Studying abroad is a great way to gain new perspectives, make new friends, learn more about your field and discover new cultures. Here at Westminster there are many ways in which our students can enjoy the study abroad experience including those organised by the Outward Mobility Team. To help you learn more about the team’s exchange programmes, we’ve asked our returning students to answer a few questions about their time away. Many thanks to Marketing Communications BA student Sarah Peck for sharing her stories of her time at Ryerson University, Toronto.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I chose to take part in this exchange due to the many marketing opportunities abroad. I had also previously never visited Canada and so was interested in experiencing a new way of learning and studying in a country that I had never been to before. As I had lived at home during university in London, I also wanted to gain the full university experience of living alone with friends whilst studying. The semester abroad program particularly stood out to me due to it’s shorter duration, as well as still contributing to my final grade at university.
Can you tell us something about your location/university choice?
I chose Ryerson University as it was clearly a popular choice for students in Toronto as well as in Canada in general. The university also had many positive reviews from students in relation to their marketing degrees and so I was aware that by studying in Ryerson, I would be gaining a very useful insight into marketing in Canada as well as being able to be taught by well-respected professors. I chose this location as Toronto particularly appealed to me due to being a big city with a lot to offer. There was always a lot happening in Downtown Toronto making it impossible to ever have a day with nothing to do when not studying. There were also many great facilities at the university itself such as the student learning centre, the library, as well as three gyms for students on campus.
Being a student in Toronto can in some aspects be similar to being a student in London. For example, being in a big city means there is always something happening and places to visit at cheap rates or even for free! For those attractions that are further out such as Niagara falls, there are many cheap buses/coaches that leave from the main terminal in Downtown Toronto making this easily accessible from the university.
For myself choosing Canada, I wanted to study in a place that I may not have necessarily chosen as a place to visit in the future. For me this was somewhere that I never imagined myself visiting and so took the best opportunity that I had. Toronto and Canada in general has so many areas that I wanted to visit such as the CN Tower as well as taking a trip to Montreal and so knew this would be my chance to do so around my studies. Canada has a lot to offer for students both during as well as after university and so also became a place of high interest to me for potentially going back to once I have completed my degree in London.
How would you describe your overall study abroad experience?
My overall exchange experience was incredible and something that I will never forget. I learnt a lot about both myself as well as about my degree program that I believe will strengthen my final year in London. One of the greatest parts of exchange is being able to meet people from all over the world with many interesting stories such as the Canadian students who are able to show you the parts of Toronto that may be less known by tourists and more by Canadians who have grown up in Toronto themselves. There were very few challenging parts of this exchange – apart from the studying and exams – with settling in to the university being easier than I imagined it to be.
Classes were more challenging to become used to, for example understanding the way in which their three-hour lectures were structured as well as the way that work was to be written or how the work is assessed. However whenever I was unsure, all professors were there to explain and guide me through the process.
Because I lived in the residence I did, I was able to meet other exchange students and make friends for life from all over the world. I have learned to be able to live on my own as well as even learning a little of other languages through living with other students from Europe. This wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for this exchange program.
Do you feel like you have developed many marketable skills through studying abroad?
Through this exchange program, I have been able to develop and enhance many skills. For instance, living and learning with people from a range of different cultures has made me more aware of how differently everyone works and how best to bring all ideas together. I have also gained more professional communication skills through interaction with new professors whilst studying, enabling me to gain the best from my classes as well as creating good friendships with these teachers, making my classes more fun and enjoyable. I have also been lucky to gain a greater insight into how marketing varies country-to-country and how best to adapt to this. These are all qualities that I am certain will benefit me in a career upon my graduation from Westminster.
What would be your top tip for students starting their study abroad experience at Ryerson?
For any student considering this exchange, you should most definitely do it. My advice to students taking part would be to always make sure you make the most of time. From day one, go out with other students and explore the city to gain some understanding of your surroundings and take part in all the things you can as the exchange will go by quicker than you can imagine. As a student at Ryserson, you are lucky to be able to watch all university basketball, ice hockey, and many other sporting games for free. Every match has an incredible atmosphere and is a great place to again meet more students. Ryerson university has great ways of involving their students and by doing so you will make so many more friends for life and have a great overall experience at Ryerson. Don’t be afraid to just jump in and enjoy it!
What would you say to someone thinking of studying abroad?
I would recommend studying abroad for both the academic as well as social experience you will have. You will learn a lot not just about your degree but also about yourself that will benefit you so much back home for your final year. Through this experience I have gained a wider knowledge of marketing due to the different subjects they teach out in Canada. If you’re worried at all about the exchange, make sure to research into the university and all the possibilities the university has for you as a student and don’t forget you will have many great teachers both here and in Canada to talk to about any worries at all. So if you’re considering the exchange then I cannot stress enough how much you should do it. You will never regret it.
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