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Internationalization

Warm winter welcome

[Olumide Bolu]
Olumide Bolu, international student advisor with the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC), answers a question during an orientation session for newly-arrived exchange students. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Consider it a Queen’s winter ritual: Exchange students from around the world arrive on campus in the dead of winter and try to settle in to a new university and a new home.

Making the transition can be exciting for students. Add in the biting cold of January, and all that a different culture can bring, and the transition can feel more like a challenge.

Fortunately, at Queen’s the new arrivals have a number of resources they can call on, with the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) taking the lead.

The majority of exchange students arrive the week before classes begin and this is the time for them to explore and learn about Queen’s, Kingston and Canada.

One of the people providing a helping hand is Olumide Bolu, an international student advisor at QUIC. He knows what the students are going through. Arriving in Canada from Nigeria in 2003, he made the transition himself and now helps prepare and guide international students at Queen’s.

Some of the challenges are still the same he says – dealing with the cold, travel documentation and health care – but there are others he doesn’t always anticipate as the role is “always evolving.” 

“When you look at the different groups of international students, they have different needs. Exchange students are typically here for one semester so it’s critical that they transition quickly and have a good experience in Canada,” Mr. Bolu says, adding that while international students pursuing a degree are at Queen’s longer, they also have more invested in being here. “So transitioning is key for all these categories of students and what we do here at QUIC is helping them transition successfully.”

While the resources at QUIC and its campus partners are available throughout the year, the first week is key to building a solid foundation. QUIC offers a number of workshops such as “Learning to Love Winter” and orientation sessions are held as well. 

The success of an exchange, of course, isn’t just about the classroom. But again there is support available to help foster new relationships with the university and with fellow students.

“One major concern international students have, including me (when I was a student), is the ability to make friends,” Mr. Bolu says. “It can be very difficult, so a lot of programming at QUIC is designed around social networking.”

To help make students make connections QUIC hosts events such as a games night, a movie night and trips to gain a more Canadian experience.

For a full schedule of events and more information, visit the QUIC website.

 

A positive exchange

[QUIC Winter Orientation]
Newly-arrived exchange students from the Faculty of Arts and Science show off their tricolour scarves and mittens during the QUIC orientation session on Thursday, Jan. 5. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

For exchange students arriving at Queen’s for the winter term, it’s the beginning of a new learning experience.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, an orientation session was hosted by the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) for exchange students from the Faculty of Arts and Science to provide some basic information about life at Queen’s and in Kingston, such as the resources that are available from the many campus partners.

In a Queen’s tradition, the students also received tricolour scarves and mittens donated by the Campus Bookstore as they face the Canadian winter.

Ella Jansen has returned to Canada from the Netherlands after visiting Vancouver and Calgary two years ago. She was drawn to Queen’s by the broad range of courses available.

She’s looking to explore and discover more about Canada through the exchange.

“At University College Utrecht I am already in an international environment but there are a lot of Europeans there and a lot of Dutch people,” she says. “I feel like we don’t have a lot of Canadians there, or North Americans, so I would like to explore these cultures and get more stories from these students, so an even more international view.”

Kim Yeung arrives from Australia and says she is a bit concerned about the winter weather. While her hometown Canberra can dip to about the freezing point, she says she can’t imagine what temperatures of -25 C or -30 C will be like.

She arrives at Queen’s on the recommendation of a friend who studied in Sweden and met a fellow exchange student from Queen’s.

She says she’s excited by the prospects the university offers, both inside and outside the classroom

“I definitely know there are a lot of social events at Queen’s but there is also a really strong sporting community and when I heard about the free gym I thought that was great,” she says. “I walked around campus (Wednesday) and there’s some really good facilities.”

QUIC is currently offering extended hours, including this Saturday and Sunday, from 1-7 pm. All newly-arriving international students are invited to a welcome to the QUIC social on Sunday, Jan. 8, 5:30-7 pm, where light supper will be served.

For a full schedule of events and more information, visit the QUIC website.

OceanPath Fellowship applications open until Jan. 12

Graduating full-time students are invited to apply for the OceanPath Fellowship.

The fellowship provides students from partner universities, including Queen’s, community-based experiential learning opportunities designed to help them become active and effective changemakers. Successful candidates may receive up to $25,000 to implement their idea for a project that would foster sustainable and positive social change in communities around the world.

More information about the OceanPath Fellowship, administered by the Coady Institute, is available through the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC). Applications are due Jan. 12.

The Gazette has profiled several past and present fellows, including Nicole Townsend and Adam Beaudoin, and Jennifer Langill.

Representing Canada on the world stage

Queen’s cardiologist Chris Simpson named Canadian Medical Association representative to World Medical Association.

[International logo]
Queen's in the World

When Queen’s cardiologist Chris Simpson’s term as past president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) came to an end earlier this year, he looked for new opportunities to continue playing a leadership role in guiding the medical profession in Canada. Beginning in 2017, he will have the opportunity to do so as the CMA’s representative to the World Medical Association – an international confederation of 112 national medical associations, representing 10 million physicians around the globe.

“I was pretty delighted to be elected by the CMA Board to serve in this new role,” says Dr. Simpson. “In my previous role (as CMA President) the issues were predominantly Canadian and nationally-based, but Canada has a lot to offer the world in terms of our science, our excellence in medical education and training, and our work on professionalism. In a number of the issues we’ve been grappling with – from medical aid in dying to medical marijuana - Canada has been very progressive. It’s an opportunity to share that with the world and one I’m looking forward to.”

[Chris Simpson]
Dr. Simpson has been elected to a four-year term as the Canadian Medical Association's representative to the World Medical Organization - an partnership of 112 national medical associations which aims to promote international excellence in medical education, ethics, and health care. (Supplied photo)

As the CMA Representative, Dr. Simpson will represent the voice of Canada’s physicians in tackling many of the pressing medical issues facing the global community. He explains that he is most looking forward to getting involved in issues around refugee health and supporting physicians working in war zones. The association is also heavily invested in the social determinants of health - including poverty reduction, access to clean drinking water, food security and early childhood education.

“The association presents a unique opportunity for all of organized medicine – at least in those 112 countries – to come together to see how they can be better than the sum of their parts” Dr. Simpson explains. “There’s a real sense of responsibility for the more technologically and economically developed nations – such as Canada, the UK, Germany, Japan, the US and others – to share their expertise with countries that don’t have that sort of infrastructure and help develop medical education to a higher standard around the globe.”

Dr. Simpson will serve the first two years of his term in an observer role alongside current representative Louis Francescutti (University of Alberta). This transitory period, similar to the dual roles of president and past president in the CMA, allow for the incoming member to get acquainted with the role while maintaining continuity. From 2019-2021, he will fully take over the representative role at WMA meetings around the globe.

“Dr. Simpson is a highly respected and skilled physician who has shown tremendous leadership as a voice for the medical profession in Canada,” says Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Medicine. “I wish him my most sincere congratulations on this appointment and trust that he will serve as a strong advocate for Canadian physicians to the global medical community.”

Founded in Paris on Sept. 17, 1947, the World Medical Association was created to ensure the independence of physicians. Its mission is to serve humanity by endeavoring to achieve the highest international standards in medical education, medical science, medical art and medical ethics, and health care for all people in the world.

For more information on the WMA, please visit the website.

A warm coat for all students

Heather Poechman (Artsci’17) got the idea for the Queen’s Winter Coat Exchange after she came back from an exchange in Morocco and began working as a peer adviser in the International Programs Office. The extremes of Canadian weather often came up in conversations with other students, both domestic and international, and she realized that there was a need among students for affordable or free winter gear.

Heather Poechman (Artsci'17) started the Queen's Winter Coat Exchange, which operates out of the Room of Requirement in the John Deutsch University Centre. (University Communications)

 

“For international students, it’s already a big expense to come and study in Canada. To add hundreds of dollars of winter gear to their budgets is a big burden,” says Ms. Poechman. “Sometimes, students will say they ‘have lots of sweaters,’ or they’ll ‘tough it out,’ instead of buying a coat. That sparked the idea of starting the Winter Coat Exchange.”

 

Now in its first year, the exchange offers coats, hats, mittens, and scarves – anything washable – to all students, both domestic and international, for free. Ms. Poechman is collecting donations for the program – lightly used winter coats and accessories in good condition – from individuals and businesses. She has already received a donation of a new coat from Kingston clothing store Cloth.

 

“The response has been really great so far, and I’m hoping that as the really cold weather sets in over the next month or so, we will receive more donations,” she says.

 

“The idea is that students can have the gear until it’s no longer needed. Exchange students may only need a coat for four months, but others may need it for four years. Either way, we simply ask them to return it when they don’t need it anymore.”

 

The Winter Coat Exchange operates out of the Queen’s Room of Requirement, Room 238, in the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC). All donations can be dropped off at the Room of Requirement (open Monday-Friday, 8 am-midnight) and students looking for gear can drop by anytime during those hours. Ms. Poechman is also happy to collect donations from units or individuals across campus. Contact her via email at heather_poechman@zoho.com.

 

More information about the exchange and the Room of Requirement is available on Facebook.

Driven to make a difference

[Claire Gummo]
Claire Gummo, a fourth-year Political Studies and Gender Studies at Queen's, has been selected as one of Canada's 11 Rhodes Scholars for 2017. (Supplied Photo)

When Claire Gummo found out that she was officially a 2017 Rhodes Scholar, her first call was to her mother.

Still reeling with the shock of seeing her dreams come true, the fourth-year Queen’s student wanted to share the moment.

“I called my mom - who raised my brother and me as a single mother – right away and I told her ‘Mom, all on your own you raised a Rhodes Scholar,’” she says.

Then the two had a good cry together.

Each year 11 Canadians are selected for Rhodes Scholarships, the most prestigious academic awards in the world. Created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the scholarships cover all costs for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. The scholarships are awarded to students on the basis of high academic achievement and personal integrity, who are also expected to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

Ms. Gummo, a Political Studies and Gender Studies student, is the university’s 57th Rhodes Scholar. At Oxford she plans to pursue an MPhil in Comparative Social Policy, studying the impact of sexual violence, and specifically sexual violence policies in security organizations.

While she may have been shocked to be named a Rhodes Scholar, it is not entirely surprising to those who know her.

The Calgary native arrived at Queen’s in 2013 as an Applebanks Loran Scholar, Canada’s largest scholarship awarded to 30 students each year. She is also a recipient of the Queen’s Excellence Scholarship and has been recognized on the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science’s Honour List with Distinction, with grades placing her in the top three per cent of all arts students.

Ms. Gummo’s drive to excel academically, and to make a difference in her community, were instilled by her mother.

“My mother has been an absolute inspiration for me,” she says. “I think growing up in a single-parent home you get a lot of indicators from society that tell you should feel underprivileged. But my mother refused to let our family feel that way. Right from the time that I was a very little girl she always instilled in my brother and me a sense of gratitude and a call to service. That, throughout my life, has been a driving force.”

At Queen’s, Ms. Gummo quickly became involved in the Kingston and university communities.

In her first year, she started to volunteer at the Sexual Health Resource Centre, taking part in the Accompaniment Service, supporting and accompanying clients to Kingston General Hospital if a medical evidence kit was required after an experience of sexual violence.

This had a tremendous and lasting impact on her, she explains. Since then she has set out to make a difference.

“In terms of sexual violence, for me, Queen’s is home and I want everyone to feel safe, welcome, and that they can engage in university life to the fullest,” she says. “I strive for a day when sexual violence is no longer a part of the university experience. That being said, I am encouraged by the fact that I am just one of many students and advocates who are working to make a future free of sexual violence a reality.”

Starting in 2015, Ms. Gummo has led a team of students in the delivery of a bystander intervention training program aimed at mobilizing the Queen’s community to recognize and prevent sexual violence. As a result more than 2,000 students have received the training since August. She also is a student representative on the Provost’s Implementation Team on Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence, as well as the associated Working Group, where she has assisted in the development of Queen’s sexual violence policy.

Academically, Ms. Gummo says that she is fortunate to have found a mentor in Stefanie von Hlatky (Political Studies), the Director of the Centre for international and Development Policy.

“She’s really guided my academic journey around women, peace and security, and in particular I found this personal and academic interest in sexual violence,” she explains. “At Oxford I would like to merge my two interests: on the one hand the social-cultural role of sexual violence and then, on the other hand, of defence and security organizations.”

Having now been named a Rhodes Scholar, Ms. Gummo is keenly aware of the people and organizations that have helped her along this journey.

“Above all else, I am deeply grateful to both Queen’s and the Loran Scholars Foundation for the support and sense of community they have provided to me over the last four years,” she says.

To learn more about the Rhodes Scholarship, visit the Rhodes Trust website.

More about the Loran Scholars Foundation can be found online.

Highlights from International Education Week

  • QUIC lunch
    Students and staff enjoy lunch – Nigerian bean soup – at Queen's University International Centre (QUIC) during International Education Week.
  • QUIC lunch-2
    Enjoying lunch at QUIC, during International Education Week.
  • QUIC World Link
    QUIC volunteer Josh Zhang was on hand during International Education week to promote the centre's World Link Program. (QUIC photo)
  • IPO-1
    The International Programs Office (IPO) celebrated 20 years at Queen's last week. IPO staff in this photo: Haley McCormick, International Programs Assistant; Mary Marshall, Study Abroad Coordinator; Laura Esford, International Programs Manager; and Janice Tough, Exchange Study Abroad Program Assistant.
  • IPO-2
    Celebrating 20 years of international education at the International Programs Office.
  • IPO-3
    Principal Daniel Woolf chats with Kathy O'Brien, Associate Vice-Principal (International), at left, the IPO's Haley McCormick, and Aleksandra Popvik, peer adviser in the IPO, right. (Oshaen-Lynn Swartz photo)
  • IPO-4
    Members of the QUIC staff step into the celebratory photo booth at the IPO event last week. (Oshaen-Lynn Swartz photo)
  • Exchange Fair
    Representatives from the University of Tübingen, Germany, were available to speak with students at the International Exchange Fair held in Wallace Hall last week. Tübingen is a member, along with Queen's, of the Matariki Network of Universities. (Oshaen-Lynn Swartz)

During International Education Week – Nov. 14-18 – the Gazette featured several stories on activities and initiatives helping to advance Queen's international priorities.

Those stories include:

Queen's in the World

Queen’s launched its Comprehensive International Plan in August 2015 to support its internationalization efforts. The plan’s goals include strengthening Queen’s international research engagement and creating more opportunities for student mobility through academic exchange and study-abroad programs. The plan also aims to attract high-quality international students to Queen’s and to increase international educational opportunities on Queen’s campus.

In the past year, the university has seen the number of undergraduate students participating in international exchange increase by nine per cent, while the number of international exchange students on Queen’s campus increased by 22 per cent. Several new international collaborative academic programs were initiated, including a dual-degree opportunity at the master’s level through Smith School of Business, with ESSEC Business School Paris-Singapore, a dual research degree in chemistry at the master’s level with the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and a “2 + 2” program, which will see  undergraduate students from Beijing Normal University transfer to Queen’s for the final two years of their program in the field of biology.

For more information on International Education Week activities and other campus international initiatives, visit the International website.

 

 

 

 

Viewpoint: BISC's cycle of experiential learning

During International Education Week – Nov. 14-18 – the Gazette is featuring several stories that highlight activities and initiatives helping to advance Queen’s international priorities. For this piece, the Gazette asked Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), to write a feature story on one facet of teaching and learning at the BISC. This article highlights the BISC's "signature pedagogy": experiential learning.

Queen's in the World

Anyone fortunate enough to have visited the British Museum – or any of Europe’s other great cultural institutions – knows that they will have to fight their way through laggard groups of students who are bored and uncomprehending, or frozen to the spot in wonder by what they are seeing, but unable to process it. At its worst, undergraduate experiential learning may be nothing more than a remnant of the 19th-century Grand Tour: a box-ticking exercise in confirming one's status as a "cultured" person with no deep critical engagement implied. “Exit via the gift shop,” as Banksy put it.

But these hazards of learning beyond the classroom are not inevitable. In fact, they may simply be the product of miscalibrated teaching created by a deficit in specific support for instructors. Unless instructors are trained in the theory and practice of teaching experientially, they are unlikely to maximize their classes' learning on these occasions. Unless students are made self-conscious about the process and outcomes of learning experientially, then instructors cannot blame them for their difficulties. 

During the first weekend of the term, students at the BISC take a walking tour of London and learn about the city's social and architectural highlights. (Chantal Valkenborg photo)

Experiential learning is the Bader International Study Centre's signature pedagogy, and our active learning approach in the field aims both to get our students thinking critically about core course content and to create transferable skills that will serve them in the long term. Ruth Cereceda, who heads our Experiential Learning program, has offered professional development sessions for our instructors to help them understand how to teach in the different modes required for such activities and to set appropriate learning objectives. She has also talked with students to help them take on board the cycle of experience > reflection > abstract conceptualization > active use of learning in assignments and skills development. Surveying of students and faculty, and analysis of the resulting data, is used to assess and refine future activities.

All of this careful preparation has produced striking results. For instance, the students on our core first-year course, BISC 100, have undertaken primary research at the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex looking at what Britons understood to be their core values during the Second World War. Students had to engage critically with original documents in projects that compelled them to go beyond the thrill of having history in their hands.

Other experiential opportunities teach things that will be useful for life, such as the ability to use skills beyond their usual application. A great example of this was the math trip to “The Amazing World of M.C. Escher” exhibition, which guided students to deploy mathematical techniques to analyze the production of this artist’s unusual images. Indeed, much BISC field work centres on developing students’ ability to interpret images: a key skill for the digital age. 

All of these experiential opportunities for students are, in students’ own estimation, highly motivational and memorable academic moments. One participant in our 2016 Law and Politics field school noted that after the careful preparation he had in class for their visit to Auschwitz concentration camp, “physically standing in the space meant that any distance between the topic of study and the present day instantly disappeared.” This visit produced memorable written work that went beyond standard views of this subject and spoke decisively to why the BISC experiential learning program will be at the heart of our future programming.

 

 

A major step forward

Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds help researcher build international team to learn more about how the structures of the foot allow for movement.

Queen’s researcher Michael Rainbow (Mechanical Engineering) is seeking to gain greater insight into the function and design of the human foot. With support from the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds International Fund, Dr. Rainbow has made great strides in developing collaborations to further this research.

[Michael Rainbow]
Queen's mechanical engineer Michael Rainbow is partnering with researchers around the world to examine the structure of the human foot. Their project is supported by a grant from the Queen's Research Opportunities Fund. (Supplied Photo)

“The human foot is an incredibly complex structure,” says Dr. Rainbow. “Much of what we think we know about how it functions comes from examinations on cadavers. Only recently has technology advanced enough to allow us to track the movement of the bones and activation of the muscles of the foot in real time and in 3D. We’re learning that the foot is far more multifaceted and dynamic than we thought previously.”

In collaboration with researchers from the University of Queensland, INRIA in France, and Brown University, Dr. Rainbow will work to analyze the biomechanics of the arch of the foot, as well as to gain a better understanding of the structures that modulate and control the stiffness of the arch. By analyzing the movement of the individual bones, ligaments and muscles in the foot, in context with full body movement, Dr. Rainbow and his colleagues will advance understanding of the neuromuscular and mechanical function of the foot and its contributions to the human musculoskeletal system.

[Foot Render]
A rendering of the bones and support structures of the foot. By learning more about how these structure allow for movement, Dr. Rainbow and his team can assist the development of more functional prosthetics, as well as rehabilitation or injury prevention techniques. (Supplied Rendering)

“By gaining a better understanding of how the structures of the foot transfer energy during motion, we will be able to design prosthetics that function more like a foot than the current designs,” he explains. “We’ll also be able to better understand what causes common injuries – such as plantar fasciitis – with an eye on prevention and more effective treatment.”

Their research has applications in improving the design of prosthetics that can better mimic the function of the structures of a foot, as well as provide insight for podiatrists and others who study chronic injuries. Finally, by partnering with an array of diverse institutions around the globe, Dr. Rainbow is also strengthening the relationships between the Human Mobility Research Centre at Queen’s and his collaborators in the United States, Australia, and France – something he credits to the QROF.

“The support we’ve received from the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds has been crucial to forming partnerships with institutions around the globe, and bringing top researchers together for this project,” says Dr. Rainbow.

The inaugural Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds were launched in 2015, and are awarded in four categories – the Research Leaders’ Fund, the International Fund, the Arts Fund and the Post-Doctoral Fund. The funds represent an internal investment in the research enterprise, and provide researchers and scholars financial support to accelerate their programs and research goals.

The deadline to submit a letter of intent for the 2016-2017 competition is December 1, 2016. For more information, please visit the website.

Peer advisers provide crucial link to experiences abroad

During International Education Week – Nov. 14-18 – the Gazette is featuring several stories that highlight activities and initiatives helping to advance Queen’s international priorities.

Queen's in the World

When Brianna Mackey (ConEd’18) left for Ireland to study for two semesters at University College Dublin last year, she was extremely excited, as well as anxious and nervous.

Dreaming about studying abroad is one thing. Actually doing it is quite another. There were myriad schools and countries to consider, meetings with professors, forms and documents to obtain and fill out, finances to organize, as well as housing and travel arrangements. The process can be daunting.

So, when Ms. Mackey returned to Queen’s in May, ecstatic about her life-changing experience abroad, she jumped at the chance to become a peer adviser for students considering an international exchange opportunity.

Brianna Mackey (ConEd'18), second from left, visits the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland while studying at University College Dublin. Ms. Mackey is now a peer adviser in the International Programs Office at Queen's. (Supplied photo)

“I had such a remarkable time and didn’t want it to end – so I decided to share with students how much I loved the experience and to also help walk them through the process and keep them calm,” she says.

The peer advising program, run by the International Programs Office (IPO) at Queen’s, is designed to pair students interested in exchange with a returned student who is familiar with the process. Peer advisers work with prospective and nominated exchange students to help them navigate the exchange program. They share their experiences with students one-to-one and at information sessions on campus.

“The peer advising program is of tremendous importance to our student outreach. It complements our marketing efforts but more importantly it provides a venue for returned students to reflect and articulate their experiences – both positive and negative,” says Laura Esford, International Programs Manager, IPO.

“We were concerned that we weren’t providing enough opportunities to contextualize the experience for these students, so our unit began to look for ways to allow students to unpack this experience. We provide an office space, appointment schedule, and comprehensive training program for the peer advisers. The response has been overwhelming. They play a mentoring role, they’re honing their soft skills, and are helping the IPO shape its programming. Plus they bring a delightful energy to our unit.”

Helping students make big decisions

Ms. Mackey says that one of the biggest steps is choosing which school to go to. “There are so many schools that Queen's has an affiliation with and you have to rank your top-choice schools. I made a lot of pros and cons lists in order to narrow down the schools I wanted to apply to, based on course offerings, cultural components, and travel.”

When she meets with students planning to go to the same Dublin exchange program she attended, she helps them through the application process and advises them on some of the courses she took, her favourite cultural aspects of Dublin, and extracurricular activities.

Heather Poechman (Artsci’17) chose Morocco to complete her third year, where she attended École de Gouvernance et d'Économie de Rabat.

“The whole experience was wonderful and challenging. Every aspect of society was different from what I had grown up with. There was definitely culture shock,” says Ms. Poechman, who studies philosophy.

When she was going through the process, she recalls how helpful the IPO was, and she wanted to return the favour to prospective exchange students.

Luke Van Ryn (Artsci'17), shown in the Scottish Highlands, spent a semester at the University of Edinburgh and is now a peer adviser in the International Programs Office. (Supplied photo)

“Students can get into quite a panic as they’re preparing to go and I am happy to see the look of relief on their faces when I’ve offered advice,” she says.

One student she’s working with now is bound for Morocco soon, and after so many meetings and discussions, Ms. Poechman feels she is part of her journey. “I know that I have helped her to not only feel comfortable choosing Morocco, but I have helped assuage her fears about grades, culture shock, classes, transfer credits, how to talk to an academic adviser ... anything and everything related to exchange.”

Art history student Luke Van Ryn (Artsci’17) feels the same way. He returned from a semester at University of Edinburgh in Scotland last May. As he walked the streets of Edinburgh, visited landmark architectural sites, and soaked up Scottish culture, he began to feel like a local. “I loved the experience so much and the place began to feel like home to me.”

Mr. Van Ryn wanted to offer his knowledge to prospective students and help them to understand that while the process is stressful, it’s definitely worth it. “It’s not the easiest thing to do but you won’t regret the effort,” he says.

In fact, the one thing all three returning exchange students agree on is the richness of the experience – they all encourage anyone thinking about an exchange program to at least come into the IPO and see what the options are.

“It’s a life-changing experience. You come back a different person,” says Mr. Van Ryn.

For more information about exchange programs and the peer advising program, please visit the IPO website.

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