My Summer School experience: making plans for the future in Canada

Participating in an international summer school is a great way for students to gain international experience, learn new skills, increase their intercultural understanding, network, and have fun while visiting an ACU member institution overseas.

The ACU offers UK students the opportunity to gain this experience through our Global Summer School Grants. Here, Emma-Louise – an undergraduate student from Buckinghamshire New University – writes about her experience at the University of Alberta, Canada, last year.

This year I spent my 22nd birthday in the air flying to Canada, thanks to my ACU Global Summer School Grant. I decided to partake in the University of Alberta summer school in Canada because I made the decision to emigrate to Canada to work once I've completed my undergraduate degree.

Canada, stemming from ‘Kanata’, the Indigenous or First Nation people’s word for camp or settlement, is a country filled with a rich history especially considering that is actually quite young in the grand scheme of things. During this course I learnt a lot about Canada’s history, primarily the history of Alberta and the indigenous peoples; and aspects of Canadian politics, such as the current political climate in the provinces, the history of the representatives of the Queen, how Alberta became named as such and why it is mainly an English speaking province. On top of all that I took part in fun outings, such as an aerial ropes course and curling, exploring the stunning natural surroundings, including Banff National Park and Elk Island National Park, which were beautiful even though we never got to see the elusive bison.

Due to the cultural diversity of the students not only was I learning about Canadian culture and the similarities between British and Canadian customs, but I was also learning how both of these have similarities and differences to other cultures such as Chinese, Filipino, Singaporean, and Korean cultures. I believe this was one of the most important aspects of the trip as not only can this help with future career paths, but it also enriches you as a person allowing you to create a more culturally unbiased self.

Emma-Louise at the University of Alberta summer school, Canada

Personally, I was able to find out a lot about myself, and the lecturers on the course helped me understand how my skills and experiences growing up can be used in various aspects of life, and how many career paths could be open to me. One lecturer was even kind enough to help me understand how the film industry is growing and changing in Canada, and even put me in contact with someone in the particular job role I wish to work in, in order to help me pursue my dream of working in the film industry in Canada. This is massively specific to me, but a course like this can create opportunities when and where you least expect them, as long as you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there.

I plan to write an excerpt for my university newspaper highlighting some of the best experiences on my trip and going more in depth about what I learned. I also plan to talk to the careers department at my university to discuss how opportunities like this can be made more accessible to all students.

Having been on this trip I’ve found an increased understanding of what I want to do in the future and how to go about doing it – I have decided that I will now move to Calgary, Alberta, because it is cheaper to live, and I will have a better chance of getting a job in a developing market rather than a well-established place (e.g. Vancouver or Toronto) where competition is higher. I also discovered I have a love of climbing and aerial adventure courses, even though I’m scared of heights, and I’m aiming to start going to clubs that do this, and I’m definitely introducing my family to curling at some point because it was so much fun!

Overall this was one of the best trips I’ve been on, I learnt so much and I feel like it helped me grow a lot as an individual. I would definitely recommend a trip like this to anyone and everyone, and I’m so happy the ACU made it happen. If there is one lesson to take from this it would be: listen and learn as much as you can from every experience, there is always something useful to be taken from everything. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Emma-Louise is a BA Performing Arts: Film, TV, and Stage student at Buckinghamshire New University, UK.

Read more about how you can get involved in an international summer school with the help of our Global Summer School Grants, which will be opening for applications in January 2019.

Last modified on 14/01/2019