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Andrew from Concordia’s B.A. English program
Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan

From the moment I became a student at Concordia, I knew I wanted to broaden my perspective of the world. The best way to achieve my dream was to immerse myself in a new culture. For some people, being away from friends and family can be terrifying, but I can guarantee that once you overcome your fears, your time abroad will easily become one of the most memorable moments of your university career.

During my third year, I took the initiative to study abroad in Tokyo at our partner university, Toyo University. I can honestly say that you would be surprised how quickly you begin to learn a new language and a society’s cultural norms once you are immersed in them daily. Learning a language can be challenging at times, but perseverance is key for gaining an adequate command of it. Japanese is by no means an easy language to learn; however, the constant challenge it pro-vides makes it even more rewarding once you begin to understand it. The most rewarding part of studying abroad for me is being able to communicate with my international friends in their primary language.

Toyo has an excellent Japanese language program for foreign exchange students, and the teachers are absolutely wonderful. They understand how difficult it can be to learn another language, so they go above and beyond to assist you as much as they can. Toyo’s students are also just as wonderful. They are friendly and eager to learn about Canadian culture just as much as you are eager to learn about their culture. The balance between school life and leisure time is perfect. You have plenty of time to explore all the wonders Japan has to offer.

If you love adventure and are not afraid of challenging yourself, please study abroad. It is a wonderful experience for self-development and the friendships and memories you make are irreplaceable. So why not take the chance? You have nothing to lose and so many excellent memories to gain. 頑張って楽しんですね! (Good luck and have fun!)

Colin from Concordia’s B.A. History program
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus in Barbados

From the moment I started at Concordia I knew I wanted to study a semester abroad. I did not hesitate to apply because I had heard so many great things and studying in another country had always been a goal of mine. I decided to study in the winter semester in my second year. After looking through Concordia’s partnerships I narrowed down to study at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus in Barbados, where I studied for 5 months.

Before I left I did as much research on the country as I could, but even that could not prepare me for an incredible experience. The courses I took were exactly what I had hoped to take and I ended up learning a lot about Barbados and the surrounding Caribbean islands which are all very fascinating and unique, not to mention the professors were great too. Outside of the classroom was also a learning experience as I tried to absorb as much knowledge and as much of the culture as I could from the other students as well as other people living in Barbados. It was not too difficult to get around to places as the island was small therefore I was able to explore the beauties of Barbados.

Studying in another country away from friends and family may make people nervous at first but the reality is quite different and like no other. It is an easy way to make friends from around the world, experience a new country and culture, and have courses that will count to your degree, so there is no reason not to go.

Ana from Concordia’s B.A. Psychology program
University of the Basque Country, Spain

FB_IMG_1474340755855-150x150Studying abroad was quite easily the best thing I have ever done for myself so far. People aren’t lying when they say it has changed their lives permanently. I am an example of that. When you study overseas your horizon opens up to reveal things you cannot see at home. You meet incredible people, see beautiful things, and become a more compatible person with the world around you. I spent a total of 8 months in Spain: San Sebastián campus (University of Basque Country) for 5 months of studying and 3 months more because I fell in love with the city and its people.

When you go to the host institution and begin learning from people who have completely different histories than a typical Canadian, you begin to learn better. My professors in Spain were unlike any teacher I’ve had in Canada. My classmates were welcoming and eager to learn about Canadian life. I came back with more self awareness, empathy for other cultures, and understanding of other people. You will come back to your home university a more well rounded student and individual.

But don’t take my word for it. My story is not your story. Take a chance and do something that you will never regret. Was I scared? Yes. Did I do it anyway? Yes. I’ve learned boldness pays off. University life is enriched by studying abroad like nothing else. What are you waiting for? Go for it.

Jessy from Concordia’s B.A. History program
Coventry University, United Kingdom

IMG_0839-300x256To study abroad had been a goal of mine since junior high; I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew that it was something that I needed to pursue when I entered university. In high school when I began looking into universities around the province, one of my main criteria was that whichever school I chose needed to have an excellent international program that would allow me to achieve my study abroad goal, hence my decision to attend Concordia. For my second year of university, I lived in Coventry, England for nine months and attended Coventry University.

Trying to narrow down the list of highlights of my year abroad is definitely not an easy task. Not only was I able to attend an excellent university and meet professors and fellow students who had a true impact on my academic and personal lives, but I got to do it in a country that has always been of special interest to me as a history student.

When I decided to study abroad, I of course had an idea in my head of a year spent travelling, meeting new and interesting people, trying new things, and learning about another culture by immersing myself in it; and my time in Coventry definitely fulfilled every hope and goal I had for my year abroad. I was able to travel all around England and some of Scotland, as well as to a few cities in mainland Europe that have always been on my ‘to visit’ list. Through classes and university social events I met people from all over the world that had different stories to tell and new perspectives that I never would have thought of not having met them. And I was able to do all of this while living in a beautiful little city that I absolutely adored, and definitely plan on returning to one day. All in all, my year abroad was an amazing experience, and I encourage other Concordia students to take advantage of this wonderful program. It is truly a life-changing experience.

Gabriel from Concordia’s B.A. English studies
University of Basque Country, Spain

Many people hear about the opportunity to study abroad, but far too many don’t consider it as a possibility. You hear these stories about how the experience “changed my life” and how they met “so many amazing people”, and you hear what they say but you’ve heard it a million times before. It doesn’t really communicate the reality of the opportunity sitting right in front of you. I want you to really open your mind about what I’m about to say, because I can tell you with one hundred percent confidence that the decision I made to move to another country for a semester to study and live abroad was the absolute best thing that has happened in my life.

I lived in a town called Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country in Spain for 5 months, and in that time I learned more, grew more as a person, and had so many more incredible experiences than I would have in years in Canada. It was the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done: it has fundamentally altered my world view, and truly changed my life. I met some lifelong friends, ate until I couldn’t move, had my heart broken, travelled to different parts of Spain and Italy, spent way too much money, and had an amazing time. It was undeniably difficult and a roller coaster of a ride, but it was all worth it.

I implore you to seriously consider this opportunity, because I definitely want to share this with others and encourage people to take a risk and take the leap. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself that you did.