Even within her first five days in Canada, Mariana Cortés, a NC exchange student from San José, Costa Rica, was proud of how much she had already grown.
Cortés is one of more than 30 international exchange students Niagara College is welcoming this Fall Term through the Be World Ready program and NC’s academic global partnerships.
Cortés, along with classmate David Pereira, were two and half years through their studies at Univeridad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnologia when they decided to embark on a four-month adventure in Canada.
“When I was 15, I lived in Canada for a year while my mom studied cooking in Ottawa and I loved the experience,” said Cortés. “When I first came to Canada, I felt like people understood me and I learned a lot about myself. I was known to be shy in Costa Rica, but in Canada I became an extrovert. It was one of my best experiences of my life and helped me become who I am today.”
“Over the next four months, I believe learning from other cultures will expand my knowledge and understanding of people. I am looking forward to exchanging ideas and working together with people from different backgrounds.”
Pereira shared that he chose to study at NC because he believes he will be able to learn more than just Canadian culture as Canada has a strong reputation for its multiculturalism.
“I think I can learn a lot from the applied teaching methods at Niagara College,” said Pereira. “I am really interested in improving my college and the Costa Rican education system.”
Pereira noted that his college in Costa Rica is receptive to student advice and that he plans to share his photos of NC and his understanding of NC’s teaching methods. “My educational experience at Niagara College is not just going to improve my knowledge, but is something my whole college can learn from,” he said. “Even if I am going to graduate in two or three years, I want to see my college in Costa Rica grow so that the people that graduate after me can have a better education.”
Carolin Seiferth from Stralsund, Germany, is so optimistic about the impact of her exchange program that she extended the duration.
“I thought the regular time length of an exchange program would be too short for me to adapt to my new environment and gain an understanding of Canadian culture,” she said. “Today’s workforce is increasingly international so I believe it is important to strength my cultural knowledge by working with people from different backgrounds.”
In addition to developing her knowledge in the tourism field, Seiferth hopes her exchange experience will help her further develop personally, gain more independence and increase her open mindedness to new cultures as Canada is so multicultural. She noted that an important part of living abroad is embracing new experiences and grinned as she shared her homestay family was bringing her to an ice hockey game this winter.
Elisa Meyer, from Nienburg, Germany, expressed that living away from home on exchange helps students to find themselves as they are exposed to a plethora of new experiences. Meyer referenced how she is an individual who enjoys planning and scheduling her times, reflecting how much this experience so far has
forced her outside her comfort zone to adapt when life does not go as planned.
Meyer’s career goal is to work for an Embassy in Europe and believes her semester abroad from is on exchange from Hochschule Bremen will help make her more work-ready by allowing her to develop her cultural competency through interacting with different cultures.
The German exchange student also noted how she enjoys the positive outlook of Canadians. “When you ask a Canadian how they are, they always respond with such positivity,” she explained. “Canadians always reply with ‘awesome’ or ‘amazing,’ while in Germany people typically reply with a more neutral response.” Meyer said she loves this Canadian view and hopes by the end of her exchange, she too will adopt a more expressive Canadian response.
“During my exchange, I would like to improve my English and understand academic subjects from a different culture’s point of view,” said Beatrice Cane from Casale Monferrato, Italy, who is currently on exchange from Università Cattolica in Piacenza Italy. “I also hope to make new friends and learn how to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds. I believe studying abroad is a culturally rich experience and will help me to become more open-minded.”
Studying Food Marketing in Italy, Cane hopes to become a marketing manager in the food industry and was excited to get the opportunity to learn more about NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “Many food companies in Italy export and import internationally, so I believe gaining a global education will benefit my career.”
Semester abroad experiences help students become more world-ready and work-ready graduates through the development of cultural competencies and a global mindset. Welcoming exchange students from around the world through established global relationships with academic partners also creates more opportunities for two-way student mobility and paves the way for more of NC’s Canadian students to study abroad.
To find out more about semester exchange opportunities through the Be World Ready program, visit: www.beworldready.ca/opportunities-abroad/semester-exchanges/