Exchange Report

University of Alberta
Adery Oh | Professional Accounting | Operations Management
After a real long flight I arrived Edmonton International Airport around midnight and spent a night at my buddy’s
place. The next day he took me to I-House and after all those check-in procedures we went to an outlet and get
those bedding stuff before having our dinner at a roof-top bar located on Whyte Ave. The day after I managed to
meet up with Tom and he brought me along to get a SIM card as well as some groceries at Safeway. Class started
right away (as my arrival was quite late compared to other students) and the atmosphere was good, not to mention
the hardware is superb in business building (spacious classroom with advanced equipment). Despite the fact that I
skipped the 3-day orientation and sneaked out halfway at the 1-day orientation, I found it easy to meet quite a lot of
new friends either from class, I-House events, functions from other social clubs, or even as simple as the server at
September was also a crazy one in which I spent
almost every weekend out to visit some
places/attractions as well as exploring the groceries
shopping options. You can always visit the City
Government website to find out something
interesting to do or go to. There’s also a day where
you can visit a lot of attractions in Edmonton for
free. For me I’ve tried Fort Edmonton Park, Muttart
Conservatory, Jasper & Banff National Park and
Calgary in September. While the former two were
average, Jasper and Banff National Park were a mustgo. You will definitely be amazed by the beauty of
nature and probably gain some kind of life
inspirations there :p However, it’s kind of far away
from the university (it’s near the border between
British Columbia and Alberta). I was lucky enough
to have joined a group of friends who can drive
and experienced an awesome road trip with
them. As far as I know there’s Greyhound bus
which can take you there but I ain’t too sure
about that. Regardless of what, for the
breathtaking views of Rocky Mountains, Louise &
Moraine Lake, Banff Gondola etc, you should try
your best to get there!
October was a disaster for me as I had quizzes and midterms every week apart from tons of assignments. I spent
most of the time hardcore studying as well as jobs searching. However, the weekends were still there for me to
experience something new such as the Canadian Thanksgiving as well as the Golden Bears Hockey Game. I had the
symbolic turkey meal and got to know more about the traditions through joining the International Friendship
Group and spent the night at James’ Place; another one at the Celebrity Church; and the Thanksgiving event held in
I-House. Besides, I managed to watch one of the Canadian favorite sports live through the free tickets distributed by
the International Center. Despite it was a college level the game pretty much tensed up my nerves and the
supporters were just crazy; something you will definitely enjoy.
November was a month where I rushed all my reports although
there was a long holiday in the middle where I flew out to the
East Coast of the States. It’s a good experience exploring New
York, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia after all the
dreadful midterms. It was a pretty short 6-day tour however I
managed to visit lots of attractions like the Empire State
Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the White House,
Niagara Falls, Harvard and MIT, etc. Lots of fun memories
created there and I’d say it’s a very different experience
compared to Edmonton. Also I managed to go skiing with bunch
of friends who gave me free lessons and you gotta love this
sport! So fun!
Entering the last month of my exchange journey besides preparing all the finals I filled up my schedules with lots of
farewell dinners and stuff before leaving to the West Coast of United States. It was kind of a hurry as I had so many
things undone and it’s just depressing to know when you weren’t ready for leaving. Whatsoever, this time I visited
L.A. Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Francisco. Each place is just so different from the other. Gotta love L.A. for
the happening Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Observatory where you can get a superb view of the whole L.A. city as
well as the “Hollywood” sign, the sun shower alongside Santa Monica beach ; Las Vegas for all those dazzling neon
view, and San Francisco, just so much a livable city. For Grand Canyon I went to the West Rim one (the one with
Skywalk) and managed to stay overnight at the Hualapai Ranch where there’s nothing over there but a perfect night
sky that it looks like it’s covered by a dome and billions of sparkling stars appear to be so close to you; then
suddenly a bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky and then fades out a little less and only you realize it’s
the shooting star; man this is incredible.
VISA Procedures
For me as a Malaysian (International Student) I had to apply for a temporary resident visa in order to study in
Canada. You would need a study permit if you are studying there for more than 6 months; otherwise a temporary
resident visa should be fine. As far as I know, HKSAR passport holder doesn’t need to apply for one so cheers! If you
are planning to visit the States you may consider applying a US Visa. It took me around 2 weeks to get one.
Orientation Activities
There’s a mandatory 3-day orientation held in late-August; however exchange student can opt for a 1-day
orientation held right before the semester starts. Well for me I kind of skipped both due to my late arrival so I
couldn’t comment much on it but everything will be fine as the time passes by so don’t worry too much about it.
There’s also a mobile app named “My UAlberta” where you can google map the buildings on campus so that you
know where your class is.
International Services & Activities
The International Center is the medium where you can get all sort of help from. Pre-exchange, during your
exchange or even post-exchange, the staff are just nice and helpful. Apart from organizing events for international
students in which you can get those updates by following their Facebook page or so; the International Center also
offers the “peer program” where you can get paired up with an assigned buddy and the person will be providing the
assistance you need (as simple as cooking skills lesson) during your stay. I wasn’t signed up for this program; instead
I was in the “BEA Exchange Buddy” program. From what I know is that you need to sign up for the “peer program”
online and it’s advised that you do it earlier as they may encounter short of buddies.
There are plenty of on-campus housing choices you can choose from:
International House (“I-House”)
This was where I lived throughout the semester and I’d give a rating of 10/10. Inferred from its name it’s a place
where residents were constituted from people all around the world and the vision of it is to embrace diversity and
cultural understanding. Lots of events (to give you an idea, it’s an average of 2 events each week and I believe you’d
definitely find some events that fit you interests) ranging from a simple potluck to a grand ballroom welcoming
party will be held throughout the semester which give you great opportunities to know people from different
backgrounds. Besides loving the concept, I-House offers single room (mini-fridge included) with private bathroom.
On each floor there’s also a laundry room, shared kitchen and a common room. As of its location, it is just opposite
the law building where you can use it to connect to other buildings such as HUB Mall, Business Building, and
University Bus & LRT station (trust me it comes in handy when the winter approaches). Also with a 2-min walking
distance you can find a convenient store “Mac’s” as well as a pub “Hudson’s”.
Lister Hall
Unless you are studying in engineering or anything other than business and arts, this is the choice that you do not
want to consider in terms of distance to class. And this will be a determining factor during the winter season where
you will be exposed to an average of -25 degree Celsius of temperature. However, the facility is pretty the same as IHouse and the better, you can get to know lots of Canadian locals here. One point to be mentioned is that Lister is
the only housing that offers compulsory meal plan. If you are like me know nothing about cooking, this might be
appealing to you. On the other side, as the meal plan is compulsory, you may have to pay more for the
accommodation fees beforehand in order to get your “OneCard” topped up. “OneCard” is something like a
combination of HKUST card and Octopus card. So whenever you go to any approved on-campus restaurants, you
can just flash your OneCard to pay for your meals and the payment will be deducted directly from your meal plan
HUB Mall
The best location amongst the choices; coming to an extreme, if you only have classes in the business building or
the tory building, you can go to classes with just a T-shirt and sandals even in the winter season. Living in the HUB
Mall, you can choose between a single studio (kitchen and private bathroom included) and a 4-people-shared
apartment (where you still get a private room). Considering it is located in the Mall, you can easily get access to
food as there are plenty of restaurants there. The only thing is that it is unfurnished, that means you will have to
buy your own mattress, table, etc. Apart from that it may look a bit old and yellowish considering its age.
Pinecrest/Tamarack House
It located right behind I-House and it was newly built (in 2013). It is a 4-people-shared apartment where you can get
your own private room. I’d say it’s a pretty good choice too as it is very new and the location is pretty convenient.
Academic Courses
You use BearTracks ( for course enrollment, grade checking and transcript
requesting. It is similar to the SIS we use in HKUST except that it doesn’t have a wait-list system.
You use BlackBoard ( or Eclass ( for course-related
checking such as attachments, announcements and grades. It is similar to our LMES. You may not be required to
use both, it depends on the courses you take and the system the professors use for the courses.
I have taken 5 courses there: ACCTG418, ACCTG456, OM410, OM461, CHINA407
ACCTG418 Advanced Financial Accounting Instructor: Loretta Amerongen
As an Accounting major transferring in Fall semester you will be required to take this course. It is a super difficult
course I’d say due to the teaching methods as well as the difficulty of materials. No textbooks required, the only
thing you need is the course package sold on the first day of class (around $30). Attending classes is no fun at all as
the professor only visualize its e-notes to the projector and all you need to do is copy what she wrote on the notes to
your paper-notes. However the exercises are extremely helpful for you to gain a better understanding of the
concepts so prepare to spend countless hours on the exercises. Professor maintains high professionalism, always
helpful over emails or in-person enquiries and lenient on distributing grades.
ACCTG456 Assurance on Financial Information Instructor: Erin Marshall
A professional and hot professor always carrying a beautiful smile. Attending classes is helpful over the exams as the
professor will cover in-class discussion into the exams. Textbook is only required when you have difficulty
understanding the classes or you skip quite a lot of classes; otherwise, the power point slides and in-class
assignments should be enough. Acceptable difficulty as everything makes perfect sense despite a heavy workload (4
in-class assignments, 1 mid-term, 1 cumulative final and a group report)
OM410 Supply Chain Management Instructor: Bora Kolfal
A pretty chilling course. 1 Midterm 1 Final and plenty of assignments; however assignments are pretty much similar
to the examples taught in class and exams are all open-book. If you have taken the course “Management Science” in
HKUST before, it will be easier for you as the course relies heavily on Excel Spreadsheets and involves plenty of
linear programming models. Textbook is required however not useful at all and will not be used in class so forget
about it.
OM461 Distribution Management Instructor: Chris Neuman
Kind of those courses that inspire you to think. The difficulty is hard but the professor is extremely lenient over
grades. The whole course doesn’t cover a lot of topics in operations researches but each topic is a useful and
practical one that is very well-linked to real life situations. Textbook is not required however attention is needed in
class as it’s difficult to gather examples or googling around to gain better understanding. I’d say it’s a customized
course and if you like it you’ll love it otherwise it may discourage you a bit. It is also a typical Operations
Management course that relies heavily on Excel models. It’d be a bit helpful if you have taken “Management
Science” in HKUST as a lot of Excel formulas will help you get to answers quicker; however, these 2 courses don’t
intersect much at all.
CHINA407 Advanced Reading in Modern Chinese Instructor: Danqing Wang
A fun course that kept me distressed. Professor is pretty and helpful, not to mention that she embraces diversity as
well as encouraging the class to speak up. However, it’s a course that needs professor’s consent before enrollment.
Sports & Recreation Facilities
A wide range of sports facilities are provided on campus. Most of them are located at the Butterdome (near to Lister
Hall). You can find indoor swimming pool, gym, basketball courts, etc at there. However, I have only used the gym
and the outdoor football field (Lister Turf) before and they are pretty good. You may want to know that the Golden
Bears is the iconic symbol of the school team for men and the Pandas are for women. Through International Center
you might be able to get a free ticket to watch an Ice Hockey home game between the Bears and any other
university in Western Canada.
I’d consider myself a big spender and I didn’t really keep track of my expenditures so the table below is just for
simple reference. One point to note is that I didn’t include my flight expenses from and to Canada as I was
departing from Malaysia instead of Hong Kong.
Housing (I-House)
Health Insurance (Mandatory)
U-Pass (Mandatory)
Telecommunications (Fido Prepaid)
Bedroom stuff
Banff, Jasper & Calgary Trip
US East Coast Trip
US West Coast Trip
Social Clubs & Networking Opportunities
There are plenty of clubs here whereas some of them don’t even require any membership fees. I’ve been involved
with the BEA (Business Exchange Association), Cantonese Fellowship, International Friendship and CSSA. Mostly
BEA which I was assigned a buddy before I arrived and my buddy has assisted me so well by clearing all the doubts I
had before my arrival, picking me up at the airport when I arrived, letting me stay overnight at his house due to my
late arrival (couldn’t manage to check-in I-House), as well as fetching me to the outlet to get some value deals on
pillows and other necessities. The BEA also hold other events as well such as Scavenger Hunt, case competitions,
etc. Also, the fact that I’m living in I-House has pretty much packed up my schedule with all their awesome events.
Health and Safety
There is a mandatory insurance program called “University of Alberta Health Insurance Program” (UAHIP) where
you are enrolled automatically upon your arrival. So you just pay the money and get the card at the International
Center. I haven’t really checked that out before so I wasn’t sure what it covers actually but you can always ask the
staff at the International Center when you collect your card. If you think it isn’t meeting your needs they have other
programs as well that you can purchase.
In general, the campus looks just safe to me as I have tried walking back alone from Cameron library to I-House
pretty frequently in the midnight and nothing really happened. Otherwise you can always look for the Safe-Walk
service offered by the UA community where student-volunteer will walk you back to keep you accompanied and
This was so much a trouble for me as dining outside in Alberta are generally expensive and I know nothing about
cooking. Apart from eating cereals and microwave food, I mostly dine at Tom’s (another exchange student from
HKUST) place. There are plenty of restaurants around campus though and they provide quite a variety of cuisines
you can choose from. Some restaurants such as SugarBowl, Dadeo, Julio's Barrio, etc serve not only good food but
good vibe for dining as well. Also there’s a Tim Horton’s (you will know it when you get there) that open 24/7 near
campus where you can get coffee/snacks (good for all-nighter pullers).
For groceries shopping, you can always visit Safeway which is on Whyte Avenue (pretty near to campus which you
can walk or take a bus there), or opt for cheaper options such as T&T (West Ed Mall), Walmart or Real Canadian
Superstore (Clareview LRT station).
The U-Pass will basically give you all the public transportation access you need for free in Edmonton. It is a sticker
stick on your OneCard and whenever you need to get on a public transport you just show your OneCard; and that
will entitle you to a free ride (not really because you already paid it in advance :p). Keep in mind you can always
check the arrival time of the bus by texting the bus stop number to “31100”.
Dry and cold. It was a little better in September and October where you can still get around 10 degree Celsius.
Around November when the first snow arrives it’s where the nightmare begins in which during daytime you will get
something like -20 degree Celsius and sometimes with a windchill of -40 degree Celsius. The temperature fluctuates
so sometimes even during December you get positive degree. What I do is checking the weather frequently via
website like Weather Network. Believe me when it’s cold it’s really cold that you want to cover every part of your
body and keep them as warm as possible. As the indoor is equipped with central heating system so layered-dressing
is advised (basically taking off your thick jacket); alternatively, you can always buy the jacket here as you can always
search for some value deals here.
As the North America is using a different network frequency compared to most of the other countries, my old
phone therefore wasn’t able to use most of the network service providers such as Rogers and Telus. I got myself the
Fido prepaid one in which you pay only for the amount you use. So whenever you finish up your credits you can buy
for a $10 or more top-up voucher to refill the credits. I signed up for the $5 messaging plan per month as well (you
can do it online on the Fido website after you get one) in which I can send and receive messages up to 250 per
month for only $5.
For internet connection, as I was living on the first floor of I-House where my laptop and cellphone hardly detect
any signal from the public WiFi, I signed up for the Residence Internet Wired Service that cost me around $25 per
month (you need to prepare your own LAN cable). Other places on campus you can always get access to the free
public WiFi.
Cautionary Measures
Always keep an eyes on the icey pedestrian path as it will get really slippery. You can either choose walking slowly
and cautiously or do the “penguin walk” :p
If you are planning to go to the airport via Edmonton Sky Shuttle service, allows enough buffering as the van always
come late.
○ Passport, HKID, Driving license
○ Cash and equivalency
○ School official letters (e.g. Acceptance letter)
○ Camera, Laptop, Phone, Charger and other electronic appliances
○ AC Converter
○ Stationery (e.g. Papers, Files) and Calculator
○ Winter Clothing
○ Sports Wear
○ Suits and Professional wears
○ Long Johns
○ Woolen socks and wears (if you are planning to go skiing these will keep you dry)
○ Gloves, scarf
○ Dining utensils