During the first semester of her fourth year, St. Thomas University student Amanda Kennedy went to South Korea as part of an exchange. Kennedy, who is studying English language and literature said it was a once in a lifetime chance to make amazing memories.
She said she decided to travel there since she has an interest in the culture.
“What I enjoyed the most about the trip was being able to experience life and culture from another perspective,” Kennedy said in a Facebook message.
STU’s travel-study program offers exchanges to Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, England, France, Japan, Malta, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. These exchanges allow students to learn about different cultures and languages, while also earning academic credits.
According to Carrie Monteith-Levesque, STU’s international student coordinator, going on an exchange enhances a student’s education.
“We’re looking at globalization in general and how it favours students when meeting new people, new cultures, new languages and the students come back as different people,” she said.
The trip allowed Kennedy to experience things she couldn’t have done from her hometown of Fredericton.
“It was fascinating to see how others lived on the other side of the world and to experience so many amazing historical spots and to try the food.”
Kennedy said the culture shock was her least favourite part of the exchange.
“Being immersed in a new culture and language was both eye-opening and stressful at times, but definitely worth it.”
Kennedy said preparation is key to enjoying an exchange.
“If you prepare properly, then you will not be as stressed and can enjoy your time more,” she said.
When asked if she would go on an exchange again, Kennedy said she would.
“What I gained from studying abroad in South Korea was a once in a lifetime experience to live day-to-day in another country,” she said.
“I got to meet people I would never have gotten to meet otherwise and share experiences and memories with them that I will treasure for a lifetime.”
Emily Douville is a third-year romantic languages student doing an exchange in Angers, France. She said her favourite thing about her exchange is experiencing a different culture.
“My favourite thing about my trip is waking up every day and hearing beautiful French and walking past beautiful Parisian architecture on the way to class,” said Douville in a Facebook message.
Although she loves the culture, Douville has struggled with the different language. She often finds herself not understanding conversations.
“I’m learning quickly to have patience with myself and to not be as nervous when speaking,” she said, “I now forget to think in English sometimes.”
Douville said travelling abroad has taught her a lot about herself and her identity as a Canadian, and she loves being able to travel to Paris in two hours. Sometimes homesickness gets to her, but she fights it by exploring new places and meeting new people.
“It’s life changing and delightful just being here,” said Douville.
Nahomi Lopez is a STU graduate who went to France during her final year to do an exchange. Still living in Paris, Lopez said she finds life hard sometimes, but she feels like her life is a movie every day.
“What I liked the most was the opportunity of doing an internship while studying abroad in my third language,” Lopez said in a Facebook message.
Lopez said her program was difficult and she didn’t think doing her exchange during her last year was a good idea. But she said becoming multilingual was the greatest asset she gained.
“To truly understand a culture and to gain the most of the living abroad experience, knowing the language makes every experience more valuable, and knowing a third language just multiplies my opportunities times three.”
Lopez said students who are given the chance to go on an exchange should always take it.
“Go abroad, study a new language, take risks. It’s always worth it.”