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Ashley's Study Abroad Experience - Making the Most of a COMS Minor

Submitted by krystle.monahan on Tue, 10/03/2017 - 10:17am

My name is Ashley P. and I’m a fourth year student at the University of Calgary, where I major in Political Science and minor in Communications. Throughout the course of my undergraduate degree, I’ve spent two semesters abroad, one in Sweden and one in Singapore.

I attended my first Study Abroad 101 session rather dubiously. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and I didn’t think an exchange would be a possibility for me. Although my GPA was decent, it wasn’t spectacular. Aside from the basic French that I learned in high school, English is my only language. My biggest concern, however, was regarding finances. I’d already had to take out student loans to study in my home province, so I was sure studying abroad would be out of the question. Fortunately, I soon discovered that most of the assumptions I had about exchanges were incorrect, and there were a variety of opportunities that were realistically available to me. I paid my tuition to the U of C the same as I normally would. I found groceries in both places to be slightly more expensive, but transportation costs to be significantly cheaper. By applying for a general study abroad grant that is available to all faculties, I was also able cover the cost of my flights to Sweden.

Living abroad is an amazing experience. It forced me out of my comfort zone and broadened my perspectives on, well, pretty much everything. What was really incredible was the courses that I was able to take abroad that I would not have had the chance to take in Calgary. In Sweden, I took a sociology class that focussed primarily on gendered communication--what it is, and how it affects the daily lives of people from Iceland to Ethiopia. In Singapore, I took a communications class that looked at global public relations issues with a focus on Asian case studies. We had world-class guest speakers from some of the largest PR firms in the world, and one of those guests even put me in contact with a Canadian colleague upon my return to Canada.

Living and travelling abroad also enhanced my communication skills in ways that I didn’t anticipate. When studying abroad you are constantly surrounded by people with a diverse range of ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds and identities. I genuinely believe that adapting and learning how to interact with such a myriad of individuals will be hugely beneficial in my future endeavours, both professionally and personally.