Traveling to new places is a great way to learn about different cultures, to apply your studies to the real world, and to expand your horizons. Most students would love the opportunity to travel, but fear going alone, using their time unproductively, or spending thousands of dollars. That’s where U of T comes in, by offering a summer abroad program where a student can choose from various participating schools across the globe to earn 1 FCE in just three to six weeks.
Unlike a full year or semester exchange, the courses offered are U of T credits and taught by U of T professors. Students often complain about the large class sizes at U of T, but with summer abroad, the classes are usually composed of about 25 students.
Almost any domestic or international student with at least 4 FCEs is eligible for exchange. The process begins by first applying sometime before mid-February with a $200 application fee. Shortly after, applicants are notified if they are accepted or not and then will have to pay a deposit, followed by the full amount of the program cost before the end of the school year. Only some programs, including Tokyo and Shanghai have certain GPA requirements. Additionally, housing accommodations are set up through U of T and the students generally travel to their destination together. If desired, a student can arrange different accommodations. The classes take place between 9am-12pm Monday–Thursday, with some exceptions. On top of regular classes, there are mandatory field trips that take place outside of class time. These field trips come at an additional cost, which ranges from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars.
Costs vary depending on the country you visit, but for domestic students, it can add up from $6,000 to $11,000. For international students, it can cost between $7,500 to $12,000. While these numbers may seem daunting, there are scholarships and bursaries awarded based on need that can subsidize the cost. You can even apply for OSAP to help fund your experience. Aside from this, there are always ways to reduce certain costs. Traveling to the destination on a cheaper flight, finding different housing arrangements, and arranging your own meals can ease the cost.
To get a more personal perspective on going abroad, I asked Liana Ramos of her opinion on the summer abroad program after her experience taking Shakespeare (ENG220) in Oxford, England.
People go on exchange for different reasons but Liana decided to go because it had been on her mind since high school. Having never traveled internationally, completing a course in England seemed incredibly exciting and fun. Many students like Liana live at home and commute to school, and having never been away from home did cause some anxiety. But since the program was only a month long, it wasn’t as frightening as being away for a whole year. What made it even easier for Liana was the fact that she didn’t have to worry about transfer credits. The program coordinators took care of all the accommodations from flight to housing.
One of Liana’s majors is English, which is what prompted her to pick England as one of the great hubs of all things literary. Shakespeare was reading-intensive and fast-paced, as one would expect due to the time constraints. However, the evaluations were not too difficult and the course placed emphasis on participation. From the experience, Liana learned a lot about herself. The trip gave her a renewed sense of confidence, created lasting friendships, and made her realize that she can face adversity and come back stronger from it.
The summer abroad program is a great way to see the world without being reliant solely on yourself. Plus, you get a full credit! Don’t allow the financial aspect to stop you from applying, first look into getting aid. After all, some experiences come only once in a lifetime.
Featured image courtesy of Marta Perehinets