NAIT students have access to many opportunities to volunteer, join a club, attend events and meet new people, but they also have an opportunity not many students know about: the opportunity to study abroad. For students interested in furthering their education they can take classes in Denmark, learn culinary arts in Portugal or help install solar panels in Peru.
Mila Sokolyanskaya, a Global Education coordinator at NAIT, described the experience as “intercultural learning happening outside of their comfort zone.” According to Sokolyanskaya, global learning helps students be more employable. “Three per cent of students in Canada in post-secondary, they have this global learning experience, so this is a pretty unique experience.”
Doug McFarlane, an Instructor at NAIT who helps run the Alternative Energy program, agreed. In this program, McFarlane takes students to places like Guatemala and Peru to install solar panels. In his experience, he’s noticed that employers are increasingly looking for people with skills working with other cultures. “Intercultural competencies are quite important, and they’re becoming increasingly more important. Employers are increasingly more interested in hiring people with those kinds of skills,” he explained.
There are studying abroad opportunities for any full-time students at NAIT, along with some that are program specific. Regardless of the students’ experience, Sokolyanskaya assured that students will be taken care of.
“At NAIT, we take safety of our students really seriously,” she said. Sokolyanskaya plans on creating a course to help students who wish to travel abroad so they are prepared for intercultural learning.
“What’s most critical is to prepare them for this cultural experience … we give them some strategies to deal with culture shock. Because even though some students are super excited about experiencing different culture and engaging with people from different cultural backgrounds, it can be pretty stressful,” Sokolyanskaya explained. “So we do our part in preparing them for this experience.”
Earning course credits while gaining world experience is exciting, but for those students that need a bit more of a push, NAIT students who previously studied abroad spoke highly of their experience. Avery Kraus went to Denmark to study and said it was an amazing experience. Kraus encouraged students to consider this opportunity: “You wanna go out and experience different cultures and different … experiences out of your comfort zone and potentially out, away from what you’re used to.”
Rosalba Colangelo, a Culinary Arts student who went to Portugal, expressed how beneficial the experience was. She advised students to “leverage the opportunity and seek opportunities to see more and to do more and to talk to more people.”
When looking into the opportunities that NAIT has, all students should consider studying abroad. Whether it’s a trip to Peru after a winter course, culinary arts in Portugal or business courses in Denmark, the opportunities are available to NAIT students. For those thinking they might like to go abroad next summer, find more information by emailing email@example.com. Students can also visit NAIT’s International and Intercultural Community Centre in W101 to chat with a Global Education Coordinator about how to further your education and experience by flying away in the summer on a global learning journey.