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Concordia International: ‘There is no greater learning experience’

Keen to complete your education by studying abroad? Now’s the time to apply
October 30, 2014
By Sara DuBreuil

Ever wondered how “South Africa” would look on your CV? Or what it’s like to hit the books in an apartment around the corner from Notre Dame Cathedral?

This is the type of experience that Concordia International Business student Hannah Kellett brought home from her study abroad experience in Pretoria, South Africa, and that journalism student Tiffany Lafleur had during her exchange in Paris, France.

The Concordia Student Exchange Program allows students to meet their academic requirements while seeing material through a new lens. They are challenged academically at a new institution with new professors, new assignments and new expectations.

One of journalism student Tiffany Lafleur’s favourite shots of the Eiffel Tour in Paris. One of journalism student Tiffany Lafleur’s favourite shots of the Eiffel Tour in Paris. | Photo by Tiffany Lafleur

“Within any regional area or country, we have lots of options for students,” says Amanda Holt, the coordinator of International Student Affairs at JMSB. “For example, if a student wants to study in Germany, we have lots of availability. Do they teach in English? Yes. Do they all teach in English? No, but we can find the right school, with the right courses to fit each student’s needs.”

“For journalism, it’s important to have a global view,” says Lafleur. “It’s important to realize there are other cultures out there, different people and different ways of thinking.”

The student exchange program requires that students achieve a 3.0 GPA, though specific requirements vary between faculties. It’s open to a wide range of students, from a variety of majors — including students from Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education, like Kellett and Lafleur. 

“We send a lot of Co-op students abroad,” Holt says. “Often, they are our most driven and organized students, ready to take on the opportunity.”

Students from the Institute for Co-operative Education are responsible for securing their work terms, and some worry about completing that process out of the country.

Another common concern is that the dates of our and those with other universities around the world do not always match — articularly in the southern hemisphere. This requires planning to coordinate with the Co-op programme’s rotation requirements.

Andrew Lang, director of Concordia International, says there’s a solution for that. “Co-op students have to take the timing into careful consideration and we can help them identify places where the schedule more closely matches ours,” he says.

“It is also always important that students choose destinations that compliment their programs at Concordia. You are choosing much more than a trip. You’re choosing an academic program.”

Not only should the host institution offer courses that correspond to the applicant’s program, they should also consider destinations that will make them stand out professionally.

“A lot of companies and organizations are looking for people with experience in emerging markets or places that are off the beaten paths of tourism,” Lang says.

For Kellett, it came down to being organized and knowing early on that she wanted to do both. She said that most of the initial job application steps take place online and can be done from anywhere. 

“When I’m asked employers for an interview and let them know I’m abroad, it’s often intriguing for an employer and they usually make it work,” says Kellett. “I’ve done interviews at 2 and 3 a.m., but it’s worth it not to have to sacrifice one or the other.”

Holt explained that Co-op students can rearrange their academic schedule to do two consecutive study terms, followed by two consecutive work terms. They can also secure a placement with a previous employer before going away or they can find a placement within their exchange country. The key for all students from any faculty is knowing what options are available.

“Information is power,” says Holt. “Get it as soon as you can in your university career. You need the information early and from the right places.”

That means visiting Concordia International. And right now, that’s even easier than usual: as part of International Education Week, there will be a Concordia Student Exchange Program information session held to accommodate Co-op students and others who cannot attend during daytime hours. It runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, November 3, 2014.

Holt says meeting with a student who has done the exchange is important because “studying abroad goes beyond the academics.” It’s about the whole experience.

Kellett agrees. “There truly is no greater learning experience. You’ll be put in situations you never expected and you’ll meet friends who will be with you for the rest of your life.”

Find out more about Concordia International
or visit Concordia International’s office at 2080 Mackay St., annex X.

International Education Week (November 3-7) is held annually by Concordia International. It is designed to bring awareness to Concordia students about the international opportunities available to them through a variety of information sessions, fairs and meet and greets. Find out more about International Education Week events.

Concordia International’s evening information session takes place on Monday, November 3, 2014 from 6-7:30 p.m. in room X-103, annex X, 2080 Mackay. There is no need to register. Concordia International also hosts information sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 p.m., and every Thursday at 1 p.m. until December 11, 2014. The session will then continue from January 6 until January 22, 2015. 


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