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Are You Going Global?

Bonjour! 

Hola! 

Namaste! 

Guten Tag! 

Ni Hah! 

No, I don’t actually speak all these languages (gosh, I wish I did) but get this-  U of T has sent students to all the places these languages are spoken and many, many more besides. All the international programs through which students can study abroad will be having an informative fair this week at Sid Smith from Tuesday through till Thursday!

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This past month, I’ve been helping organize one of the sessions for Go Global Week, as it’s called, and I’ve been struck with a serious case of wanderlust. (symptoms include glassy eyes, excessive staring at world maps and daydreaming about being on exchange in France. May or may not coincide with impending midterms and mountains of readings to sift through.)

So naturally, I’ve been curious about what advantages an international experience would have other than the obvious lifelong brag factor. I asked a few friends how their international experiences helped shape their lives and I got some interesting answers:

“I remember the first time I got lost in this strange district of a new city during my exchange program- it was paralyzing panic- this wasn’t just like getting lost back home where I could ask a kindly stranger where I was (all nearby strangers didn’t speak my language and sure didn’t look kindly!) but (after getting back safe and sound) it taught me what I’m capable of handling. When you’re on your own like that, without your safety net of language or familiarity, it’s the scariest thing in the world but also the most rewarding.”

“I feel like spending time abroad, learning in a new environment- everyday tasks become learning experiences. You learn more about yourself, what you can handle, what you can’t handle, what you like and don’t like….it’s like a valuable adventure I don’t regret going on.”

In case that got you thinking a little bit more about international experiences, here’s a little chat I had with the Director of International Programs here at U of T, Mary-Priscilla Stevens about the opportunities we have to explore new places:

What is Go Global Week all about?

Go Global Week is a chance for students to learn more about all of the international opportunities available to Arts and Science students (many that are open to all U of T students as well!)

Who can I expect to see at the fair? 

There will be lots of students and staff who can answer questions about different types of international coursework opportunities, summer research opportunities, summer abroad courses and student exchange programs.

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of U of T’s international programs?

The first Summer Abroad course began in 1972 with a single program in Siena, Italy and that program is still running 43 years later!

How many students participate in UofT’s international programs? (on average) 

Over 1,000 Arts and Science students participate in international programs each year.

What are some of the most common concerns students have when considering an international program? 

I would say cost is one of the major concerns, but there is more financing available than you might think! Another is losing time to graduation – good planning usually covers this, and course credit  – again, good planning can help with this as well.

What are some of the most common and uncommon places students go to for exchanges/international programs?  

Among the most common places are probably European and Asian destinations, including the UK, Singapore, Korea. As for the least common – we have two students who just returned from Guyana, there have also been some students who travelled to Cameroon last Reading Week! We also have had groups that have done research in Tunis and the Republic of Georgia (in the Caucasus, not in the US) and in Death Valley in the US.

Did you have an international experience during your university career? What is the best thing about studying abroad?  

I spent a term in London while I was at University and the best thing about it was learning more about my area of study from people whose scholarship I had read, and who provided a completely different perspective to what professors at my home university taught.

Bernard Ma presenting  IMG_0470 IMG_0468

So if you’re interested in learning about taking your education to the next level, give the fair a visit perhaps? If nothing, you’ll come away with an abundance of colourful leaflets and some fascinating travel stories from alumni and students.

At the fair this week? Use the hashtag #UofTGoesGlobal to show us what you’re interested in!