“Nice, relaxing, awesome, great…”, these are just some of the words used by Derek Ward-Hall to express his experience in participating in a study abroad program over 8,000 kilometers away. Let me paint a quick picture for you. Derek is a business student at UFV, and he had a strong desire to travel. He heard from a friend of his that UFV offers a Study Abroad program where students can go to a distant land and attend university for a semester. Credits transfer to UFV, so out this experience you get to travel somewhere new, meet people from all over the world, and your education does not have to get put on hold.
Derek went to the UFV international department, followed the outlined procedures given to him and within a short time was on a plane to Nice, France. This is the fifth most populated city in France and it is located in the Southeastern region of the country. This coastal city is situated against the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. His semester of study took place at the IPAG Business School in Nice.
Upon arriving at his destination he met up with some friends that he connected with through a social media site that was set up for Study Abroad students worldwide. This connection helped Derek connect with other exchange students to find accommodation and social events.
While attending classes is a significant part of the Study Abroad journey, Derek also traveled throughout Europe during any and all breaks that he had. Between January – June of 2014, he traveled to eight European nations. His impressive itinerary included:
Each country contributed to the overall experience, and at the same time each one presented unique characteristics that led Derek to wanting more.
Other than having one of the best appetizer he had ever consumed, (White Truffle Ravioli in a cream sauce), Derek attended a free viewing of a movie for the Cannes film festival. There he actually got to meet Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and Uma Thurman.
I asked Derek if there were any problems acclimating to living abroad; such as language barriers, food, or music. Even though he attended French emersion school in Abbotsford and as a result is pretty fluent in French, there was not a need for it. Everywhere that he travelled, English was spoken and people treated him and his somewhat linguistically impaired friends well, in spite not speaking their language. Food was very similar to Canada, although he did mention that McDonalds left a healthier aftertaste than that of this relentless fast food chain back home. One of the biggest surprises Derek noticed about living abroad was the local taste for music. He said that is was almost identical to our western world, even mentioning Katy Perry as an well-known artist over there.
Derek anticipates graduating in 2016 with a Business degree and a minor in communications. Afterwards, he is planning on attending graduate school with a concentration on Training Development and Leadership. He wants to attend university abroad again, as his initial experience has left a strong desire to continue to explore the world.
My overall interpretation of Derek’s experience was that it was fantastic and he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Recommending the Study Abroad program to any and all that are even slightly curious about joining was absolutely something Derek felt strongly about. His closing comment to me was not meant to be cliché, but he said, “you learn a lot more about yourself when travelling”. These words resonate with me as I travelled a lot when I was younger. It is truly an experience that is hard to describe in words, so I recommend to all students not to waste any opportunities to travel while still young enough to embrace the experiences that are learned from it. Learn more about the UFV Study Abroad partners here.
This post was written by UFV student, Scott Lukasek as part of a communication practicum. It details the experience of returning UFV student Derek Ward-Hall in the Study Abroad program.