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McMaster student goes on exchange to England

November 14, 2006

Source: McMaster University

by Jo Anne TacordaNovember 14, 2006

Last semester, I had the opportunity to expand my horizons in a way that I know will affect the rest of my life. I was lucky enough to go on a McMaster exchange to the University of Leeds in England.

There, I learned to be more self-reliant, independent, and responsible, all while following my heart and its desire for adventure.

For six months, I was immersed in British culture, enjoyed their idiosyncratic humour, met people hailing from all around the globe and attended a historic university. To put it simply, I had the time of my life.

Making the decision to travel across the Atlantic Ocean was an easy one for me, but getting there took hard work, dedication and determination. I had to take many risks in order to invest in this possibility.

Financially, this exchange was quite challenging, as living abroad tested my spending habits. Being away from my family and friends was also difficult. Luckily, I formed a new family with other international students from many countries, including Australia, Poland, the U.S., France and, of course, Britain.

The British education system was refreshing. Learning in a new environment helped me become more dynamic and open to different teaching techniques.

As for international education, this experience increased my global awareness. Acquiring an appreciation and respect for different cultures is indispensable in this world as countries become more interdependent and globalization brings us closer than ever before. Being away from Canada helped me realize how wonderful my own culture is while making me a better world citizen.

The learning experience continued well beyond the walls of the lecture halls. I got to travel through western Europe. There were always new things to try and places to discover; biking in Amsterdam, eating baguettes in Paris, lying on the beach in Nice, going to the Olympics in Torino, and paragliding in Interlaken.

After being an exchange student, I feel as if suddenly the world has many more opportunities for me, that the world is full of possibilities, and that adventures are waiting to be had.

I would recommend going on an exchange to anyone who lives to learn and has a passion for discovery. The friendships I formed, the places I have been, the exchange experience I had have all shaped the person I am today. Though England is known as a small, rainy island, the experience I had there has certainly brightened my future.

Nov. 13 to Nov. 17th is designated as International Education Week in more than 85 countries around the globe. In keeping with this theme, International Student Services (ISS) at McMaster asked a few students to share their experiences in International Education with the wider McMaster community.

Varied as their experiences have been, they have one thing in common: the enormous and positive impact that going abroad has had on their lives in terms of learning about themselves and the world around them.



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