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Finding intercultural opportunities on campus

UVic students on campus. Photo: UVic Photo Services.

Having international experiences can broaden viewpoints, build skills and develop global perspectives. Often students feel that travelling abroad is the only way to achieve this.  However, there are many ways to find and have these experiences while on the UVic campus.

Simple life circumstances can get in the way of successful exchanges, co-op terms abroad, field schools or other international opportunities. Many students want international opportunities, but they might be site-bound and can’t leave Victoria, or can’t take time away from their programs. Sometimes the curriculum won’t line up with classes available at partner institutions, or the costs may be prohibitive.

One student's viewpoint

UVic undergraduate Victoria Shin (political science) knows these concerns well. When she looked around campus for an intercultural experience, she discovered the Conversation Partner Program and became a conversation partner herself.

I love planning fun things to do in Victoria with my conversation partners. It lets me take a break from all that school work, and also it lets me experience activities that I didn't even know were going on or have experienced before. I love meeting my conversation partners every semester because I get to meet some great people and learn about their home cultures.
—Victoria Shin, undergrad in political science at UVic

International Education Week at UVic

International Education Week is marked in the third week of November in hundreds of countries around the world—including by UVic and other universities across Canada—in an annual, week-long celebration of student mobility and international education. 

Tips for students

With IEW 2017 fast approaching, here’s how our students can focus on finding and making intercultural opportunities on the UVic campus:

  • Take a language course or an internationally focused credit-based course (i.e. in political science, history, Pacific and Asian studies, or a myriad other departments).
  • Sign up for the Diploma Program in Intercultural Education, available through UVic’s Division of Continuing Studies, to augment your intercultural abilities.
  • Visit the Global Engagement 2017 Picture the World exhibition in the foyer of the University Centre from Nov. 13 to 17.  You’ll be amazed at all the places our students have gone – and some of the winning pictures were submitted by international students who’ve studied at UVic.
  • Attend an exchange information session during IEW 2017 for more info about bursaries and awards, and help make the financial part of the puzzle work for you.
  • Apply for the Student International Activities Fund, the One World or the Premier’s Scholarship (next deadline, Nov. 15) to help you get where you want to go.
  • Surf through the Online Career Fair to connect with employers who are actively recruiting international students and graduates.
  • Sign up for the Holiday Dinner Program and host international students for a holiday meal.
  • Become a conversation partner and help international students improve their English.
  • Apply for the mentorship program and enjoy intercultural experiences while helping international students navigate their way at UVic.
  • Try the simplest, but probably most impactful, challenge of all: talk to an international student in your class.  Put yourself out there; invite them for coffee.

So students don’t have to leave the UVic campus to hone their intercultural skills and find opportunities to connect with the thousands of students, faculty and even staff members who have chosen to attend, and work at, UVic from around the world.

Shin adds, “It makes me feel as if I really am a part of the ‘global society’ that I learn about, analyze and discuss in my political science program at UVic.”

The tips and this feature story were produced by Lindsay Neilson of Student Recruitment and Global Engagement and Tricia Best of International Student Services

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