Ok so Trent…. Where to start?! I will try and make this as useful as possible for anyone considering this University. The uni is located in Peterborough, a very small city about an hour and a half outside of Toronto. The city doesn’t offer a huge amount to do though there are some great bars and restaurants, and a couple of clubs (what else could you possibly need?). Peterborough, and Trent’s real attraction is its physical location. Trent is situated either side of the Otonabee river (two colleges on each). During the end of the summer months and then the beginning of fall it really is a beautiful place to be. It gets a little harder when the snow starts to fall around January, but it’s safe to say the Canadians are a little better prepared than the Brits when it comes to the white stuff.
Being so close to Toronto is fantastic. Firstly, you get to enjoy Toronto as a city which is really a smaller, friendlier version of NYC. Second, once you’re there it is quick, easy and cheap to travel around North America. I booked a bus to Chicago, flights to San Francisco and back to Toronto for around $300 (approx. £200). A return to NYC is around $80, and you can get there in approx. 10 hours by bus (or for $150 you can fly in an hour and a half).
Peterborough itself is also easy to travel around and from. You will receive a free bus pass for city transit at the beginning of the year. There is a pretty big mall, a hockey rink and other places to explore around the city. You can get to Ottawa on the bus for a small fare in around 6 hours, which is just down the road to those who are Canadian born and bred. The music and art scene in Peterborough is pretty big – a lot of bands travel to Pete to perform.
But back to the beginning of the story! If I was in your position at the moment the thing that would really make up my mind is TIP Camp. Trent’s International Program organises a trip to a traditional Canadian camp. This means log cabins, camp fires, water sports, hiking and other recreational activities. You will meet most of the international lot who are on exchange like yourself, and those who are starting their first of four years at the university. The location is absolutely breathtaking, and so is the company. Run by a mixture of Canadian and International students, everyone is so very keen to make you feel welcome. You will make fast friends with the most amazing people, and they will become your family for the next 9 months. I am still in contact with so many of my wonderful international Trent friends. During TIP you also prepare for starting at the uni. You will talk about grade conversions, courses, enrolling, living on campus and off, medical insurance; pretty much everything that might be on your mind will be addressed.
I lived in a house downtown with five other Canadian girls. It was first of all a lot cheaper than living on campus – I paid £3000 for 10 months, and that included all of my bills. I LOVED it (capitals intended). One of the girls has already been over to visit me in the UK. They were all so welcoming and excited to have an international student in their house! I visited two of their homes. The first was in Gananoque, a little Canadian town, where I went quad-biking on Thanksgiving through the woods with my friend’s family. The second was a trip to Fonthill which is just outside of Niagara Falls – we went to America for wings one night, need I say more?
One of my favourite Canadian experiences was the Hockey. The rumors are true – they’re totally mad for it. The Peterborough Petes play a few times a week at the local stadium, or you can take a trip to Toronto to see the national teams play. It’s definitely something you have to experience. I saw the Rangers play at Madison Square Garden and the atmosphere was electric (until they lost).
My classes were fantastic. You don’t have to study Canada at all, they have a number of classes on American literature or history that are run by the most amazing professors. Saying that, Canadian history and culture is incredibly interesting and Trent has a very strong Canadian Studies department. You could do a class in Indigenous Dance if you fancied it! Often professors set up their courses so a percentage of your grade is “participation” – which are easy marks. The university also offers an A+ grade. Which, if you’re after a good academic grade to boost your first and second year marks at UoB, can really help. The work is generally easier but there is a lot more of it.
There is also a free state of the art gym on campus. It overlooks the river with floor-to ceiling windows, making the whole gym-experience a bit more enjoyable.
It might be important to note that Trent’s campus is not located downtown. It is a free 20-minute bus journey. The buses run every five minutes.
A quick list of places to go:
-Spanky’s bar. As the name would suggest, it is amazing
-Hot Belly Mummas – food is amazing -
Petes game – always amazing (not necessarily the team, but the overall experience)
-New York City – it’s amazing, and so easy to get to
-Junction club – kind of like Liquid. It is amazing when you’re horribly drunk, and definitely worth a visit or a hundred.
Ooo- as I am sure you know, the drinking age is 19 and “liquor” from the “liquor store” is very cheap.
I could go on for a while but I suppose you need to discover it all for yourself!
During my second semester I also completed a four month internship for Arthur newspaper, a student run publication. They love it when internationals contribute, so if you’re a budding writer or journalist (or like production and design) drop them a visit. The editors are great and very friendly; they became some of my best friends on my year abroad.
On one final note, to those of you with boyfriends or girlfriends at home: I was with my boyfriend when I left for Pete and we’re still together now – he only visited once, and I went home Christmas, but it is doable. Don’t let this aspect of your year abroad worry you too much. It was the one thing that I was truly nervous about when I left for Canada, and I quickly learned that there’s no reason to be frightened of leaving someone at home for a few months (or so).
I could blabber on about my year abroad forever but I’ll stop here. If you have any questions or worries or concerns let me know – my uni email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can email more general questions to email@example.com, where I can pass on any inquiries to other fourth-years.