Globe‑trotting students share stories

- January 26, 2011

Emily Nguyen
Emily Nguygen spent a term at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. (Katherine Wooler Photo)

Dalhousie extends further than its multiple campuses within Halifax, reaching out to various countries all over the world through students who choose to participate in international exchange programs.

Emily Nguyen chose to spend her 2009-2010 winter term in the Netherlands because she wanted to be adventurous and obtain part of her post-secondary education in a different environment. The arts and culture of Europe, along with its abundant opportunity for inter-continental travel, attracted her to Maastricht University where she completed the third year of her neuroscience degree.

Similarly, a love for travel and “the opportunity to live in another country” prompted English major Jessa Wright to take transferable credits at the University of Hull in England. 

Kewoba Carter’s decision to study abroad was motivated by her desire to learn a new language. A fourth-year student pursuing combined honours in International Development and English, Ms.Carter has just returned from a semester of studying at the Universidad Autonoma de Campeche, Mexico. Her Spanish improved greatly with complete immersion.

Paris Fashion Week

Ms. Wright stayed in an international house on campus and claims the people she met were “one of the highlights of [her] exchange.” Ms. Nguygen pursued her love of biking and took advantage of cheap travel to visit as many countries as possible. Fashion Week in Paris and a Phoenix concert in Luxembourg were just two of the festivals and live shows she enjoyed on her exchange, proving that studying abroad doesn’t have to be all work and no play. She even met movie star Channing Tatum in the basement of a Barcelona church!

While in Mexico, Ms. Carter spent free time on the beach, whereas Ms. Wright enjoyed skiing the Alps during a visit to Switzerland.

Ms. Nguygen describes her education at Maastricht as “hands-on” with more “student-controlled, tutorial-based learning,” and assures other students that the quality of education was not diminished due to its differences from Dalhousie. Ms. Carter says she was able to “really experience Mexican history” with such activities as field trips to the Mayan ruins.

A semester in England not only encouraged Ms. Wright to be more independent, but also increased her desire to work and live in different cities of the world. Staying in an apartment-style residence on a campus where she knew no one forced Ms. Nguygen to be more outgoing—a trait which she is happy to have developed. Socializing with the locals was Ms. Carter’s favourite part of her exchange and, by living with a host family and travelling to local indigenous communities, she experienced first-hand the hospitality of another country.

'Keep an open mind'

After Ms. Nguygen returned from her semester abroad, she began working at the International Student Exchange Services (ISES) office. She not only helps to send Dal students around the world, but also welcomes international students who come to  Dalhousie.

Ms. Carter believes her immersion has helped her to better understand development issues in Latin America and encourages other students to “keep an open mind” and consider how a cross-cultural experience would benefit both education and future career opportunities. An exchange program, according to Ms. Nguygen, is an excellent chance to “learn about yourself.” All three students made lasting friendships during their time spent abroad, and highly recommend the experience of an international exchange.

Ms. Carter advises students to research their exchange programs in order to quell doubts, while Ms. Nguygen reminds people to check for financial support, such as bursaries, through the ISES office.

Applications to study abroad or participate in an international exchange for the 2011-2012 academic year are due Monday, January 31. More information can be found on the ISES website, and students can visit the ISES office in the Killam.

Katherine Wooler is a third-year Dalhousie student majoring in English and creative writing.


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