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Study Abroad

International Services for Students

Exchange Testimonial: Paris, France

Monday, September 8th, 2014

By Enrique Velazquez Lopez, Exchange to Sciences Po, Paris, France

My exchange took place in Sciences Po, Paris, France during the Spring 2014 semester. While my academic program with Sciences Po ended in early May, my exchange experience does not feel like it’s over, especially because I have developed meaningful relationships with French and international students and people that I met during my stay in Paris with whom I remain in contact.

Overall, my semester in Sciences Po, Paris was very exciting and fulfilling. I learnt a lot and became more confident, flexible, tolerant, independent, and mature. I constantly pushed myself out my comfort zone since I was faced with many challenges that I was not used to in my daily life, such as adapting to Sciences Po modus operandi, familiarizing myself with France and Paris, learning French, and making new friends.

All the planning and resources involved to make my exchange possible made me more organized. Also, all that work paid off, and I could not have invested my time and energy better. I will never forget this experience, and I will always cherish the friendships I made. Moreover, I expanded my academic knowledge and skills since Sciences Po offers a competitive and intellectual atmosphere, which is excellent for networking as well. Although it was not easy to adapt to a new place, the end result was wonderful, unique and exciting.

I recommend to future exchange students to always remain open to all kinds of opportunities, to be positive even when feeling disoriented, lonely, and nostalgic from home, and to focus on making the most out of your exchange because time flies and you will miss it so much when it is over. Hope new students enjoy and learn from the exchange experience at Sciences Po, Paris as much as I did or even more.

Exchange Testimonial: Brighton, England

Friday, September 5th, 2014

By Bianca Lucken, Exchange to University of Sussex, Brighton, England

My experience studying at the University of Sussex was unforgettable. Brighton was beautiful and enchanting with its unique pubs and quaint shops, and the campus was picturesque with rolling pastures just three steps away from my door. However, some of my best memories weren’t spent on campus or in Brighton, but rather, travelling abroad with friends. It was a surreal experience to meet people from across the globe at the University of Sussex. Within a week of knowing each other, we already planned trips for periods up to 3 weeks in length. At the end, I realized that my exchange wasn’t about the academics or living abroad; it was about self-growth and the relationships I fostered. I probably found out more about myself in those 6 months than I ever have. I discovered what I enjoy doing and with whom I can enjoy them.

I learned to take chances and, most importantly, how to be responsible for myself. England provided me the opportunity to visit over 8 countries and create my own agenda. It was not up to anyone else but myself to ensure my safety and my happiness. I really learned how to make decisions for myself and not just follow someone else’s lead.

The trips I enjoyed the most was the weekend in London where we explored the side streets, watched the sunset disappear behind Big Ben, and walked across London Bridge which was alit with red twinkle lights for Valentine’s Day. I also enjoyed the week in Greece where I drove an ATV along the coast of Mykonos. Prior to that, I spent two weeks in Portugal and Italy, visited famous churches in Paris with a friend from home, and shared drinks in a pub in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s those memories that I will cherish forever. It could not have happened if I wasn’t in an environment with like-minded peers at the University of Sussex.

Exchange Testimonial: Paris, France

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

By Justine Mallou, Exchange to Institut d’études politiques de Paris

August 21st, 2013 marks the departure date that soon changed the course of my undergraduate career at Simon Fraser University. I am a third-year student in the French Cohort Program pursuing a double major in Political Science and French. Making the preliminary choice of destination is one of the most important decisions of my exchange experience. There are three main reasons for which I chose Sciences Po in Paris, France. Firstly, it was the desire for pure academic challenge. As a world-renowned Grande École, Sciences Po is one of the top French universities in France which classifies as a leading institution in Social Sciences and Humanities.. Secondly, because the main campus is located in the heart of Paris, I was reassured that on top of taking a full-course load in French, I would also have the opportunity to immerse myself in French culture by living within the central metropolis of the Parisian periphery. Lastly, I had also envisioned creating and establishing numerous ties through meeting different students from all over the world.

During my one-year formal exchange in France, I was aiming for a more enriched and cultural experience where I would have an opportunity to communicate with the local people. I also wanted to improve my spoken French so I rented a duplex to live with a host family. To say the least, my experience was definitely different compared to the majority of Canadian students living either at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP) or those renting a studio with a roommate. I had a fulfilling experience with my host family because they treated me as one of their own and that gave me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in French culture. It was not too long after I realized that being a resident in France is completely different than being a visitor. Tourists who visit Paris for the weekend don’t have the same experiences as the local citizens. While we may all think that Paris is the city of lights and that almost everyone eats a buttered croissant and coloured macaroons for breakfast underneath the Eiffel Tower, the reality of living behind this colourful expectation can be easily hidden. Just like any other city, everyone works hard to make a living – or as the French would say, to win their life.

Having been granted the opportunity to study and live in France was beyond a dream come true. In an academic level, the bar was raised high and to say the least, I was challenged. I was faced with students who mastered the art of exposés. Nonetheless, it was with great pleasure to have been surrounded with like-minded and ambitious students who strive hard to reach their goal. I learned so much not only about international relations but also about intercultural relations through the social exchanges I’ve made with my peers. In fact, one year of formal exchange is already a first-hand experience of diplomacy and exploration. In a personal level, I was encouraged to further develop an open-minded spirit in order to absorb the uniqueness and the diversity of the cultural differences between my peers and myself. I learned the importance of liberty and independence and realized the value of stepping out of my bubble to discover the beauty that lies somewhere once unknown. If you are reflecting about taking part on an exchange program, I can assure you that the best decisions are made when you feel that you will be put outside your comfort zone. Taken from the words of Theodore Roosevelt himself, “Believe you can do it, and you’re halfway there”.

Exchange Testimonial: France–Weekend in Portugal

Monday, October 7th, 2013

By Layla Clarkson, Exchange to Sciences Po Paris, France

If I was in Vancouver and my best friend asked me if I wanted to fly to Edmonton, Alberta for a weekend trip, I would have questioned her sanity. And yet when my new friend in Paris suggested we go to Porto, Portugal for the weekend, a similar distance apart as Vancouver to Edmonton, I immediately told her to, “Sign me up, buttercup.”

Perhaps I was so inclined to go to Porto because it is a beautiful city entirely different from Paris, and because the flights were reasonably priced too. But the root of my decision to go had to do with the little bit of adventure that develops inside every exchange student. And living in Europe there is an expectation to liberate this sense of adventure by travelling often.

I went to Porto with seven other girls from Sciences Po, and it marked my first hostel experience. The hostel had hardwood floors, a modern rooftop terrace and a view overlooking the city. I was told not to expect all hostels to be this gorgeous, but for now I am very comfortable envisioning that this is the way they are. For a little trip we covered a lot of ground; city exploring, market browsing, Port tasting, pastry eating, beach relaxing, and so on. The area where we stayed in was old, with rusty orange roofs and churches from a different lifetime ago. The city was not at all ritzy like what I’ve become accustomed to in Paris–it had its own character that might be described as colorful and laidback.

One of the things I liked the most about the city was the friendliness of the locals who offered us directions when we were lost and wanted to socialize. At night, the young people of the area get together in a square before going out, and we joined them. In this meeting spot, we found our waiter from lunch and we got to know our tour guide from earlier in the day as well. In contrast, bonding with the Parisian locals is difficult; many are sheltered and protective of the groups they already have.

When the trip was over I went straight from the airport to my French test at school… big backpack, airplane clothes and all (a fashion faux pas at stylish Sciences Po). I didn’t do that well on the test, which was a wakeup call I needed. That little adventure inside us exchange students has led me to focus less on my classes, even though I really enjoy them. I am trying now to be more on top of my studies, while still keeping my sense of adventure. Everything is one lesson at a time, c’est la vie after all.

Exchange Testimonial: France–SFU Student Settles in to Life in Paris

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

By Layla Clarkson, Exchange to Sciences Po Paris, France

Before I left for France I would lie awake in bed and try to picture what my trip would be like. I imagined meeting new people and exploring the city, but none of the images in my mind were concrete. This is because I truly didn’t have a clue as to what Paris would be like. Now I am seeing it all firsthand, and it is so much more than I ever expected.

Getting here was the hard part. Applying for my study Visa and trying to get accepted into student housing in Paris was difficile. I am living in a residence separate from Sciences Po called Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris or, as it is more commonly known, ‘Cité U’. The residence is divided into different houses based on nationalities; fittingly I am at Canada House or La Maison des Étudiants Canadiens. To get in, I called and emailed over 15 times for a status on my application followed by more calls and emails to convince them to offer me a room. Often when it comes to French administration, they tend to respond to those who are persistent, and luckily I have some grit in my genes. I had to make a strong case for why I should be here, and for that I was successful. I have had the same experience trying to get into certain classes at Sciences Po. The administrative processes are long and grueling but it is something I will have to get used to, just like the stores closing at lunch time and the French keyboards. But when in Paris do as the Parisians do. Wrong quote? I think I already have visits to Rome on my mind.

Overall from what I’ve seen, the City of Light is beautiful and full of life. I’ve floated down the Seine River on a boat cruise, walked by Notre Dame (no hunchback spotted), discovered a different bar every night, and I have attended class at my posh school in its posh neighbourhood.

The crème colored buildings are historic and lovely; the details on each balcony are uniquely French. But beyond this, I want to focus on how lucky I feel to have already made friends through the Welcome Programme to share these new experiences with.

I’m still in awe about living in Paris, and I do not think it has hit me that I’ve left BC. No homesickness yet, just excitement to bring on the unexpected.

Exchange Testimonial: France—SFU Student Begins Her Journey

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

By Layla Clarkson, Exchange to Sciences Po Paris, France

I knew I was destined to travel to France again ever since I went on a short exchange to Nice, France in high school. It was during my first year at SFU that I began researching study abroad opportunities to get me back to the country of baguettes and berets. Now I am happy to share that I’ve been nominated for two terms as an exchange student to study at Sciences Po in Paris.

This September will mark the beginning of my third year of undergraduate studies in Communication and International Studies. I’m passionate about Nutella crepes, writing and foreign affairs… perhaps in that order.

I’ll arrive in Paris on August 21st and will be blogging regularly about my experience overseas. In fact, I’m no stranger to the blogging world. Previously, I blogged for the Victoria Times Colonist and Hero Holiday website when I embarked on a volunteer trip to Vicente Guerrero, Mexico and helped build houses for families in need.

I also frequently blogged and wrote travel articles in my time as a Public Relations Coordinator for AIESEC SFU. In addition, I was the Faculty Representative on the SFU Communication Student Union (CMNSU) where I ensured that content covered in the school meetings was reported back to the CMNSU and Communication undergraduate students–often via blogging for the CMNSU website.

Stay tuned for updates and photos from what is bound to be my exciting exchange in Paris!

Exchange Testimonial: France

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

By Sarah Marriott, Exchange to Sciences Po Paris, France

With 31 days to go before the end of my year abroad at Sciences Po Paris, I started to appreciate just how much I’ve settled into my neighbourhood and all the little things I’m going to miss. On the list is Kristoff, “my” hairdresser. It’s always a bit of an adventure getting a haircut in a foreign language (French-English dictionaries are your friends – you don’t want anything lost in translation). But in France, it’s a full on cultural experience.

The day was Good Friday and like any good Parisian, Kristoff was heading off early to enjoy an Easter long weekend in the country. Thus, when I arrived for my noon appointment he was enjoying his lunch, complete with a glass of wine, which he continued to sip as he cut my hair (with much panache as always) and bopped back and forth doing la bise (the French two-cheek kiss) with all the customers who come into the shop – “Bonjour Madame Gingras!” And of course he poured me a glass too and I got the low down on all the distinguished older ladies getting their perfect French blowouts around me (and getting crêpes hand delivered to them from the crêperie next door).

Other very stereotypical topics of conversation included: 1. the forced repatriation of Roma to Romania (accompanied by 300 euros each from the French government) (see BBC) – much “ohhhh la la-ing” ensued (the French version of tut-tutting) 2. the recent hold up of an entire metro car by 16 teenagers (see France 24) and 3. President Hollande’s speech on the TV the night before in which he didn’t say very much at all (Kristoff said he was much too busy on the phone with his friends discussing what kind of cheese they were going to bring for their weekend away). Needless to say, I spent most of my appointment trying not to laugh. Oh la France! It’s going to be lovely, but very, very strange to come home.

Exchange Testimonial: France

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

My Week in Krakow

By Eva Szymczyk, Exchange to Sciences Po Lille, France

I chose France as my study abroad country in order to improve my French speaking abilities. I also selected Europe as my preferred continent because, outside of my nuclear family, all of my family still lives in Poland; I saw this experience as my opportunity to reconnect with them. My host university, Science Po University, is located in Lille, a quaint French city situated close to the Brussels border and only a 2-hour airplane-ride away from Krakow, a city located at the south of Poland. Lille’s close proximity to Krakow made my choice of spending Easter with my family an evident one.

I remember being so eager to pass some quality time with my family; I found it challenging to sit still the week before Easter. When I finally arrived in Krakow and embraced my aunt, for the first time in 2 years, I knew that this exchange to France was most definitely the correct decision. I spent the week in Poland baking and cooking an abundant amount of Polish delicacies and dishes. My cousin walked and drove me around the beautiful city of Krakow taking me to Wawel, a castle, the Sukiennice market, and the city centre. Throughout the week I was tracing my mother’s roots and learning about her childhood and lifestyle before her immigration. I felt like I was at home; I call it my home away from home, now.

During my entire 7 months away from my life in Canada, I created so many wonderful memories, all made possible through my choice to participate in the study abroad program; my week in Krakow is only one memory. Each place I travelled to, whether it was to Salzburg in Austria, Dublin in Ireland, Nice in France, or Luxembourg City in Luxembourg, I found myself exposed to an abundance of different cultures, and new foods. Through my 210 days abroad I feel I have acquired a changed perspective on the world, and simply feel blessed to have had the chance to participate in such a life-changing experience.

Image top left: Walking through the main square in Poland, I remember feeling very content; Image middle right: My traditional Polish Easter basket filled with sausages, eggs, bread, horseradish sauce, chocolate as well as sheep, duck, and hen figurines; Image bottom left: Posing with my aunt and uncle on Easter Saturday.

Exchange Testimonial: France

Monday, June 11th, 2012

By Kendra Wingerter, Exchange to Sciences Po Paris, France

Most people are aware that when they go on their exchange term, they are going to meet a few challenges in their new life abroad.  Culture shock, language barriers, getting lost (a lot), making new friends and missing old ones.  It’s a lot of change for anyone to face, even for someone with travel experience and itchy feet.  But what do you do when the bigger shock is coming home?

As an SFU Vancouver student who is originally from Calgary, I knew how hard it is to leave your home and find yourself in a totally unfamiliar city, even if there are tons of fun times and new friends around you.  Since I’d been through the shock of moving away for school before, I knew what to expect when I moved again, and thought that by the end of my 5 months abroad, I’d be absolutely dying to come home to familiar faces and a culture that I’m an expert at.  But the lonely moments, the cultural self-consciousness, and the desire for home never came.  After my first month in Paris (which is where I spent my semester abroad) I realized that the initial challenges of moving hadn’t really affected me that much, and while I considered trying to extend my exchange, I abandoned that idea thinking that even though I wasn’t feeling it yet, by the end of my planned 5 months abroad I would be more than ready to go home.

Then the half-way mark of my exchange came, and then the 4-month mark, and then suddenly I found myself packing my bags to go home, but not feeling too good about it.  I had checked everything off on my Paris bucket-list, and I didn’t feel like my exchange itself was incomplete or lacking, but I liked my little apartment in the city; the hundreds of museums and historical sites that were at my fingertips every day, the luxury of being close to so many other interesting countries, the every-day language learning experiences, and the relaxed pace of French culture.  I had close friends who had become more like family to me, I had favourite coffee shops and hang-out spots, I had daily and weekly routines, and I had gotten really, reaaalllly good at making crepes.

So at first leaving was incredibly difficult.  I stopped in London for a few nights on my way home and during my time there I felt like I was going through the worse breakup ever.  All I wanted to do was lie in bed, and cry, and eat chocolate, and hold a cat.  When I first returned home, the sinking feeling in my stomach was still there, but each day as I saw more and more of my loved ones, went to my favourite Canadian coffee shops, remembered the ease of speaking in my first language, and was reacquainted with the luxuries of living in a modern culture, the idea of being at home was no longer so daunting.

I come out of this experience feeling like a stronger person, now knowing with confidence that I am capable of adjusting to and being happy in a far-away world (which, as an International Studies major, is nice to know).  If I’d stayed in Paris, more challenges would have come; my friends would have gone home and I would have been left back at social-square-one, I would have had to find a new apartment and figure out a way to fund the rest of my stay.  Though I miss Paris, recognizing these challenges has made it easier to leave my life there, because had I stayed, it would have been a very different life anyway.  Instead of regret, I’m trying to channel any feelings of reverse culture-shock into something constructive: I see it as a positive thing that I left my exchange still wanting to be there (it means I had an amazing experience!) and I have now found my motivation to start looking up those Parisian co-op placements.  Whether going or coming, every exchange has its good parts and it’s bad, you just need to focus on the silver lining to find both your feet and your smile, no matter where you are.

SFU Business Student awarded with Worldly Scholarship

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Photo of Jevta Lukic

Simon Fraser University student Jevta Lukic is among eight B.C. post-secondary students to receive the Premier’s One World Scholarship, a provincial award that encourages international education.

Lukic, a fourth-year student at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, is studying this fall at ESCP Europe, one of the world’s top ranked and the continent’s oldest institutions dedicated to business education.

Originally from Serbia and currently living in Burnaby, Lukic is studying for four months in the school’s master in management program. He’ll complete his degree in marketing next year at SFU.

“The scholarship is an incredible gift to me as it allows me to focus on volunteer activities and international pursuits without having to worry about operational costs of a study abroad semester,” says Lukic.

The scholarships, valued at up to $10,000, are awarded annually to support the international exchange of knowledge and culture. They’re funded by the returns on a $13-million provincial endowment for international education.

Lukic hopes to pursue a career in marketing and international business.