Getting overseas experience can strengthen your resume, enhance your education and be a lot of fun
When Kali Penney needed to strengthen her med school application, she had a choice between taking more classes and getting some volunteer experience. She chose to spend three months volunteering in Calcutta, followed by a month traveling around India. Her volunteer work looks good on her application, but the experience ended up meaning much more than that to her. “I would recommend going overseas. You’ll do so many things you’d never get to do here and meet people you’d never get to meet.”
There’s no better way to educate yourself about the world than to go out and see it. Travelling can be a great way to broaden your perspective, and doing it while you’re in school and you’re young can be great. Those old people in their fancy tour buses and their five-star hotels are probably enjoying themselves too, but that’s nothing compared to the freedom and the adventure you can have when you’re three decades younger and have a tenth as much money.
There are loads of ways to go abroad while you’re in university. If you do your research, you can find ways to go overseas without blowing a lot of money or adding semesters to the time it takes you to get your degree. You can even find ways to make your trip enhance your education and improve your future job prospects by building your resume — which is also a great way to justify a trip to your parents.
Going to school and living in a foreign country will give you a much deeper understanding of a place than just breezing through as a tourist. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the local language and to make friends with locals and other international students. Plus, you won’t miss any semesters and you’ll remain on track for graduation.
For some areas of study, going abroad can greatly improve your education. Overseas universities will offer courses not available at home, and the country you study in can offer opportunities you’d never have in Canada — for example, studying Spanish in Madrid, or Archaeology in Cairo. Most universities have exchange agreements with a number of foreign universities so that you pay the same tuition you would at your home university, rather than expensive foreign student fees.
The easiest way to be sure that the courses you take overseas will be credited through your degree is to go through an exchange program. Check your uni’s website for information, (for example, here is USask’s) but hurry; exchange application deadlines are usually early in the winter semester — meaning right about now.
Volunteering in a developing country can be one of the most rewarding (and challenging) experiences you’ll have in your life. Your experience will look great on a resume, particularly if it is related to your field of study, such as medicine, engineering, teaching or social work. It can be difficult, however, to find a volunteer posting that won’t cost you a lot of money.