See the world without skipping an academic beat - Metro US

See the world without skipping an academic beat

While many young people take a year off studying to travel abroad, programs like Mount Saint Vincent University’s student exchange let young people live and learn in foreign countries without missing an academic beat.

Destinations for the International Exchange Program run across the world, with 28 partnerships from Austria, Estonia and Spain to Mexico, Russia and South Korea. The three-week China Summer Institute, which gives students a quick dip in the educational life of one of the world’s oldest cultures, is taking applications until Jan. 22 for the spring course. Students earn a half-credit for studying at Nanjing’s Ginling College for two weeks and spend the third week exploring Shanghai and Beijing, including the Forbidden City and Great Wall.

Part of MSVU international and exchange student adviser Paula Barry’s job is accompanying the students to China. Last year, most had never been on a plane and the security of the trip appealed to them — and their parents.

“It’s shocking (for students). You’ve not been to Toronto or Montreal, but your first place is Shanghai. It’s really rewarding for me just to see their expressions when they arrive and get on that train that goes 430 kilometres an hour,” Barry says.

After the three-week trip, some students wind up working in China or taking a year to study in another country.

For those seeking a less culturally shocking experience, agreements in the United States and United Kingdom let them study in English-speaking countries.

Barry says students are changed when they come home. “They’re considering different life paths. Maybe they would work abroad, maybe they would like to be involved in international development.” She says they also experience “re-entry culture shock,” shaking up their ideas about Canada.

The tuition is the same as regular studies at MSVU and bursaries can offset travel costs. MSVU works with students to lay out what they want to study and where, work on finances and ensure the credits are transferable before they even depart Halifax.

“It’s a very secure way to go abroad … Some students may not be able to make an entire year abroad work, but everybody can make a semester work,” says Barry.

To learn more, visit msvu.ca or contact Paula Barry at paula.barry @msvu.ca or 902-457-6130.

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