International Student Centre
Study Abroad 101
Going Abroad: What, Where, When, Why, How
International Student Centre
275 MacEwan Student Centre
Table of Contents
Internationalization page 3
Study Abroad 101 page 3
International Student Centre page 3
What Am I Getting Myself Into page 4
Skills That Make A Difference page 7
Study Abroad Issues page 8
Education Abroad page 9
Study Abroad – U of C Options page 10
• Exchanges page 10
• Spring/Summer Field Schools page 12
• Term Abroad Programs page 12
Study Abroad – Non-U of C Options page 13
• Programs Through Other Institutions page 13
• Direct Registration/Visiting Student page 13
• Resources for Finding Individual Programs page 13
Sources of Funding page 14
Non Study Options page 14
Working Abroad page 14
Volunteering Overseas page 15
Next Steps page 15
Preparation To Go Abroad page 16
What is a Letter of Permission page 16
Sample Letter of Permission page 17
Main offices involved in international programs:
International Student Centre (MSC 275) www.ucalgary.ca/ISC
Student exchanges, Term Abroad Programs, General Study Abroad,
Work/Volunteer Overseas Resources
- Glynn Hunter, Director
- Madelyn Bradley, International Student Advisor
- Study Abroad Advisor
- Fazeela Kayyum, Administrative Assistant
Credit Travel Study Office (MSC 275) www.cted.ucalgary.ca/specialsessions/travel
- Catherine Fisher, Administrative Coordinator
The U of C is committed to the “internationalization” of the campus. This includes faculty
involvement in research collaboration abroad, international faculty, study abroad, work
or volunteer overseas and opportunities on campus to gain an international perspective.
Students are encouraged to spend part of their degree program abroad or, if unable to
leave, to include courses or activities on campus which promote international
understanding and awareness.
Study Abroad 101
Throughout the year, the ISC offers a 45-minute session on overseas options as well as
the “do’s and don’ts” of going abroad. We provide a framework of opportunities and
answer some basic questions about going overseas.
The International Student Centre
The ISC works to provide Canadians with opportunities and information on Education
Abroad activities (including study abroad, volunteer organizations and overseas work
opportunities). We also provide support services for international students related to
their adjustment to the U of C and to Canada and a variety of programs that act as
“bridges” between Canadians and international students.
Programs for Canadians:
♦ Resource library on overseas options
♦ Student exchanges & study abroad options
♦ Departure orientations
♦ Re-entry workshops
♦ Workshops on working abroad
♦ Support to assist students in setting up their own study program
♦ Student Advisors
♦ Exchange Student Handbook for outgoing students
Programs for International Students:
♦ International Student Handbook for new International Students
♦ Airport pickup for new students at first of each term
♦ International Student Orientation: full day workshop
♦ Day trips to local points of interest
♦ Regular email updates
♦ Transition workshops
♦ Student Advisors
♦ Emergency Loans
Programs for Canadians & International Students
♦ Global Friends: social events for International and Canadian students
♦ Language Bank: learn or practice a language with a native speaker
♦ The International Student Centre’s annual International Jeopardy and Photo
♦ Volunteer on campus
♦ Web Page and links: www.ucalgary.ca/ISC
• Canadians Going Abroad: U of C Exchanges, Term Abroad Programs, Credit
Travel Study, Other Study Options, Volunteer Abroad, Work Abroad, Teaching
English Abroad, Departure Orientation, Risk & Safety.
• Prospective International Students, Admitted International Students
• Funding: Funding for Post Secondary Study, Resources on the Web,
Directories of Scholarships & Awards, Institutions Offering Grants, Scholarships
or Awards for the U of C.
Services/Resources for staff
♦ Advising on immigration issues
♦ Sessions on cross-cultural communication
♦ Advising on study abroad policies/procedures
What Am I Getting Myself Into?
The motivation in going abroad varies from one person to another. It may be a wish for
adventure, increased career opportunities, the ability to earn more money abroad than
at home or the desire to learn a language or experience another culture.
What is your motivation? What do you hope to accomplish/experience by going abroad?
Some common objectives for people going abroad are to…
add breadth to their academic program. learn another language.
advance professionally / job prospects. follow family or friends who have been
take on the challenge of studying abroad.
abroad. get away from Canada.
make money abroad while travelling. escape a personal/professional issue.
expand their experiences. hopefully gain some direction.
travel to exotic, foreign places. establish independence/self-reliance.
Are there any issues listed above that you were surprised to see? Are there any that
you are unwilling to recognize as possible motivators for you? Everyone has a wide mix
of emotions and reasons for going abroad and some of these may not be too
comfortable for you but they will influence the experience you have. Be honest with
yourself about why you are going abroad and deal with those issues now. If you wait
until you are abroad, they will not improve.
When did you first consider going abroad? Did you meet someone who had been
overseas, read an article or see some news reports? What was said that attracted you
to the idea of going abroad?
Have you thought about the country where you would like to go? What is there about
that area which attracts you? Have you done any reading or research about this region?
What do you know about the country?
What are some of the challenges you would expect to encounter abroad? Are there
some things that cause you some concern?
What are your expectations in going abroad? This is not an easy question to answer.
Consider what is it you want to be able to do or what skills you want to gain at the end
of 1 year, 2 years, 3 years?
How will this experience enhance your academic career or personal expectations? Is
your decision to go abroad a choice towards a career? Are there specific experiences or
cultural issues you would want to highlight?
Is it important for you to complete your university degree within a specific time or do you
have some flexibility? Would you be able to extend your program for an extra term or
year of study? Would it be of interest to you to take a double degree or a Co-Op?
Some years ago, Stanford University produced a list of things which bother
people going abroad:
♦ Language Barriers: If you are living in a country where English is not widely spoken
and you are unfamiliar with the local language, you may feel isolated and alone for
some time. This will affect your ability to get to know people on more than a
♦ Lack of Mobility: Many countries have more restrictions on freedom of movement
than we are used to. In some cases, travel may be difficult due to a lack of
infrastructure (trains, busses, etc.) or cost.
♦ Indirectness: Most N. Americans consider themselves to be direct in confronting
issues or problems. This is not the case in many countries where conflict is avoided.
♦ Degree of Perceived Formality, Protocols or Rank: We consider ourselves a fairly
informal, equal society but this may be at odds with how things are done abroad.
♦ Slow Pace of Life: In some cases, the pace of life will be much faster than in
Calgary, while in other countries, things move much more slowly. There may also be
issues with getting through bureaucracy and dealing with officials, which will take
some time (and a lot of patience) getting used to.
♦ Social Customs / Expectations: You will experience culture shock to some degree,
everyone does. This happens due to a lack of ability to communicate, not having
familiar customs or events take place, differences in language, religion, etc. Expect
this and accept that it will happen.
♦ Alcohol & Drug Issues: Under stress or pressure, some people begin drinking
more than they normally would or they take prescription and non-prescription drugs
to deal with change. There may be an easy availability of drugs, however many
countries have much more punitive laws to deal with even simple possession.
♦ Health Problems: Make sure you are healthy enough to stand some stress. Small
problems may become major issues abroad.
♦ Emotional Instability: If you are running away from something at home, sometimes
going abroad will only magnify the problem. Make certain you are sure about this
decision and set up a support system for yourself while you are away - regular calls
letters, emails, etc.
♦ Lack of Conveniences: Some of these may include lack of hot water, central
heating, familiar food, etc. However in many countries, you may not experience any
inconvenience, as there will be many facilities available.
♦ Family Problems: Being away from home or family may have an effect on people
going abroad. However, having family with you can also cause strains as they are
going through changes in their environment as well.
What are some personal coping systems that you have which would be of assistance to
you if you were to go abroad? How do you deal with stressful situations?
Are there any issues that have come up for you that you are going to have to work on?
Skills That Make A Difference (Adapted from “Survival Kit for
Overseas Living” by L. Robert Kohls)
There are a number of skills, competencies or qualities which you may have that assist
in a quicker, smoother adjustment to a new culture. Think about some of the different
skills (attitudes, ways of responding to situations & styles of behaviour) that you think
might be useful to help you adjust to an overseas situation.
Experience shows the following qualities to be the most important:
Flexibility / tolerance for ambiguity Motivation
Low goal / task orientation Self reliance
Open mindedness Strong sense of self
Non-judgmental attitude Tolerance for differences
Communicativeness Ability to fail
Flexibility / adaptability Sensitivity
Sense of humour Energy and good health
Warmth in human relations
For each of these items listed above, rate yourself as to whether you possess this
skill/trait. 1=low and 5=high.
Total your score. If you have less than 55, this might indicate that you have some
thinking to do and some things to work on in preparation for going abroad.
What are the five skills/traits/qualities, which you think are most important?
Experience has shown that the three most important skills/traits/qualities for people
going abroad to have are:
Sense of humour
Low goal / task orientation
Ability to fail
Study Abroad: Issues
The reality is that studying overseas will be more expensive than staying home,
but it should not be too much more than living off campus in Calgary plus travel
costs. The cost of one semester abroad will probably be about $7,000 - $9,000 or
$14,000 for two terms (this includes tuition, supplies, living expenses, travel, and
Do you require a Student Loan? U of C study abroad programs allow you to
remain registered at the U of C and collect awards & loans.
Do you speak another language? Is it required for the site at which you wish to
study? There are some sites in non-English-speaking countries with a selection
of courses that are taught in English. Check out all your options.
Names and numbers of courses taken at other institutions may or may not
appear on your U of C transcripts (i.e. Poli363). Instead, transfer courses would
appear as “Sr. Political Science” – “Credit” or “Pass”. Grades will not appear on
your U of C transcript either, however if you fail a subject it does appear as a
“Fail” on the U of C transcript.
The more “option” courses you have available, the easier it is to receive credit for
courses taken abroad. Be flexible.
Grading systems and class expectations abroad may be different from those at
the U of C. Be open to new methods of teaching and learning. There may be
differences in the way you interact with professors at foreign institutions and they
will certainly have their own method of evaluation.
The U of C normally requires students to complete at least 50% of their degree
with U of C courses. Please check with your faculty for any specific requirements.
If you already have transfer courses from another institution, you might have too
many in total and courses taken abroad would be extra to your degree.
Most students go abroad during their third or fourth year, although it may be
possible to go abroad after one year at the U of C. There are some advantages
to going in your third year as this allows you to return to the U of C and finish any
program requirements you need. Other students prefer to go abroad in their final
year after they’ve completed all their required courses, when they can take
mostly option courses. The choice of when you go should be made after talking
with an Academic Advisor.
* Don’t forget to obtain a Letter of Permission BEFORE leaving Calgary. *
Education abroad is a term that refers to an overseas experience taken during a
student’s academic program, whether or not they are receiving course credit. This
includes study abroad or overseas work and volunteer experience.
Exchanges Term Abroad Credit Travel Study Other Programs
Pay U of C tuition Pay U of C tuition Pay tuition and
Pay U of C tuition and fees as well as and fees as well as a fees to host
and fees. Remain a Program Fee. Program Fee. institution at the
registered as a U of Remain registered Remain registered at rates assessed by
C student. at the U of C. the U of C. that institution.
abroad are Classes are U of C Classes are U of C Transfer credit
recognized as courses taught by courses taught by U may be awarded
transfer credit professors at the of C professors for completed
courses to a U of C host institution. abroad. courses.
U of C course U of C course names Students must
Students must names and grades and grades appear have a Letter of
have a Letter of appear on student on student Permission from
Permission from transcripts. transcripts. their Faculty.
An individual group experiences, A group experience. An individual
experience but the travelling with a U Travel with a experience.
host university will of C Academic professor from the U
have advisors to Coordinator. The of C. You decide where
assist you. Czech Republic is you want to go
an individual Travel and and when.
experience. The accommodation
host university has arrangements are
a support office to made by the U of C.
Remain eligible for Remain eligible for Remain eligible for
Student Loans, Student Loans, student loans. Remain eligible
awards and awards and Program has a for Student
scholarships. scholarships. number of $400 Loans.
Go abroad for one Programs are one Programs are Programs range
or two semesters semester, similar to approximately 3-6 in length from a
during the regular the U of C weeks, often during month to a full
academic year. academic year. the Spring or year.
Study Abroad – U of C Options
An exchange program is based on an agreement between the University of Calgary and
another institution to “exchange” students for a semester or a year. The student pays
tuition to their home university and is able to take classes abroad without being charged
foreign student tuition. Students are responsible for paying all other costs: travel, living
expenses, books, etc. Some exchange locations have a language of instruction other
than English. In this case, students must have at least an intermediate language level
before studying abroad.
Students receive support from both the ISC and partner institutions with regards
to registration, housing, immigration documents etc.
Students receive credit towards their U of C program for courses taken abroad.
Contact the ISC to discuss the application process - not all exchanges are
administered through the ISC.
In general, the ISC tries to look at the “whole” student in making selections for an
exchange, taking a number of items into consideration. GPA is important, and we
require a 2.7 (cumulative) GPA to consider an exchange. Some of our partner
institutions require a 3.0 and higher. We also look at academic, personal, work and
volunteer references, whether you have been involved in campus or community groups
and what your reasons are for going (academic fit and career objectives).
The ISC Application* consists of:
♦ The basic application form (available online)
♦ 2 letters of reference (academic required). These letters should be from
professors with whom you’ve taken courses. One of the letters may be from a TA
or high school teacher (if within 1 year) as we recognize some classes are quite
large. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the letters have been received by
the ISC. The references are confidential and should be mailed directly to the ISC
or handed to you in a sealed envelope with the Prof’s signature across the seal.
♦ A 500-word essay: a personal statement on who you are, why this is important
for you, your career or academic plans, etc.
♦ Transcripts: a minimum of 2.70 (on a 4.0 scale) cumulative GPA is required.
Some exchange sites require a 3.0 or higher. If you have attended another
college or university, include transcripts from that institution. If all your post-
secondary schooling has been at the U of C, we will obtain transcripts from the
Registrar’s Office on your behalf.
♦ Work/volunteer references (optional)
♦ Study Site Sheets: preliminary course selections for each exchange site you
choose based on the research you do in looking at the host institution’s Course
Calendar and choosing courses.
You are encouraged to select more then one site as this improves your changes of
being placed on an exchange.
The deadline for Round 1 (for placements in the Fall or Winter Terms) is January 14th
2005. Late applications will be considered for subsequent rounds, space permitting.
There is a $150 Processing Fee for ISC exchanges. This is not an application fee. It is
paid after your nomination (after the interview) by the ISC and prior to your application
being sent abroad to our exchange partner.
A copy of your Letter of Permission must be given to the ISC prior to departure. This is
a standard form that lists the courses you plan to take and what credit will be awarded
* Download the ISC Exchange Application www.ucalgary.ca/ISC/exchanges.html
ISC Exchange Timelines:
• Fall: Attend Study Abroad 101and research exchange sites using web sites or
calendars. Check with your department/faculty to see whether an exchange can
be credited to your degree - whether courses may transfer. You cannot receive a
Letter of Permission until placement is confirmed.
• January 14, 2004: Round 1 applications are due in the ISC for Fall 2005 or
Winter 2006 placements. Late applications will be considered if we are not able
to fill all available places in Round 1.
• February - March: Interviews, Selection of students, Applications sent to partner
institutions, Payment of processing fee.
• April - June: Confirmation of placements for Northern Hemisphere exchanges.
• August - October: Confirmation of placements for Southern Hemisphere
• September - October: Applications accepted for any remaining spaces for
exchange placements in Winter 2006 Term.
Department/Faculty Exchanges (Non-ISC Exchanges):
Exchanges administered by the ISC are open to students from any discipline at the
university. Some Departments and Faculties administer their own exchanges
specifically for majors in that discipline, including Chemistry, Community Rehabilitation,
Economics, Engineering, French, Haskayne School of Business, Law, Sciences, and
These units will have their own criteria for selecting students as well as their own
deadlines. The ISC has a list of available options, or you can check with the advisor in
Credit Travel Study Field Schools
Credit Travel Study offers students alternate learning environments, international
experiences and exposure to diverse cultures while earning credit towards their degree.
Over the years, students have traveled to more than forty countries under the tutelage
of instructors from the University of Calgary. Programs vary from year to year and often
include instructors from abroad.
Programs are typically between two and six weeks in duration
Programs usually offer between two and four half credits from the University of
Programs are primarily aimed at undergraduates with some of the courses
offered at the graduate level
Visiting and international students are welcome and encouraged to apply
For more information, contact:
Credit Travel Study Office
International Student Centre
Room 275, MacEwan Student Centre
Phone: (403) 220-8922
Fax: (403) 210-3869
Or check out www.cted.ucalgary.ca/specialsessions/travel
Approved Sites for 2005:
Antigua – Archaeology Grand Canyon - Geology
Belize – Primatology Japan - Language
Budapest, Hungary - Mathematics London/Bermuda – Insurance
Guinée, West Africa - Dance Mediterranean - Geography
Ghana – Primatology Mexico – Integrated Arts
Ghana- Biology Perú – Latin American Studies
Term Abroad Programs (TAP’s)
Spend a semester abroad taking U of C classes taught by academics from partner
universities. There are three Term Abroad Programs offered:
• China (Winter of each year), maximum 25 students: In cooperation with Nanjing
• India (Fall of each year), maximum 25 students: In cooperation with University of
• Czech Republic (Fall or Winter), 6-10 students per term: In cooperation with
University of Economics, Prague
Courses are U of C courses offered on site. U of C course names and grades
appear on your U of C transcripts. No Letter of Permission is required.
Tuition is paid to the U of C at our course rates for each course registered.
Additional program costs are $5600 (2004) for India and $5700 (estimate) for
China, and include transportation, housing, field trips and some meals. For these
programs you must be enrolled in at least 3 courses.
Additional program costs are $3400 for Prague, and include housing and field
trips. For this program you must be enrolled in at least 4 courses.
Deadline for India is May 1. Check at ISC for deadline for China.
Deadlines for Prague are March 31 for Fall Term and September 1 for the Winter
Check the TAP website
The India, China & Prague TAP Application consists of:
♦ The basic application form
♦ 2 letters of reference (academic).
♦ A 500-word essay: a personal statement on who you are, why this is important
for you, your career or academic plans, etc.
♦ Transcripts: a minimum of 2.70 cumulative GPA is required.
♦ Work/volunteer references
♦ Selection for these programs may be competitive. An interview may be required.
Study Abroad - Non U of C Options
Programs Through Other Institutions
Other universities offer study abroad programs, which are open to outside students
They can be full year, one term, Spring/Summer programs, immersion, etc. You will
register at the other university as a Visiting Student. Tuition, fees and program costs are
paid to the organizing institution. Courses will appear on your U of C transcripts as
transfer credits. A Letter of Permission is required.
Direct Registration (Visiting Student)
You may register for a term or a year as a Visiting Student at most universities around
the world. This can give you access to universities in countries where the U of C does
not have a program established. Tuition and fees are paid to the host university and in
some cases may be 2 or 3 times as much as U of C tuition. Travel and living expenses
are your responsibility. Courses are transfer credit and require a Letter of Permission.
Classes are taken with regular degree students at the host university in the language of
instruction of the country. A Placement Test in the local language may be required.
Resources for Finding Individual Programs:
• Use the ISC web page and links established there, i.e. www.studyabroad.com
• Try out the Queens International Centre’s website: www.queensu.ca/quic
• Many universities and organizations have information on the web - try a search.
Start by getting university names from reference books such as the “International
Handbook of Universities” or the “Commonwealth Yearbook”.
• Look in the Study Abroad reference section at the ISC.
• Check books & calendars in the ISC such as:
• Academic Year Abroad Directory
• Work, Study, Volunteer Abroad
• The Canadian Guide to Working and Living Overseas
Possible sources of funding:
• The Student Finance Board, depending on the program.
• U of C awards and scholarships if you are on an exchange. Check with the
Student Awards Office, MLB 124 about Student Loans & University Scholarships.
• Special Sessions Grants ($400), only for Credit Travel Study Field Schools.
• International Studentships ($500-$1000), for U of C students going abroad for an
exchange, language learning or practical experience.
• AIEJ Awards for study in Japan.
• J. Armand Bombardier Internationalist Fellowships, $10,000 for a minimum of
one year abroad. You should be in your last year of study or a new grad
• CBIE International Learning Grants – all fields of study but priority to areas
focusing on international issues. (www.cbie.ca)
• Service Clubs (Lions, Kiwanis), Community groups, churches, cultural organizations
• Individual fundraising
Non Study Options
Information on working and volunteering abroad may be found in the International
Student Centre. The resource library contains brochures and information on the
programs outlined here as well as many other options.
What skills do you have to offer? What are your interests & hobbies?
What experience or professional qualifications do you have?
What are your career goals?
Do you speak a second/third language?
How long are you prepared to go for?
What kind of salary do you require?
Are you healthy? How well do you adapt to new situations?
Have you travelled before?
Some options/ideas for working abroad:
♦ Teaching English Abroad
♦ Japanese Exchange & Teaching Program (JET) www.jetprogramme.org
♦ CUSO www.cuso.org
♦ World University Services of Canada (WUSC) www.wusc.ca
♦ International Association for the Exchange of Students in
Technology and Engineering (IAESTE) www.iaeste.org
♦ AIESEC www.ucalgary.ca/aiesec
♦ Working Holiday Visas www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/123go/workholiday-en.asp
♦ Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) www.swap.ca
What are your motivations?
How long a placement do you want and when do you want to go?
What financial resources do you have? Are you prepared to fundraise?
Do you speak a second language?
What skills do you have to offer?
Have you travelled before?
Do you want to be with a group?
Some options/ideas for volunteering overseas:
♦ Canada World Youth www.cwy-jcm.org
♦ Youth Challenge International www.yci.org
♦ Canadian Crossroads International www.cciorg.ca
♦ AFS Interculture Canada www.afscanada.org
♦ Voluntary Service Overseas www.vsocanada.org
♦ Arusha Centre www.arusha.org
• Do some research in the ISC on which programs are available. Make sure the
university you want to go to has the programs and courses you want to take!
• Check out the university calendars section as well as the brochures on short and
long term study options. Most information in the ISC can be signed out for either one
or three days.
• Check the Web. Most universities now maintain web sites.
• Talk to a professor as to whether they have any suggestions on locations. They may
know of colleagues doing research or teaching at a site specific to your interests.
• Check with your Faculty Advisor about fitting a session abroad into your academic
program. You should do your research prior to meeting with the Faculty Advisor as
they will want to know what your general plans are. When you meet with the advisor,
make sure you have calendar or course descriptions, credit information and have
listed possible U of C course matches for the classes you wish to take abroad.
• Make an appointment with the Study Abroad Advisor in the ISC.
• Get involved in the ISC – programs offered at the ISC can give you some cultural
preparation for going abroad. As well, your involvement improves the experiences of
international students at the U of C.
Preparation to Go Abroad
The ISC offers pre-departure resources and information. Each term a full day orientation
is held for students going abroad. There are also other specific sessions held
throughout the term. Topic covered include:
- Cross Cultural Awareness - Academic Issues
- Culture Shock - Funding and Financing Study Abroad
- Risk and Safety
What is a Letter of Permission?
A Letter of Permission is a standardized form, which most universities use to permit
It is a letter to the Registrar at the institution at which a student will study. It lists the
name and address of the institution. It instructs the host university to send transcripts to
the U of C. It lists the courses, which the student has permission to take at the host
university and usually indicates what credit will be given to the student upon return to
the U of C.
It is signed by the Associate Dean or Student Advisor of the Faculty in which the student
Students should not leave the U of C without having a Letter of Permission, as this is
the student’s proof that they have the U of C’s permission to study abroad. Students
who do not have a Letter of Permission may find that upon return to the U of C after
studying abroad, they will have been deemed to have transferred to the host university.
They may be required to reapply to the U of C for admission, using their grades while
abroad to determine admissibility.
Starting in 2002 Faculties have been given permission to charge $25 for Letters of
Permission; some Faculties have begun charging and others have not – check with your
Faculty for details.
Please Do Not Leave The U of C Without a Letter of Permission!
Attached is an example of a Letter of Permission.