Brock International hopes to dispel myths about international mobility

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Brock’s International Centre will be hosting a series of International Mobility information sessions to answer some questions about studying abroad.

The next information session will be held on October 3, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at the Dr. Charles A. Sankey Chamber and it will allow students the opportunity to ask questions about studying abroad and allow members of Brock’s International Services (BIS) team to dispel some of the rumours that are often associated with studying abroad.

“I think it’s the perception. When students hear ‘studying abroad’ they think that it might be too expensive or that it won’t be in English, but we want to break down those conceptions and help students navigate the process more truthfully and effectively,” said Jennifer Barton, an exchange and study abroad advisor (ESAA) with BIS.

In fact, when you go to the International Mobility website, on the homepage they have a section where they break down common ‘International Mobility Myths’, like needing to know another language and the perceived high cost, among others.

“I think that when people are thinking about studying abroad, the first thing that comes to mind is money. Many people think that they need extra $10,000’s in the bank but it’s important to highlight that while they may be slightly more expensive, it isn’t as expensive as many think. For our exchange program students pay tuition fees to Brock, when you look at rent and food, those are common expenses that people have while at home,” said Dan Portanova, who is also an ESAA with BIS.

They also will likely take some time to tout the benefits of studying abroad, some of which include its value on a resume, the chance to see and experience new cultures, to gain a new global perspective, to meet new people and to work on improving some transferable skills like self confidence and planning, according to both Barton and Portanova.

However, it is important to remember that moving to a new country requires a great deal of planning and it can also be a huge personal and cultural adjustment for some.

“Despite my best efforts in what felt like over-planning for my exchange, I was not prepared for the level of stress and anxiety that would come in the first month of living abroad,” said Jasper Fisher, a third-year Psychology student at Brock currently on exchange in the Netherlands.

“It is important to remember that your first month or so will not go as smoothly as you plan — no matter how much time you spend preparing, it is highly probable that at least one thing will interfere,” said Fisher. “My advice is to have a back-up plan for everything.”

However, despite the steep learning curve, Fisher notes that with a little determination, his work term has been a positive experience.

“If I had to summarize my entire experience thus far into three pieces of advice for anybody considering an exchange, it would be to say yes to new experiences (within reason), don’t be afraid to do things alone and make sure you actually study and take advantage of the educational resources at your new school,” said Fisher.

“I wouldn’t want a student to hear negative experiences and be turned away. Often when you think of moments when you learned the most and grew in your life it was during points of struggle. Not that we want people to have negative experiences, but if you can turn those into learning moments that is where personal growth will come from,” said Portanova. “We try to say students should prepare as much as possible. We have a lot of students who come in their fourth year and try to cram in pre-departure planning into a few months or a few weeks, but it really does take a lot of time to make sure that when you arrive things are all laid out for you. We help as much as possible with that.”

According to Barton, depending on your program and where you plan on studying, students should start planning at least nine months to a year out from their preferred study period.

Portanova hopes that students will consider travelling somewhere out of their comfort zone, in order to fully take advantage of the opportunity that studying abroad provides. However, regardless of where you want to study abroad, he recommended that students start preparing as early as possible in order to make the whole process go as smoothly as possible.

“I would encourage students to come out to an information session, no matter their year or their program, to find out about the opportunities available to them,” said Barton.

The Brock International Centre will be holding International Mobility Information Sessions on October 3, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Oct. 22 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Oct. 24 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Oct. 29 from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. and November 7 from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. For more information you can find these events on ExperienceBU.

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