Travel and get credit

By Bonnie Leung

Have you ever considered going abroad and meeting new people?

The University of Calgary’s International Student Centre may be your ticket out.

According to ISC Coordinator Glynn Hunter, the ISC has two main focuses.

"We work with international students coming to the U of C," he said. "So from the point where an international student is admitted to the U of C, they will start working with our office. We also work with Canadians who want to go abroad."

The ISC is also the university’s study abroad resource centre.

"We administer most of the exchange programs that the university has," said Hunter. "So I guess we’re the oVice on campus that deals most directly with students in terms of helping them internationalize their program, either by having foreign students come to the university or having Canadians go abroad."

Third-year Biological Science and Economics student Veevek Thankey is going to Malta in January. He feels that there are three reasons for this exchange.

"[Firstly,] to learn courses that are not offered at U of C," he said. "Secondly, on a personal development note, to learn something about yourself, like style changes, [and] look at things from another point of view. Thirdly, it is probably one of the cheapest ways to travel. You’re studying abroad and you’re also going somewhere interesting."

Applying to the exchange program is simple.

"Twice a week, every Wednesday at noon and every Thursday at 12:30 p.m., we have a 45 minute information session called Study Abroad 101," said Hunter. "After [students have] been to that session, they can then book in to see one of the advisors in terms of ‘I know where I want to go and now I want to talk some specifics about that institution.’"

GPA is not the only thing the ISC examines.

"As part of the exchange application, we look at your GPA, but we also ask you to provide academic references, work references, personal references," said Hunter. "We ask the student to write an essay about who they are and why they want to go abroad and how this fits into their career, how this fits into their academic program."

While your tuition on an exchange is paid to the U of C at current U of C rates, the living costs will be greater than living in Calgary.

"So if you’re going to the U.K. or Australia, tuition in those countries can be $8-$10,000," said Hunter. "The fact is, there’s travel cost involved. Generally, we tell students you should look at a minimum of $12,000."

Going abroad will help Thankey decide whether to continue in his chosen field of study.

"Sure I can do these courses here at the U of C, but doing them abroad kind of removes you from the external pressures that you have at home," he said. "And the thing that you can also benefit from an exchange program is to find out what you’re capable of, what you need to grow in, [and] looking at a new way of life. That enhances your perspective on your own culture and also cultures abroad as well."