Across the Universe: My Semester Abroad

By Emma Bott

Concordia provides a lot of opportunities for its students to go abroad to study or do internships. We have quite a few partner universities all over the world: Nigeria, China, India, Japan, Thailand, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United States, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and Columbia. Concordia’s website provides information about these options to study abroad, and our international office makes getting that information even easier. Concordia also has international internship programs that take place in Washington DC, the Washington Center and Smithsonian Internship Program. For more information on those programs, you can go to the career services team.

The international opportunity that Concordia provided that I chose to take was the Washington Center. The Washington Center is a program that takes place in Washington DC. Participants go to an internship four days a week. They also take an evening class. On Fridays, participants take part in different seminars and listen to different speakers. The program can be either ten or fifteen weeks depending on the time of year you go.

When I first came to Concordia, I never planned on going away for a semester. One of the really cool things about Concordia is that the staff is so helpful in preparing you for your semester away. Going to another country for a semester alone is scary and nerve-wracking, but they give you any information they have that will help and will even put you in contact with other students that have already done what you’re about to embark on.

Washington was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learned so much, and I met so many people, many of which I am still in contact with. I met people in the field of law; it was an experience that has really made me think about my future. I was able to sightsee so much during my time which provided me with so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Of course, it wasn’t always easy; there were some really difficult parts. Like when my phone stopped working, thank goodness for AppleCare.

One of the coolest parts about these international options are the people you meet. You learn so much from talking to them. With social media, you can stay connected to them and keep learning. There is however one downside to having friends everywhere; when something terrible happens in the news – as is common these days – you will worry. A recent example of this are the riots in Virginia over the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee.

So my advice to incoming students is to consider your opportunities. There are probably things you’ve never even considered doing, but if it sounds interesting, at least think about it. Not just for a nanosecond, but really consider it. It might just change your life, as corny as it sounds. I would also highly recommend travelling during your education! You learn so much. It is also a great resume-booster in this globalized world.

I will be giving a presentation later in the semester on about my experience at the Washington Center if this is a program you want to hear more about.

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