Lifestyle

Discover uncharted territory

Turn your dreams of studying, working, and volunteering abroad into reality.

Photo illustration students abroad (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/SAIT Polytechnic)

Photo illustration students abroad (Photo by Andy Maxwell Mawji/SAIT Polytechnic)

There are numerous opportunities available to young Canadians who have the desire to travel and explore international cultures and destinations.

Many have had thoughts of embarking on temporary sojourns to other countries, but do not know how to start planning.

Depending on a person’s tastes, their next spring break could involve learning Arabic and volunteering with children in Morocco.

The website projects-abroad.ca offers an ‘alternative spring break’ program that provides options for alternate ways to spend reading week.

Projects Abroad summer program advisor, Kaisa Partanen, said the spring break program is organized to allow for students to get a lot out of one week.

“In Jamaica, your day could be spent helping to build houses, and your evening could be filled with social activities,” said Partanen.

Projects Abroad offers international volunteer opportunities in over 20 locations worldwide.

Internship programs are also offered in fields such as business, journalism, and healthcare.

Partanen said that some people use the internship program as a way to experience a field that they are interested in but have not yet studied, and that placements vary.

A journalism intern could find him or herself working at a newspaper, magazine, radio, or television station in Bolivia, Ghana, China, or India to name a few.

Of the language barrier, Partanen said that although some placements require intermediate language skills, there are many that do not.

“There are newspapers in China that are entirely in English, so in that case, one would not need to speak the native language,” she said.

If one is concerned about safety whilst abroad, Projects Abroad has offices in all of its locations, and the organization ensures that the countries they send volunteers to are politically stable.

With safety concerns aside, there are numerous benefits to an international work or study experience, and SAIT student Lucianna Dykstra, who participated in a ‘study tour’ to Singapore, cited learning about cultural similarities and differences as a main benefit of her study abroad experience.

“We [various international students] had so many conversations about languages, cultural norms, and food,” she said.

Dykstra, who is a second-year administrative information management student, participated in a study abroad program last summer from June 13 until July 5.

Dykstra chose Singapore because it is in a region of the world she knew little about and has never travelled to.

“I also considered the cost of the trip versus length of the trip and found Singapore to be most ideal, compared to the other locations offered by SAIT,” she said.

Although cost was a factor in Dykstra’s planning, she encourages students to not let lack of finances thwart their desires to venture overseas.

“There are bursaries available, and the experiences you undertake while in a different country far outweigh the problems of finance,” she said.

Dykstra would like to participate in another study abroad opportunity, and Australia is next on her list of desired destinations.

SAIT Study Abroad offers information sessions throughout the year, and the next one will be held Jan. 14, from noon to 1 p.m. and Jan. 15, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to these travel options, Alberta Abroad and the International Education office of Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education ministry both offer international internships to Alberta residents and recent graduates.

Lastly, for those who are interested in a working holiday not related to their studies, swap.ca may be the answer.

The agency offers information on international internships and working holidays that can last up to two years, and one does not have to be a student to participate in the working holidays.

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