University- but Make It Abroad
By: Rory Sullivan
Picture this. It’s exam season, and you’re completely stressed out. You take a break from your textbook because words are starting to lose all meaning. You look out your window, and see… the Eiffel Tower? Maybe Big Ben? If you study abroad, there are endless possibilities! Life is short, and once we graduate from university and enter the workforce, our time to travel and experience different places will be significantly shortened. Why not take advantage of the opportunities available to us in order to live our academic career, and our young lives, to the fullest? Here are some benefits of studying abroad!
Work on your Language Skills!
This is a great reason to study abroad. Being fully immersed in the culture is one of the most effective ways of learning a language, and by studying and living in a different country, students are able to pick up the language a lot faster than usual. If you were to choose a country that has a language you are familiar with, it can also make you feel more comfortable studying there when you already have a basic knowledge of the language. For students who are hoping to hone their French skills, which is an important skill if you want to work for the government or in a French-leaning city like Ottawa, a placement in France is especially popular. There’s no better way to learn French fast than in the country of origin itself!
2. It Looks Good to Future Employers/Post-Undergrad Admissions!
Having a placement abroad on your CV or resume is definitely a positive to admissions officers and future employers. Not only does it demonstrate your willingness to pursue new experiences and challenges, but it also shows that you can be adaptable. Depending on the placement, some students choose to throw themselves into completely unfamiliar cultures and languages, and employers view this as someone who is able to tackle a new environment and is not afraid of the curveballs that may accompany it. Depending on your field, international experience can also be seen as an advantage to employers and admissions. Students who can view their education and work from a global perspective rather than a limited one are considered more valuable.
3. Meet New People!
What better way to network and meet new friends than in a different country? There are so many things to do in your new city, and long-lasting friendships can easily be made when there are so many new memories to be created. In a placement where you’re far from home and away from your family and familiar friends, it’s almost impossible to not feel lonely. Your fellow students who are also there studying abroad feel the same way, so might as well strike up a new friendship that has the potential to last a lifetime! And who knows? The people you meet abroad might be good professional contacts that you could take advantage of in the future!
4. Learn How to be Self-Reliant!
Being thousands of miles away from home, you kind of have no choice BUT to be independent. Independence and resourcefulness come easy to some and harder to others, but there’s no better opportunity to learn these skills than when abroad. There’s no calling your parents when you need something. Depending on the country you’re placed in, finding things you need can be a lot more difficult than you’re used to. Language and cultural barriers, unfamiliar streets, and people, and maybe even a different currency can all be factors that make life abroad more difficult. Though these may be speedbumps, they should not be deterrents! Learning to drive over these speedbumps will make you a more adaptable, resourceful, and self-reliant person - all qualities that will benefit you in your future professional and academic career.
5. Travel! (Obviously).
Okay, this one should be obvious, but studying abroad is a great opportunity to do some travelling! As I said previously, once we graduate, it will be harder to find opportunities to travel internationally. Life will get busier and busier, so there’s no better time than in university to go abroad. If you choose a placement in a good location such as France or Germany, you can have access to a whole assortment of other countries. Many students who are placed somewhere in Central Europe use their weekends to visit other European countries because of their close proximity. Most countries in Europe are only a train ride away from each other!
6. Further Your Education!
Though this point may be more for students who are studying International Relations, or Languages, or even Business, EVERY student can benefit from travelling abroad. By experiencing new cultures, you gain a global mindset that simply cannot be achieved when you remain in one place for your whole education. Learning from lectures and textbooks is valuable, but learning through experiences and living is priceless. (Most) people go to university only once, so why not make the most of your education to add some global perspective?
There are many other benefits to studying abroad, but these are some of the main reasons why you should consider a summer, semester, or even year abroad! However, studying abroad can be expensive, and is not always a realistic choice for some students. Below are some ways to fund your placement abroad:
University Scholarships - Every university will have different scholarships and bursaries available for students specifically looking to study abroad. Check your university’s study abroad page to look at the opportunities they offer.
Federal/Provincial Scholarships and Funding - The Canadian and Ontarian government has many research or academic funding opportunities for students looking to travel abroad. They are specific to the country of your placement (ex. Canadian-Chinese).
Federal: Edu Canada
Scholarships Canada - This website has thousands of scholarships available, many of which are study abroad specific. Make sure to use this link.
Study Portal - This website offers a great study abroad scholarship, as well as many other resources. Make sure to use this link.
OSAP - This isn’t the greatest option, as this requires borrowing money, but it is an option. Make sure to use this link.
Research for other external sources! Though universities will often have a page detailing other sources of funding outside of the university, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research as well!
I hope this gave you something to think about. Studying abroad can be such an amazing experience that you can cherish forever, so take advantage of it! Happy traveling!