Encouraging the value of travel

 Annual exchange and study-abroad fair promotes international experiences

“I think it’s important to meet people, to discover a new culture and to be more open-minded,” said Jeanne-Louise Cato, an exchange student from Université Angers in France. “Don’t hesitate to go [on exchange].” Mara Ireta Gordon/Argosy
Last week the International Centre hosted its annual exchange fair. Students gathered in Tweedie Hall for an info session followed by a discussion panel with past exchange students. Afterwards, interested students were encouraged to check out the booths set up for each of Mount Allison’s partner universities.

Mt. A currently offers 31 study-abroad and exchange programs in 20 different countries around the world, from Denmark and Japan to Chile and Australia.

Robin Walker, the international affairs coordinator, presented three questions to the panel: why did they choose to go on exchange, how did they fund their exchange and how did their transfer credits work?

Lauren Stoddart, a third-year student double majoring in psychology and sociology who visited the University of Newcastle in Australia last year, spoke on the panel. Her main reason for going on exchange: a love of travel. “Like a lot of people, I’m assuming, you’re here because you want to travel and see the world and it’s the best thing to do to combine school and travel,” said Stoddart.

James Thomas, a fourth-year economics major, spent last year’s winter semester at The Hague University in the Netherlands. Although there weren’t any economics classes for him to take, he used this chance to fill out his political science minor. “Going to The Hague for political science is like going to New York [or] LA for acting,” explained Thomas in reference to the international courts within the city. “It was a really interesting experience to dive into politics.”

In answer to Walker’s second question, Nathan Robichaud, a commerce major, told the room to “save way more money than you think you’re going to need.” Robichaud applied for the Cross Cultural College program in Japan, a three-week summer course that transfers back as three Mt. A credits.

“You have to coordinate and try to be on top of [transfer credits],” said Paige Percy, a fourth-year PPE student who attended the University of Hong Kong. Percy added that the International Office is very helpful with accommodating any trouble that may arise with classes.

“It’s not as scary as it sounds,” added Claire Genest, a fourth-year international relations student who attended the Université de Strasbourg. Genest pursued an exchange in order to immerse herself in the French language – a class she initially struggled with at Mt. A.

After the panel, students filed out of Tweedie Hall into the foyer of the Student Centre to talk to students who had either previously gone on exchange or were currently on exchange to Mt. A.

“I have wanted to go on exchange since before I even went to university,” said Alyson Mackay, a third-year student from the University of Stirling. “Do everything you possibly can [when on exchange] because you’re not going to get another chance to.”

Exchange can allow students to pursue studies that aren’t available at their home school. Kirsten Mason, a fifth-year student majoring in classics and anthropology, went to the Pompeii Archaeological Field School for a month long study-abroad program to gain hands-on experience in archeology. “It’s a really good way to get to travel and to experience actual archeology that you can’t do in Canada,” said Mason.

Zoë Cober attended Waseda University for a year and while there was able to complete a Japanese studies major, something that is not available here at Mt. A. “[Exchange] really gave me the chance to do what I want to do,” said Cober. “I want to be an interpreter in Japanese and English so the exchange program was my way of getting my foot in the door.”

Many students agreed that studying abroad can also be a liberating experience. “Just to get out of your bubble, your hometown, your friends, your circle and see something different,” said Antonia Neumann on the importance of exchange programs. Neumann is currently on exchange from Philipps Universität Marburg in Germany. “There will be hard times … where you’re homesick but it’s definitely worth it … Those memories are really precious.”

If you have any questions about exchange and study-abroad experiences, the International Office is located on the second floor of the Student Centre, or you can check their page on the Mount Allison website.

Julianna Rutledge
Julianna Rutledge is a third year English major at Mount Allison University. She grew up outside of Toronto (which she never quite liked) and moved to Sackville for university (which she would like better if there were less exams). She is an Arts and Culture reporter at the Argosy.