Canada: A study of a bilingual country which gave a new perspective to this American student Past Review

By (International Business & French, Nebraska Wesleyan University) for

ISEP Exchange: Greater Sudbury - Exchange Program at Laurentian University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was a spectacular semester. Stay a year if you can!! I learned about numerous other countries through all of the students that I met in Canada.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took four courses in French and 1 in English. I took two business courses, 2 political science courses, and 1 French grammar course. I did not have any exchange students in my classes except for the grammar class. Classes met 2x a week for 1 hour 20 min. each day. Courses were difficult, but similar style of teaching to Wesleyan. Lecture, often with powerpoint over the assigned readings for the day. Evaluation consisted of midterms and finals with a 10+ page research paper and some shorter papers as well. Only had textbooks for 2 of my classes. Mostly read articles sent by the teacher or excerpts from textbooks they had scanned. Homework load seemed less than at Wesleyan.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Orientation week was a waste. There was only an activity for an hour or two per day for the 10 days we had to be there before class started. Our bus passes were not activated until the first day of classes, so we could only go grocery shopping on the fourth day we were there, when we had a shuttle provided for us. Luckily, I had brought a few days of food with me! My coordinator changed 3 times during the time period from which I was accepted by the school in early summer to the time I left. Communication was horrible between coordinators and exchange students. You had to solve all of your problems on your own. It was very much a lesson in independence. There were very very few activities organized throughout the semester for the exchange students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The university arranged housing for me in the nicest building they had on campus. I had my own bedroom and shared a bathroom with one other girl. There were four of us in the dorm with a small living area and full kitchen. My French did not improve as a result of my living arrangements because I spoke English with my roommates, two of which were Anglophone, and one of which who was an international student that did not speak French. Luckily my roommates brought all of the kitchen ware, because I had only brought measuring cups. I brought a fitted sheet and borrowed an extra pillow from a roommate and bought a blanket there. I absolutely loved my roommates, and they became friends for life.

* Food:

There were some great restaurants in my town, although they were a little pricey. They gave me a food stipend for the semester which was plenty, and I cooked all of my own food, which I was really happy with. Two great restaurants in town are: Laughing Buddha and Respect is Burning.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Very few events were arranged by my program, except I did go on a trip to Niagara Falls, which was amazing. I went home with a roommate over Canadian Thanksgiving break, and then organized a trip to Toronto with two of my roommates at the end of my semester. Most of the exchange students became friends with a group of international students spending 4 years in Canada, some students who had moved to Canada from other countries, and some locals. I mostly spent my free time with that group, and we explored the town and went out together.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The town was medium size (approx. 160,000) and so it felt very safe to me. The university dorm was locked after 5:00, which I liked, so that only students living there could get in, and there was a porter at the door during that time. Although the campus was more spread out than my home university, I felt comfortable walking across the campus late at night to my dorm from the library or the pub.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent $35 a week on food, which was difficult, but I tried to make cheap meals. I spent $25 a week on going out on the weekends and going out to eat, which was also hard. I only went shopping twice when I was in Canada, and went on three trips, which in total cost my about $600.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You will want to go on trips even though you have not worked those into weekly and monthly budgets. Plan $500-$1000.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? The highest that is offered at my university.
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

It was extremely difficult one the first day of my French classes. I was literally just trying to pick out words that I could understand. It got much easier as the semester went on, and in all of my French classes, discussion and vocal participation were part of the grade, so I was forced to speak in class often, which was good. I also spoke with some of my peers before and after class, which helped with informal conversation skills. I wrote a lot of papers and emails to professors, so my written French also improved a lot.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Roommates/ the people I met
* What could be improved?
  • Coordinator/ exchange students communication
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Do not shy away from this program because of my harsh criticism! I had the most amazing semester of my life and met wonderful people that were very hard to leave. You definitely have to be independent, but the program was also undergoing personnel changes at that time, so that might have played a part in it as well.