The University of Winnipeg’s (U of W’s) outbound exchange program is expanding this year, providing more options for undergraduate students to gain intercultural experiences.
The program gives students the opportunity to study at an international partner university for as long as one year. Many of the partner universities are located on different continents, such as Chungnam National University in South Korea, The University of Bamberg in Germany and Nagasaki University in Japan.
Jennifer Michaluk, the U of W’s international admissions coordinator, says the exchange program is a great way to travel while in university and to enhance your resumé.
“International experience is very valuable for many reasons – being able to participate in different educational systems, development of intercultural competencies. (Students) can improve their language skills. It’s great for networking, for getting new contacts as well as new friends, and (the) experience of living abroad,” Michaluk says.
While students are responsible for many expenses, such as health insurance, textbooks, living expenses, travel costs and accommodations, they may now get additional funding.
Apart from bursaries that students can apply for in their departments, they now have an opportunity to apply for a new $500 award administered specifically for exchange students.
Starting this year, there’s an opportunity for an international exchange program with the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) in Ireland, which may be of high interest to students studying kinesiology, an area AIT specializes in.
While three students from Ireland have already crossed the pond to study in Winnipeg, Patrick Savard, a third-year U of W student, is preparing to become one of the first Winnipeg students at AIT.
“It first came up as an opportunity to work with teams in other countries and (an) opportunity to travel while in school. I’m (hoping for) the experience of traveling on your own, being able to interact with people in other countries and becoming more independent,” Savard says.
The U of W exchange program usually hosts about 15 students every year, Michaluk says. Some of the most common places students choose to study in are Australia, Germany, France, Turkey, Denmark and South Korea.
Bryce Gallant, a third-year U of W student majoring in international development studies, recently came back from an exchange with the University of New England in Australia.
“There was a different teaching style, different workload expectations. The mentality was very different and the whole thing together was an incredible experience,” Gallant says. “I’ve learned their slang, that would be one (thing that I learned). You also learn more about yourself, learn how to be very independent.”
Gallant points out that the program was one of the reasons she decided to study at the U of W.
“A huge thanks to the exchange program in Australia as well. They were very helpful,” she says. “They did everything in their power to make something that has been a dream of mine a reality.”
Published in Volume 70, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 12, 2015)