. I didn’t know what to expect from each course, so here are some tips for each.

Ship Design (41271)

Ship Design is a semester long partner project in which you will design the hull shape and equip the ship with components specific to your selected project. It is unlike the design projects that I took at UBC (ex. Mech 328). Rather than approaching the design by using physics and mathematical tools, the design is largely based on statistical findings from similar ships. A significant portion of the design will be performed in NAPA, a 3D ship modeling software. Pay attention to the manuals and ask other students to figure it out together. The final exam is an oral presentation and question period about your ship. There will also be a few questions about ship design in general.

Basic Aerodynamics (46110)

Although Basic Aerodynamics is a 5 ECTS course, I thought that the work load was significantly higher. Three group assignments make up the marks for this course. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the math heavy material; the assignments rely mostly on having a good grasp of the concept and knowing how to program in MATLAB. I personally enjoyed this course because of how much I learned and how rewarding it feels to complete an assignment. The final exam is an oral presentation and question period about the final assignment.

Building 324, in which I spent many late nights working on Basic Aerodynamics

Manufacturing Technologies (62204)

Manufacturing Technologies is a self-taught online course that requires you to read the textbook and answer questions. There are two assignments that require research beyond the textbook and apply some critical thinking to write an essay. Since it is an online course, I found it difficult to keep with the schedule when other classes got busy. There is no final exam for this course.

Mechanical Vibrations (62643)

Mechanical Vibrations is a standard structure course in which the professor delivers both PowerPoint and whiteboard lectures. There are some assigned questions from the textbook and a project that covers the entire course material, both of which are done in groups of three. The professor will make the structure of the final oral exam very clear.

Although the courses were challenging, I enjoyed every one of them. I have no doubt that future students attending DTU will enjoy their studies and experiences as well. I intend to visit the campus and explore more of Denmark in the future!


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

By Alex Caplan

In Copenhagen. Photo credit: Alex Caplan

It is not easy putting my experiences into words. There have been ups and downs of emotions, I have visited many countries and I have met a great number of people.

I called Denmark home for 5 months and it will forever be dear to me. It is quaint and beautiful. I was lucky enough to take a road-trip in which I experienced more than just Copenhagen. The countryside is peaceful and quiet. The seas (North and Baltic) are blue and fresh. The sand is white and crisp. The people look happy.

Copenhagen is a busy city, but it is not too big. There are bicycles passing at every moment, so don’t step onto the bike path. If you do, a cyclist will politely alert you with their bell. I never bought a bike, but that is something I will do when I return here one day. I lived on campus and I took the bus/train to get into the city. I think the reason I chose not to buy a bike was because the winter is cold, dark and wet. You don’t see many people out during winter. The Danes stay inside, light their candles and enjoy a warm drink with their families. I eventually adopted that lifestyle and understood the meaning of ‘hygge’. As the seasons pass and the sun begins to shine, that was when I realized how lucky I truly was. There are many parks to visit and get lost in. Life is present and the smiles around are radiant. My favourite times in Copenhagen were when I would sit in a park, have a picnic with friends and people watch. I felt present with the city and accepted amongst the people.

I would most definitely visit and live in Denmark again. I was extremely impressed with their socioeconomic system. It is rather similar to Canada’s, but I’d say that they are ahead of the game in their progressive nature. No one ever looked rush. Sure, the occasional cyclist would zip by unannounced, but in general, it didn’t seem like anyone was very stressed. Most people keep to themselves, but it is a good thing. No one is in anyone else’s business, as it should be.

There isn’t a demand for performance or an unnecessary pressure. They simply live life.

There is so much more to explore in this wonderful country, but my time is up. I hope many more get the opportunity to experience what I have been fortunate enough to have had.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

By Janelle Somerville

Taken on the Isle of Seil on a day trip in January. Photo credit: Maddy Brown

Going on exchange has been such a unique way to integrate into a new culture, expose myself to new academic opportunities and make friends from all around the world. Over my four months in Scotland I learned what a Ceilidh is, had a Robbie Burns night dinner and hiked in the highlands. It was also an incredible chance, mostly thanks to Skyscanner, to explore other parts of Europe. Every weekend I would travel with other exchange students to a different country, exploring Morocco, Spain, Germany, Denmark and many more. I was reunited with other UBC students on exchange, meeting friends in Amsterdam and Belgium. It has also been such an opportunity to compare life in Canada to life in another country. Rather than simply travelling through a place it becomes your home. I have been exposed to completely different academic approach from that at UBC and learn from professors with different backgrounds. Overall, this has been an unforgettable term that I would highly recommend any student integrate into their degree.

A quick stop at Glencoe during a road trip to the Isle of Skye. Photo credit: Andrew Steiner


Sitting on the terrace of our Airbnb in Tangier, Morocco in March. Photo credit: Katie Jackson


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

by Candy Lin

Doing an academic exchange through CIE at the University of Glasgow has been a great experience. CIE makes the process of exchange very fluid as credit transfer is outlined on the website. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of courses at the University of Glasgow. There is less material covered making it easier to master and remember key concepts. Also, I found many engineering courses did not have weekly assignments (homework) as all are based on the final exam and maybe a midterm exam or assignment.

Here are my tips/suggestions when attending the University of Glasgow:

  1. Prepare for the first week. You may need to e-mail each separately each faculty member separately to ask for permission to attend certain courses. My courses were not finalized until the end of week one.
  2. Sign up for orientation events in advance.
  3. Really take the time to travel!
  4. Take advantage of the opportunity to attend events occurring on campus.
  5. Apply to Murano for housing. The quality of the flat is equal to that of first year residences of UBC (not great) but it is a great chance to meet a lot international students from around the world

Overall, Glasgow is a friendly city and should be considered if you have travelling on your mind. From Glasgow, you can bus up to the highlands, train down to England and fly, for great prices, to other surrounding countries.  Travel was my favourite part of exchange.

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

by Henry He

Hi, I am Henry He and I studied at DTU in the winter semester in 2017. During the five month semester at DTU, I took Ship Design, Manufacturing Technology and Internal Combustion Engine Experimental Study.

All courses available in English were actually graduate courses, which provided a distinct experience compared with UBC. Each class was usually 4 hours. The first 2 hours were for lectures while the remaining time was for questions and assignments. The QA section was everyone’s favourite because professors would stay and answer student questions right away.

The accommodations in DTU was quite interesting and we call it ‘container’. The container was a bungalow made of wood, painted red. Ten exchange students shared a container and each of us had our own room. I was in container B, and every Wednesday we each took turns cooking. We enjoyed food from France, Poland, America, India, Romania and China. Each Wednesday evening, we had awesome dinner and played games from all over the world.

I also traveled around Europe when I was not busy. I visited France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, and many other countries. The cultures are so different and the world I see is no longer the world I knew. The feeling is amazing. Here are a few photos of the places that I visited.

Ice land Blue lagoon (Photo credit: Henry He)

Paris Night View (Photo credit: Henry He)

Italy, Pompeii (Photo credit: Henry He)

Czech, Prague (Photo credit: Henry He)

Hungary, Budapest (Photo credit: Henry He)

Spain, Barcelona (Photo credit: Henry He)

I recommend students to go on an exchange term. It is not easy to find an opportunity to live in another place for an extended term with a completely different culture from what you are familiar with, especially after graduation. You will benefit from an immersive, multicultural experience in all aspects of your life.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – 2017 Spring Semester

by Zac Mouton

Hiking in Faroe Islands (Photo Credit: Zac Moulton)

In the Spring of 2017, I spent a semester studying at Technical University of Denmark through UBC’s CIE program. I would recommend studying at DTU to anyone, for reasons both inside and outside of the classroom.

Inside the classroom, there are a couple interesting concepts that differentiate DTU from UBC. Firstly, the written exam format is a novel concept that I am glad I experienced: 4-hour exams with “all aid,” which means you can bring in your laptop containing all your textbooks, lecture notes, and MATLAB scripts from the semester. What I loved about this is how similar it made the problem-solving process to an actual engineering job in industry, based from my co-op experience. Also, throughout the semester, a trend I noticed across multiple courses is the tendency to encourage experimentation with tools such as MATLAB and Maple in whatever way students saw fit, in order to arrive at solutions rather than to strictly require certain scripts or documents as deliverables, as we often see in UBC courses.

Outside the classroom, student life at DTU is incredibly enriching. I had nine roommates, all from different countries, none of which were Denmark. It was amazing to see how members of different cultures could bring their perspectives to the table and create a community that made use of the best of them. Also, the opportunity for travelling from Denmark is tremendous since it is very cheap to fly anywhere in Europe from Copenhagen, not to mention the fact that Copenhagen is one of only a handful of airports that offers flights to the world’s most beautiful region, the Faroe Islands.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

by Tom Lee

My CIE experience allowed for a fully immersive cultural experience of Scotland and Europe as a whole. I was able to explore rural areas, such as the gently rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands to the heavily urbanized cities like London. Being on exchange, I was immersed with opportunities for cultural experiences. Even being in class was entirely different, and it was interesting to learn the differences between a Scottish university and UBC.

As an avid traveller, being in Europe was an amazing experience. I found myself on cheap flights on weekends, travelling to places such as Iceland, Denmark, Spain, and Morocco to name a few of the main trips. There’s no better feeling than flying out after your Friday classes and flying in a few hours before your first class on Monday! For me, the entire exchange seemed to fly by. It was an amazing opportunity to meet people from all around the world and indulge in unique culinary experiences from across Europe!


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

by Nicholas Gerritsen

Ever since I was accepted to UBC I’ve dreamed of going on an exchange. I am so happy that I got the chance to actually do this through CIE, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who is considering it. While your experience will be very different depending on where in the world you go, it’ll be unforgettable nonetheless. I chose to go to Glasgow, Scotland. The semester was so much better than I ever could’ve imagined! I ended up in a 12-person flat with all international students. The 12 of us (5 Canadians, 4 Americans, and 3 Australians) quickly became family, and we already have plans for a 5 year reunion in Brazil (a Rio-Union)! Other than my flatmates, I met many other people from all over the world! In Glasgow, they have a saying… “People make Glasgow”. In my exchange, this couldn’t have been more true.

A picture of our international flat, joined by our close friends! (Photo Credit: Nick Gerritsen)

This exchange has given me the opportunity to do lots of travelling throughout Europe, and that was absolutely amazing. I had the chance to try my hand at solo travel (which I would recommend to anyone), as well as travelling with a partner and in large groups. By the time I was preparing to return to Canada, I had experienced a small part of 18 different European countries.

Four of our flatmates exploring Edinburgh Castle (Photo Credit: Nick Gerritsen)

Posing in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, on St. Patrick’s Day (Photo Credit: Mary Whitten)

In terms of the University of Glasgow, the sheer age of the school is amazing to me. Founded in 1451 (41 years before Columbus “discovered” the Americas), the history within the school is incredible, from Adam Smith to James Watt. The campus is beautiful, with its Hogwarts-esque clock tower and beautiful lecture halls. The format of the courses was a bit of a surprise to me, as most of the classes were evaluated based on 100% final. This put lots of pressure on the exam period, but left more time to bond with flatmates and travel during the semester. It’s been a truly unbelievable semester!

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Glasgow – 2017 Spring Semester

by Gunes (Jeffrey) Degirmenci

Exploring some castles in Ayr, Scotland (Photo Credit: Maddy Fontaine)

Deciding to do an exchange was undoubtedly a great decision. Scotland was not anywhere I ever envisioned myself living for half a year, but I am very glad I took the leap and went through with it! It is an extraordinary and beautiful landscape, the likes of which I have never seen. But more importantly, the people make Glasgow! I have made many good friends through this experience, from many corners of the globe.

If you decide to do this exchange (and you should!), my only recommendation is that you do as much as possible. The semester will come and go before you know it! Also, be careful not to get stuck in the “international bubble.” It’s easy to spend all your time with the other foreign students on exchange, but don’t shy away from joining a club and meeting some locals. After all, locals would know the area better than anyone, and they may show you a different side of wherever you choose to go.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the University of Queensland (UQ) – 2017 Spring Semester

by Keegan Smith

Going to Australia for a term abroad was great! I experienced a whole new country while completing courses for my degree. The course load at UQ is generally 4 courses and they are predominantly group work based. Joining the exchange student group at UQ was a great way to make new friends and have fun outside of classes.


  • Make sure to take advantage of long weekends and low work periods during your semester by going for a trip either locally or to another state.
  • Getting around the city of Brisbane is pretty easy with transit.
  • If you want to have more freedom and travel beyond Brisbane, it is definitely worth it to purchase a cheap car and go to coastal towns on the weekends. When you’re leaving Australia, sell your car and you should come out pretty much even.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at ETH Zurich – 2016 Autumn Semester

by Ian Thompson

At the Swiss Mountains. Photo credit: Ian Thompson

I would highly recommend other engineering students to participate in a CIE term at ETH Zurich as a way to make the most of their degree. Firstly, travelling abroad and having the opportunity to study in a new city at a new school brought me an immense change of perspective. Having never lived outside of my hometown of Vancouver, moving to Switzerland showed me a completely different way of life, shaping and expanding my worldview. Surrounded by new languages, food and cultural traditions, it was exciting to make a temporary home in a wildly different city. I had the opportunity to see more new countries, cities, and cultures during my stay than I had in the previous 21 years of my life! The academic experience at ETH Zurich was equally exciting and perspective-shifting. The chance to take on master’s courses was challenging and exciting. I was able to connect with my professors and peers and learn about exciting opportunities in my field. Throughout all my courses, I was exposed to some of the leading research topics from machine learning to neuroscience. More amazingly, the professors exposing me to these topics were all world leading researchers in these fields, coming from institutions like MIT, Stanford and Harvard. Overall the caliber of instruction and research at ETH is phenomenal. As a fourth year student, and at a time when academic inspiration might have been reaching a low, my exchanged refreshed my perspective towards my field and provided me the motivation to learn and explore.

Photo credit: Ian Thompson

Ian’s Top 5 Insider ETH Tips:

  1. Go try out Super-Kondi Body Attack, an amazing dance-fitness craze that the Swiss love and will surely leave you exhausted. It’s free in the student gym multiple times a week (all student gym facilities are free).
  2. Be aware of the timing of ETH exams and be ready to either take them early (during the last week of classes), or while you are back at UBC. It’s a bit tougher than doing it at the normal time, but stay on top of it and you’ll be ok.
  3. Electrical and Mechanical Engineers get one free coffee and one free beer per day from their student society! This really blew my mind, the Swiss have a lot of money to throw around.
  4. For Engphys Students: It’s really easy to switch in and out of courses at ETH. You can take the first few weeks to sample a few classes and decide what you will take. Just make sure that the courses will actually count for UBC credit!
  5. The fact that you don’t know people in your classes is a good thing. Make friends with those around you, and go to the professors and TAs for help. They are all super nice and you might even make a coveted Swiss friend.

Photo credit: Ian Thompson

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at ETH Zurich – 2016 Autumn Semester

by Lap-Tak Chu

Photo credit: Lap-Tak Chu

Doing my academic exchange at ETH Zurich was definitely an amazing experience for me. It not only opened new perspectives on engineering education in one of the leading institutions in the world but being surrounded by many other international students helped foster connections with people from different cultures around the world. I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and working with them to tackle tough problems and challenges. We learned about cutting edge research going on today in the courses (machine learning, computer vision and biomedical imaging) and the applications and impact it has on the real world.

One of the things I found to be extremely different and very positive was the amazing precision and access to public transportation. Compared to Vancouver, trains and buses in Zurich were almost always on time. Another difference is the cost of living. The cost of living was very high compared to Vancouver, although there are definitely some ways to save money including eating at the school cafeteria (Mensa) or shopping at low cost grocery stores. One thing I do recommend is going on exchange to ETH in the second semester as this allows you to travel in January (to experience Winter in Switzerland and Europe) and to travel around Europe after classes end for the summer. The best thing about this exchange for me was the opportunity to meet new people from all around the world. It is amazing to be able to say that you can travel pretty much anywhere and be able to meet up with all these friends you have shared such amazing experiences with.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at ETH Zurich – 2016 Autumn Semester

by Shahriar Noroozi Zadeh

Photo credit: Candice Ip. (From Left to right: Candice Ip, Shahriar Noroozi Zadeh, Ian Thompson, Lap-Tak Chu, Amir Hossein Rafaee Afshar Ghezelbash)

As part of UBC’s Applied Science Coordinated International Experience (CIE) program, I studied at ETH Zürich for the Autumn term of 2016. My studies at ETH involved application of electrical engineering and computer science in different biomedical engineering fields such as medical imaging. In this intriguing experience, I focused on subjects in machine learning, biomedical imaging, computer vision, and completed a term-long cross-disciplinary research in medicine and engineering. Studying in one of the leading universities in the world and learning from the leading professionals of these fields made this experience invaluable.

The study experience at ETH was different from UBC in the way that the expectation is put on the students to keep up with the material. At UBC not only all assignments contribute to your final grade, there is also at least 1 midterm exam that divides the work throughout the term. Whereas, at ETH, since there are no deadlines throughout the term, it is your responsibility to keep up with the course. I believe this was a great experience to get a sense of a different studying perspective, and it taught me great lessons for planning when there are no deadlines. Tutorials also play an important role in different courses as the lectures give more of an overview of the application of what you are learning, and the tutorials are where you get to challenge yourself with exercises and theory.
Lastly, I have to add that Switzerland is a very beautiful country with a great rich culture. During my stay, I travelled to different cities from Geneva and Lausanne to the capital at Bern. The beautiful landscape and the nice people made this entire experience unforgettable for me and made me wish my stay was longer.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark – 2016 Autumn Semester

by Stefan Sander-Green

UBC students Bryden Fogelman, Megan Thomsen and Stefan Sander-Green in Nyhavn, Copenhagen while on exchange at DTU. Photo credit: Candice Ip.

UBC students Bryden Fogelman, Megan Thomsen and Stefan Sander-Green in Nyhavn, Copenhagen while on exchange at DTU. Photo credit: Candice Ip.

I would highly recommend studying at DTU through CIE. It is a great way to get the most out of your degree and tailor it to your interests. DTU offers many courses that were not available to me at UBC. For example, I am interested in renewable energy and was able to take courses like ‘wind turbine technology and aerodynamics’ and ‘development of solar energy systems’ to name just two. My friends and classmates who attended DTU were also able to find classes specific to their interests. In these classes I was able to apply the theory and knowledge from my studies at UBC to contribute to group projects with students from around the world.  And don’t worry, in my experience everyone in Denmark speaks perfect English. Or, if you are interested, free Danish language classes are offered.


Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark – 2017 Winter

by Elsa Langill

Read about Elsa’s CIE experience on the UBC ENVE website here.

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience in Greenland – 2016 Winter

by Olina Chang

Check out this blog from a student who took Artic Infrastructure and Society at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Greenland: Snippets of Adventure

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark – 2016 Arctic Semester

by Laura Fredrickson


Photo credit: Helene Nes (Masters student at DTU). UBC students who participated in the Arctic Semester are: Laura Fredrickson (back row, furtherest on the left), Ivo Handjiyski (back row, second on the left) and Olina Chang (front, right side)

Have you ever thought about building a road in an area with thawing permafrost? How about transporting water to and from a treatment facility under extreme weather conditions? These are just a few of the trials that engineers face working in the Arctic, and a big part of what makes the Arctic Semester offered through CIE’s partnership with DTU such an invaluable opportunity.

The Arctic Semester is a unique experience that introduces students to the extreme and harsh environmental conditions and social challenges that engineers must overcome. The integrative learning experience pairs university style lectures with hands-on field experience with an emphasis on discussion and peer-to-peer learning. There is a strong focus on creating long term sustainable solutions for the Arctic.

In addition to the academic learning experience offered by this experience, there is a great opportunity to create an international group of friends and colleagues, as well as expand your cultural knowledge. The diversity amongst the students in this program is extremely valuable. With three Canadians, three French, one Swiss, one Norwegian, one Icelander, one Slovakian and one Greenlander – new perspectives and ideas are brought to the table. In addition to working together in a classroom setting, we have shared our cultural traditions and stories with each other, and taken part in community events such as the 2016 Arctic Sounds Music Festival. I am truly grateful for the memories that I have created during this exchange and I can’t wait to share what I have learnt with all of my friends and family upon returning to Canada.

Read Laura and Ivo’s experience also posted on the UBC ENVE site here.

Coordinated International Experience (CIE): A Student Experience at the Technical University of Denmark – 2016 Winter

by Max Lauretta

Photo credit: Max Lauretta (pictured third from the right)

Photo credit: Max Lauretta (pictured third from the right)

As I sit in the airport, contemplating on the last six months that I have spent in Europe, the first thing I think of is that it was an incredible opportunity and that I am fortunate to have been able to study abroad. Studying overseas, especially at a university such as the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), gives a vastly different perspective to engineering studies. Living and studying abroad has provided a new perspective on the world and how you can experience another culture in such a way that it can influence all your decisions from that point on.

The Danish approach to studying engineering specifically at DTU is that students attend one four-hour class per week, normally involving a two-hour lecture and two hours in the class working on practice problems with the help of a tutorial teacher. Furthermore, the majority of grading for Danish courses is in the form of group projects given at the beginning of the semester, and the exam at the end of the semester is usually based on this term project. The exams can range from different formats such as: four hour written exams with all aid (all aid meaning that you can use any aid at your disposal such as your computer that is not connected to the internet and textbooks that you might need), oral exams (which is a presentation where the professor asks questions about the course material), or as said before, the final term report counted as the final exam which usually involves a questionnaire type situation.

In terms of professional development, my CIE experience at DTU has been amazing, from adventuring throughout the many countries in Europe to experiencing DTU and Denmark. For students that are interested in entrepreneurship and designing new products that can go to market, there is a facility called “Skylab” at DTU where students can go with their engineering ideas and create a prototype with the machines and 3D printers which they can then take to industry. One of the best parts about studying at DTU is that its a technical university so you can meet students from around the world that are in many different engineering disciplines, from Bachelor to Master students. Another advantage is that being in a country such as Denmark that is very efficiently organized socially and economically, it allows for many comparisons to be made between Denmark and Canada. DTU has many opportunities for students in the forms of workshops and seminars, where students can be exposed to a variety of different engineering disciplines from all over Europe.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Applied Science
5000-2332 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
UBC Engineering Co-op Program
2385 East Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: 604-822-3022
Fax: 604-822-3449

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia