Capilano students study abroad
// Michelle Plaschinski

For students who wish to add a little extra spice and flavour to their educational meal, Capilano University’s Study Abroad programs may have just what they are looking for. There are two different options for students bitten by the travel bug – an exchange program in which students spend a semester at another institution abroad, or a study tour, in which a Capilano professor leads a multi-destination educational tour over a few weeks.

The exchange program is a partnership between Capilano University and its 12 sister institutions in Australia, Austria, Finland, Denmark, France, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The majority of exchanges offered cater to business, international business, and tourism students, a restriction the university hopes to change in order to make these opportunities available to students in other areas of study.

A student on exchange spends one semester of study at one of the overseas sister institutions, registered in at least 12 credits that count towards their graduation back home. The schools that Capilano is partnered with have proficient English-speaking professors, ensuring that language barriers in studying are not a problem. Students pay Capilano University’s tuition fees; however, each institution determines the housing options available. Some institutions provide on-campus housing, while others do not. A prerequisite of applying to the study abroad program is having good academic standing, and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Tourism student James Ferguson, who was recently invited to speak to students about his experience, did his semester abroad at the University of Hawai’i in his third year. “Learning in their Travel Industry Management School was an unbelievable learning tool because Hawaii is a global tourist hub,” he says.
He emphasizes feeling comfortable very quickly in Manoa (the community in which he lived), and the fact that “he was lucky and encountered no major stumbling blocks” involving culture shock or language barriers. The most pressing issue was the need to acquire the correct medical insurance in the United States, though being registered at University of Hawaii as a Capilano University student helped overcome that.

He also notes a difference in the less demanding nature of his courses, which allowed him to have more time for recreation and to form the tight friendships he made with other international students: “My classes ended by 1:00 every day so I had time to go to the beach, surf, hike, explore, and skydive twice.” Living on a student budget, he used online sites such as to get affordable deals for lots of new adventures.

An alternative to the semester-long exchange is a study tour, which last for three to five weeks and are open to all students. A Capilano professor within the faculty leads the tour, during which students take three to six transferrable credits. Study tours mesh lectures and lessons with sightseeing, history and adventure. This spring, study tours are being led to Guatemala, Vietnam, and China.

Myles Galvin is a student that has participated in both of the study abroad programs. On the study tour, he says, “[I was] driven to apply for the China study tour because I wasn’t prepared for a semester abroad in my first year but I had a bad case of the travel bug.”

Due to language barriers, the group often found themselves playing charades to communicate with Mandarin-speaking locals. Galvin too three credits towards his International Business and Marketing degree in “integrated” lectures where Chinese students sat in on their professor’s lectures, or the Canadians would sit in on lectures taught in Mandarin.

Both Ferguson and Galvin rave about their experiences in the study abroad program. Galvin describes it as “a life changing experience that changed [my] perspective on the world, and left me wanting to travel more.” Ferguson adds that studying abroad is “the best thing you can do in your university career … to live in paradise for five months at an American university and pay Cap U tutition, why would you not?”
Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters.

//Michelle Plaschinski, writer

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