Learn on location
Immersive education options offer students a unique experience
Throughout a student’s journey in academic pursuits they acquire many memories and moments that hopefully, in an ideal situation, help shape them into a more mature and socially aware person. While these moments of personal and intellectual growth can oftentimes be achieved in a classroom setting, it is hard to compare it to the hands-on experience of travelling and learning from new cultures.
Mount Royal University’s field schools stand apart as a unique way to obtain credits toward a degree, while getting the chance to experience the amazing opportunity to travel and learn in an untraditional way.
Trinda Guillet, logistical coordinator for the Field School Programs at Mount Royal, believes that students can acquire academic, career skills and personal values from international education.
“All types of international experiences (semester study abroad, work abroad, field schools, etc.) have different but equally important value and that every student who participates in one will come out of it changed in a positive way,” she said.
This year, Mount Royal will offer field school programs in Scotland, Honduras and Ghana. Last year, field schools were offered in countries and regions such as India, the Mediterranean, Jordan, Honduras and Germany.
Journalism professor and faculty member, Terry Field, helped to lead and organize the India 2012 and 2014 Field Schools. Field says he is passionate about international education because he has seen firsthand the benefits to students who participate.
“Every young person benefits from experiences that take them to a different place both physically and emotionally and exposes them to new ideas and challenges,” Field said.
He certainly is not alone in this belief. Testimonies from students that have taken part in field schools often mention the great personal growth they experienced by being challenged, both academically and personally.
These challenges differ for each individual person but typically involve aspects such as: culture shock, adaptation to an unfamiliar climate and of course food and health problems that crop up during international travel.
Melanie Angulo is a social work student who participated in the 2014 India Field School. She believes her international experience as invaluable.
“Personally I learned so much about who I am as an individual, and as a social worker, that I don’t think I could have learned in any other setting. This learning has helped me to make personal and professional goals that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of on my own.”
Field schools are a good option for students who want to travel but may not be able to commit to long-term exchanges. They also provide opportunities and experiences that students may not have been able to access on their own while providing a sense of safety.
“Field Schools are a great way for students to have an active learning experience, as well as an international experience, while having the security of being in a group and being led by an MRU instructor,” Guillet said.
Although field schools can be costly, there are options to make participation possible. Program budgets are built on a cost-recovery basis and payments can be made in instalments. If a student is unsure about whether or not they can afford to participate attending information sessions can help clarify any financial concerns.
The personal and educational values that field schools offer are endless. If you have been thinking about an opportunity to go abroad, definitely check out an information session for one of field schools scheduled for this year.