picture of a sunrise from the inside of the plane, with the wing in the view

My Experience Applying to the Learning Abroad Program

Going on a Learning Abroad opportunity is more than just attending classes in a different country — it is also about immersing oneself in new cultures, forging lifelong connections, and gaining a global perspective that transcends traditional classroom boundaries!

As someone whose high school is right behind Victoria College, I had always been drawn to the idea of studying abroad. Through the Learning Abroad program, I have a chance to leave my hometown and experience life in a different part of the world while continuing to pursue my degree! I have also been motivated by the experiences of my other friends at U of T who have moved from all over the world and lived alone for the first time in a brand-new country. Watching them navigate the highs and lows of the journey motivated me to also seek out my own study abroad experience. 

There are many things to take into consideration before applying for the exchange program. How long will you be going for — a semester, a summer, or the full year? Each of the different timelines has different application deadlines to take note of.

My personal circumstances made it the most logical decision to apply for the full-year term. The earlier full-year deadline gives me more time to sort out my housing and financial situation for the next school year if I do not get nominated and remain in Toronto. Going for the full-year exchange also gives me more time in my host country to adjust to a different country before I have to return home!

After deciding on my length of stay, it was time for the fun part — picking where I wanted to go! My dream destination needed to meet a few criteria:

  1. Ideally located in Western Europe/somewhere where other major cities are nearby and easily accessible. 
  2. My host university needed to have lots of English-language course offerings, and hopefully, a sizeable exchange student population I could interact with as well.
  3. The cost of living at my destination should be comparable to Toronto — or cheaper!

Given these criteria, I was able to refine my search and select my top five schools. I also took into consideration other personal factors. Which cities did I have a personal interest in? What schools and cities would be most compatible with the program I am in right now? 

Me and my friend also attended the Learning Abroad workshop ahead of the deadline to apply. The presentation that the Learning Abroad team gave us answered all of our questions regarding the application process! In the application, it asks you to select courses you would be taking at your study abroad destination. Navigating many different universities’ syllabi, schedules, and course offerings was certainly overwhelming to begin with, but the representatives at the workshop were able to answer all of our questions. We were able to proceed with submitting our application with the confidence that we were going about the process the right way.

Photo of a slideshow from the Learning Abroad presentation with info and dates
The Learning Abroad Application dates from the workshop I attended!

The application process can be quite time-consuming, so I recommend getting started on it as soon as possible. There are three main components of the application process — the course/location selection, personal statements, and funding for the International Experience Award, if you wish to apply for it. The form asks many detailed questions about your plans and motivations, so I would recommend doing as much research and planning as you can before you fill out the application.

The Centre for International Experience takes about 8 weeks to process applications and notify applicants whether or not they have been nominated for a Learning Abroad experience. Until then, I just have to wait and see what happens!

If you are interested in applying for a Learning Abroad experience, it’s not too late! The deadline to apply for the Summer Experience is February 14, 2024, and the deadline to apply for the Winter Exchange is April 3, 2024 (application timelines are available here). Want to learn more? Check out all upcoming Learning Abroad events and workshops.

– Selina

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