Perhaps the biggest decision is choosing between English and non-English speaking countries. The easiest way to decide is to be honest about your academic expectations. If you are planning to do serious academic work like a Master’s degree or upper year undergraduate course, you will have a terrible time if you are not fluent in the language you have to write in.
Also, it is worth bearing in mind that different countries have different systems of education so it may not be easy to transfer back to Canada. The English system is very similar to Canada’s so it is a good choice for those that are not fluent in another language. A degree from the UK is very highly regarded throughout the world and can be a definite plus on your résumé.
If, on the other hand, you are more interested in learning a new language, then going on exchange for a year is really the way forward. No amount of language lessons will be able to replicate the experience of total immersion that comes with actually living in a foreign country and experiencing the language in context with the culture.
The first place you should go when researching studying abroad is your school counsellor or international office. They will have loads of leaflets outlining your options and will be able to point you in the right direction. It is best to do this at least a year in advance since there may be pre-requisites in regards to language or you may have to find funding for extended study.
Whatever you decide, you can be sure that your time spent abroad will be some of the most memorable of your life. One of the best things about living in another country is the people you meet. You’ll form lasting friendships, discover both the differences and similarities between your own culture and your adopted one and learn a new language to boot!
There are a variety of programs available ranging from a one-semester exchange to a full three-year undergraduate degree. The options are endless but the key is to be honest about your reasons for going. If you are looking for a quasi-vacation where there is very little academic pressure then perhaps the one-semester options is the best choice since this won’t upset your coursework at home too much.
Those looking for more of a challenge may wish to try a year abroad or perhaps even an entire degree at a foreign university. Be sure to check out our moving abroad resources, and our travel guides for whichever country you may be interested in studying in.
And don't forget to ask any questions you might have in our travel discussion forums and check out our overseas jobs information too!