The (brief) Back to School guide for studying abroad
As students head back to school, Web Editor Brett Luft is prepping for a semester overseas
Welcome back, kids! Thousands of you are hitting the halls of Mount Royal this week as part of your post-secondary journey. Some students might be embarking on the first stage of their journey through university, while others might be prepping for the last leg of their trip.
But for students like me, things will be a bit different as we set out on a different adventure. My first day of class is Oct. 1 in Hirosaki, Japan – thanks to the Mount Royal University study abroad program.
While I’m still a Mount Royal student – as my fees get paid to Mount Royal – I won’t actually step back into a Canadian classroom until sometime in the spring. Because of this, my preparation is a bit different than students heading back to Lincoln Park.
Here are some of the things I need to be aware of, and you might want to know in case you decide to pursue your dreams abroad.
When I first started looking into studying overseas, tuition was what I expected to be the most damaging. While Canada seems tough at times, it’s not nearly as crazy as our friends south of the border and elsewhere in the world.
When I started looking at schools, I always saw the crazy “International Student” pricing, which is grossly inflated at the hands of unsubsidized education. Studying abroad at Mount Royal is actually pretty easy. You only pay for the credits, and you pay at the Mount Royal rate.
I’m looking at bringing 12 credits back with me, so I ended up paying for – you guessed it – 12 credits. While accommodations are a different story, not having to worry about tuition is an enormous weight off my shoulders.
Plane tickets, ugh, and the like
Each year I complain about the U-Pass. I live in Okotoks, so it seems kind of ridiculous to pay for a transit pass that I probably won’t use. This year, I’d much rather be paying for the U-Pass, because flying overseas is crazy.
But while the tickets are expensive – round trip I’m looking at $1,500 – the accommodations are easier to digest. At the school I’m staying at, my rent and utilities are expected to be between $150 and $200 every month.
While I can’t imagine everybody will have that kind of luck, it does help digest the rest of the expenses and give me the opportunity (see: money) to explore Japan.
Nervousness, nervousness and nervousness
The biggest thing I have to do to prepare myself is regarding my nervousness. I’m typically a pretty cool guy, but the thought of being alone in a country halfway across the world is kind of frightening. Even before accounting for the language barrier that I’m bound to face, it’s pretty weird to think about.
The easiest thing I’ve done to help combat this is creating a checklist of things I need to accomplish before I head out. Some of these things are simple, like be sure to pack a winter coat, but it’s often the simple things that catch us off guard.
As for the language barrier? I made sure to include “download Google Translate” as part of my to-do list. Modern technology is designed to bring people together, and I’m expecting that my phone will be able to do that for me.