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Words of wisdom from a Canadian study abroad veteran

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Kaitlyn Corlett is a third year Visual Arts Major from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. In 2014 she took a leap of faith and completed her first international field school run by Langara College in Italy. The program changed her more than she could imagine, giving her confidence, independence, and a new outlook on life and art. As a now seasoned traveller she offered to share some of her tips with students looking to take the plunge into study abroad.

Getting started

For those unsure of whether field school is right for them, Kaitlyn suggests using the resources at your disposal to learn more about the programs available. “Whether it’s talking to friends who have travelled before, or the global engagement office at your school, those are really great resources when someone’s unsure how to take the next step forward.”

Choosing a destination

Kaitlyn chose Italy as her study destination, but there is an infinite number of possibilities open to you. When you find the right program, you’ll know because it speaks to your interests and piques your curiosity. For Kaitlyn it was a no-brainer:

“Italy has been the epicentre of what I’ve learned and been fascinated with for most of my life. From art, food, movies, history, and beyond, I’ve wanted to go from a very young age. The program abroad at Langara College suited my interest in art history, developed a curiosity about architecture, and also opened my eyes to future experiences abroad and back home.”

Financing your trip

Kaitlyn was the recipient of the 2014 BC Study Abroad Scholarship, but applying through bcstudyabroad.ca wasn’t all she did to ensure her budget was sound. “The main piece of advice that I have would be to really use the resources at your school. From your scholarship office, career services (if you are in need of a part time job to save money), or global engagement/ study abroad office, everyone there has information to help you along. Taking the time to really research funding opportunities is also a wonderful first step to take. I began through my school and then looked at scholarships offered in the province of BC.”

Getting ready to depart

Guide books, orientation sessions, internet searches, and more: There`s a wealth of information waiting for you if you know where to look. Kaitlyn`s favourite resources were packing lists offered through ricksteves.com, and her field school. She warns against leaving things to the last minute, emphasizing, “Especially when it came to passport photos, photocopying important information, clothing, and finances.”

Making sure you’re organized well before your departure date can help calm some of the anxiety leading up to departure. The more you can be assured you have everything you need, the more confident you will be when you board the plane.

What is Kaitlyn’s number one piece of advice for future travellers?

“Fill out the paperwork and take the leap of faith! Start packing way ahead of time, even if it’s bit by bit. It helps you really think about what you need and what you don’t need.”

Contributed by:

Chantal Moore, Manager, Communications
BC Council for International Education

To read more about Kaitlyn’s adventures in Italy and to read posts from other students who have participated in field schools around the world, visit bcstudyabroad.ca.

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