It’s always been my dream to study abroad. Despite the fact that I’ve missed the optimal time to spend a semester studying in another country (it’s recommended in a student’s third year), I strongly suggest that everyone experience this wonderful opportunity.
For Arts and Science students, international and Canadian exchanges are offered through the International Student Exchange Office (ISXO). These opportunities will expose you to new cultures and languages, and allow you to get an authentic experience of the place you choose. You can develop new contacts, learn a new language and improve your marketability. What other reason do you need to hop on a plane?! Most sites offer exchanges for a term or even a full year, and most graduate and undergraduate students are eligible.
A primary concern for any student, particularly during a recession, is the cost of the exchange. This includes your U of T tuition and incidental fees, plus the cost of living and studying abroad. You are responsible for the entire cost of the exchange, including airfare. I know – its pricey! Don’t forget, though, that those of you who are eligible for OSAP can apply for the same government assistance for your international studies.
Another concern for students on exchange is transfer credits — can there be complications when returning from abroad and having your credits recognized at U of T? There is a process for recognizing transfer credits, but the ISXO can’t guarantee that the credits you earn at another institution will be recognized at U of T. It is a good idea to get your questions answered in advance, because you’ll discover great solutions, such as the option to take a U of T credit abroad or a research internship.
In order to apply for an exchange, you must have completed at least one year of full-time studies, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 and a minimum annual GPA of 2.5 for the year in which you apply. Some programs have special language requirements.
Now for the fun part! Where can you go? There are over 70 universities, with options in Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the West Indies.
If I had a choice, I think I would study in Australia. I’ve always found it to be similar enough to Canada in that the education, language, food, transportation etc. are not a big adjustment, but it has the elements that I feel Canada is missing: an ocean warm enough to swim in, a giant opera house and kangaroos! 🙂 I’m kidding, but I think Australia has always been a hot travel for me.
Perhaps you are interested in traveling and studying abroad next year. Applications are generally due by January, but it is important for you to have up-to-date information. The ISXO office is located in the Koffler Student Services Centre, Room 202.
Exchange programs are wonderful opportunities. I would like to follow this up with several other posts, to guide readers on what you need to know as your application is accepted, and as you make plans to travel outside the country. If any of you lovely readers have done an exchange or are planning one, do leave a comment!