Choosing an International Program

An international program is an amazing way to learn about the world, challenge your perspective and gain invaluable life experience. The only question is, how can you decide which program works for you?

This guide has been built to help you select the program that is best for you.

Discover the truth behind common misconceptions about international learning on our International Learning Myths page.

Step 1 Identify your goals

What are your professional or educational ambitions? Do you want to learn a new language, experience a unique and interesting culture or do you want to gain international experience from the comfort of your own home?

More examples of goals:

  • travel abroad to a new country.
  • Develop independence and confidence.
  • Improve my intercultural communication skills.
  • interact with people who have a different background and culture from myself.

Step 2 Prioritize what is important

Now that you have identified your goals, rank them in order of importance. What goals must you accomplish and what goals are secondary considerations?

Some examples:

I want to find an international learning experience that works with my medical science/engineering/BMOS degree

Search for a summer program so that there are no conflicts with your school schedule.

Faculty-led international courses are also a good opportunity.

I want to learn a new language

Searching for a non-English speaking country is a great way to quickly learn a new language.

Another option is taking a language course abroad.

I want to immerse myself in a new culture

Western offers many opportunities for exchange and studying abroad in countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and more.

Step 3 Understand your specific needs, including accommodations

You have identified what you want but it is important to understand what you need as well. Think about challenges you might face and any accommodations you will need.

Some examples:

  • I have academic accommodations for testing support at Western and want to make sure I can receive the same support from my host institution
  • I have limited financial means, so I want to participate in an exchange to ensure my tuition payments don’t change.
  • I’m part of the 2SLGBTQI+ community (or another minority group), so I want to travel to a country that is welcoming of my identity.

If you wish to discuss any academic accommodations or accessibility issues, please contact the International Learning team or Accessible Education.

Step 4 Talk to the important people in your life

You may want to talk with your:

  • Family
  • Partner
  • Close friends or significant others
  • Roommates or housemates
  • We also recommend you talk to:
  • An International Learning Coordinator
  • An International Learning Ambassador (trained student leaders who have participated in a Western international learning experience)
  • Your academic counselor

Now that you’re ready to find the perfect program for you, the only thing left to do is explore the wide range of international experiences that Western has to offer!

Eligibility, application fees and deadlines vary by program. Most deadlines range from December 1 to January 15 for summer experiences or the following academic year. Be sure to research your program options early and plan in advance!

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