International programs offer valuable alternative to summer break

Joshua Francis turned his dream of exploring a foreign country into a reality last summer by participating in the UMAP (University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific) Summer Discovery Camp from Aug. 4 to 17, 2019.

The program was organized by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan and held at Fu Jen Catholic University in the capital city of Taipei.

“I wanted to visit different parts of Asia and learn more about the culture,” said Francis, a fifth-year Accounting Co-op student.

The summer alternative is an increasingly popular option for Brock University students looking to broaden their horizons, earn academic credits and gain a competitive edge in the workforce after they graduate.

The Summer Discovery Camp is a two-week program designed for students to learn more about the society and culture of Taiwan, consisting of both lectures and field trips.

Francis was no stranger to studying abroad, having previously travelled to China with the Goodman School of Business for their Chinese Culture course.

“I saw firsthand how different Asia was compared to North America and how rich their culture was,” said Francis.

The program consisted of 40 students, with 10 students being local Taiwanese students who assisted the group through their experience. The remaining 30 students were from countries around the world, including Canada, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“We were able to share different aspects of each other’s cultures,” said Francis. “I believe that is the greatest takeaway from this program. Now I know that if I ever go back to Asia, I will have somebody I know in many East Asian countries.”

By the time Francis had to leave, he had formed a family-like bond with his new classmates and found it hard to say goodbye.

“The world has so much to offer and travelling to countries on the other side of the world can really change your perspective and broaden your horizons,” said Francis.

He also felt that the program boosted his confidence, helping him adapt to a new environment.

The University’s International Mobility Office offers an array of opportunities for students interested in spending their break studying abroad.

Short-term opportunities are listed online in more than 20 countries, with host institutions in Australia, England, South Korea and various countries across Europe.

Studying abroad also encourages intercultural and international understanding, fosters leadership and personal development, and provides students with a meaningful opportunity to interact with staff and faculty outside the formal classroom.

Francis encourages students considering an opportunity abroad to look beyond the mental barrier of travelling in a foreign country. A dedicated team at Brock’s International Mobility Office provides support with pre-departure sessions and tips to maximize the experience while overseas.

Shortly after his return to Canada, Francis felt the urge to participate in another global experience. He registered for a Winter Exchange Program from Dec. 27, 2019 to Jan. 18, 2020 at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

“I love studying abroad because you can get a real taste of another culture and learn what it is like to live in a foreign country,” he said.

To encourage more participation, Brock students are eligible for one of two scholarships through varying UMAP opportunities, valued at $500 each.

To apply, students must submit their application online through Brock’s International Mobility Office for consideration. Students should note the varying application deadlines for each opportunity, many of which have a closing of March 1.

For any questions or assistance with the application, please contact the International Mobility Office at or visit them in the International Centre, Glenridge B.

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