Immersion in a new language. Exotic people and places. New foods and cultural flavours. Independence and travel. These are just a few of the reasons that every year more than 1,000 University of Calgary students choose to study abroad.
The experience enhances education, broadens horizons and often opens new doors to career choices. And it's an exhilarating way to learn.
The University of Calgary has one of the country's widest variety of international options for university students. "We put a lot of energy into ensuring that the overseas experience is a great one," says Glynn Hunter, director of international relations at the university.
Students can spend a week, a month, a semester or a school year participating in group study programs, exchanges with other universities or working overseas as part of a practicum or internship. The university has more than two dozen short-term overseas programs and 125 active student exchange programs in more than 40 countries. Individual faculties also offer overseas options for study or practicums.
"Students know that this kind of experience helps them stand out from the pack," says Colleen Packer, study abroad advisor for the Centre for International Students and Study Abroad. Many of them are able to take specialty courses not available to them in Calgary, to enhance their degrees.
About 12 percent of the graduating class studies abroad and the university aims to increase that number. International education is an important priority for the university, says Hunter.
"We have a very aware student body, but many of them are from southern Alberta," he says. "A chance to travel to another country provides them with wider career choices, new challenges and broadens their perspective on the world."
On the following pages, University of Calgary students who are currently studying abroad, or who have recently returned, share some of the highlights of their travels. For more information on international student opportunities go to www.ucalgary.ca/uci.