Queen's University

International exchanges expand students' horizons

Queen's student Sonia Gangal (left) made friends with students from around the world including Shaunak Shastree from Hong Kong and Annemarie Bauer from Vienna during her time at the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales in Paris.

Before coming to Queen’s commerce, Dan McCann had not given much thought to participating in an international exchange. After hearing upper-year commerce students rave about their experience studying abroad, though, he became enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Like many Queen’s students, Mr. McCann preaches the benefits of international exchanges.

“After studying for five months at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, I emailed the Commerce program and thanked them for encouraging third-year students to study abroad. My time at Queen’s would not have been the same without my phenomenal exchange experience and new international perspective,” he says.

International exchanges expose students to a variety of different cultures. Not only do the students experience their host country, they also learn about many different areas of the world from the other exchange students.

Sonia Gangal recently studied at the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales in Paris for three months. During that time, she worked collaboratively with students from Austria, Russia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

“The exchange was beneficial because the business world is increasingly international and multicultural,” says Ms Gangal, a Master of Business Administration student.

Students usually enhance their exchange by travelling during their free time. Mr. McCann learned as much, if not more, outside the classroom while visiting several European countries.

“What made the experience exciting and memorable was talking with people in different countries that I visited,” he says. “I was able to get a feeling for the local culture through conversations with people in restaurants and cafes.”

Queen's life sciences student Jocelyn Stairs had to adjust to a new culture of learning when she studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland last year.

Students must often adjust to a new culture of learning as well. Jocelyn Stairs, who studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland last year, found that she was required to demonstrate general knowledge about the course material through essays. Ms Stairs, a fourth-year life sciences student, was accustomed to multiple choice tests at Queen’s.

The students say exchanges push them out of their comfort zones and, in the end, help them grow both academically and personally.

“I proved that I could stand on my own two feet and expand my education horizons,” Ms Stairs says.

Studying in Belgium has caused Mr. McCann to rethink what he will do after he completes his commerce degree. He is much more open to working overseas, and he is even considering graduate studies in the Queen’s Master of Global Management program.

Several faculties and departments at Queen’s offer exchange opportunities. For more information, visit the Queen’s international website.

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Last updated at 2:43 pm EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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