Have you ever thought about studying abroad? Even if you haven’t, it may just be the right thing for you. I’ll tell you about my study-abroad experience, and you may just decide to do it yourself.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am currently in my last term of my psychology degree. I studied abroad in term two of 2017 at the University of Newcastle, Australia. After I came back, I found my perfect job at the International Student and Study Abroad Centre as a study-abroad student assistant.
So, I may be a little biased when I tell you that you should study abroad. However, I am not here to butter up the whole experience. Instead, I hope to share some information from my experience that will help you decide if studying abroad is the right thing for you.
As you may expect, the transition from living in Saskatoon to living in a foreign city can be tough. I luckily didn’t experience a large amount of culture shock, as Australian culture is very similar to Canadian culture. However, it was certainly alarming when I realized that I was alone and on the other side of the globe. Even if you’re in a country that is similar to where you’re from, you’re still far away from home.
Studying abroad also forces you to be independent. For instance, I had to figure out how the transit system worked, how to sign up for a bank account, where my classes were, how to make new friends and so much more. If being completely on your own is scary to you, then you may want to think twice before jumping on a plane. But, who knows — maybe studying abroad could help you become more self-sufficient.
Despite the necessary amount of independence, you’re bound to meet people from all over the world and make lifelong friends. This was by far my favourite aspect of studying abroad. I now have friends from Norway, London, Mexico and Amsterdam, just to name a few. I even met fellow Canadians who are from the East Coast.
I can’t stress enough that studying abroad will make memories that will last a lifetime. During my time in Australia, I rented a camper van with some friends and drove up the coast to Cairns and down to Great Ocean Road — I even got to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. I also decided to take a spontaneous trip to New Zealand — it was only a three-hour flight.
I’m not going to say some clichéd statement about how the study-abroad program changed my life, but I know it provided me with life skills and experiences that I would never have gotten in a classroom or living at home. Studying abroad is really about stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning about yourself and the world.
My advice to those who have thought about studying abroad is to start planning early. Go to ISSAC, and talk to one of the international-education officers to see what your options are and plan your year ahead. I also encourage you to have a chat with someone who has studied abroad. I’m sure they would love to share their experiences and answer some of your questions.
I’m excited for those of you who are planning to study abroad in the future. Remember to be open-minded and spontaneous — I tried to plan everything before I left, and I quickly realized that wasn’t necessarily the correct way of thinking. During my term abroad, I was flexible with my plans and changed them as I met more people and made new friends.
To find out more about study-abroad opportunities at the University of Saskatchewan, head to students.usask.ca/academics/go-abroad.php for details.
Text and supplied photos: Rose Wu