The Boarding Call

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Hello everyone, introductions are in order it seems. My name is Jessica and I am a new columnist at <em>Imprint</em>. I&rsquo;m so new that I still retain that new car smell.


I created this column with the hopes that it will encourage students to take time out of homework, jobs, and studying, to experience life and travel. Throughout my time here at <em>Imprint,</em> I hope to show you how you can take advantage of the opportunities that UW gives its students. I&rsquo;ll expose you to new cultures, locations, and later on in the year, I hope to take you with me on my exchange (tucked neatly away in my carry-on).


For the next few weeks, I&rsquo;m going to lead you through the process of going abroad for a semester starting this week with the most important step: how the heck to start.


Almost everyone enjoys vacations. For some of you, it is a beach filled with frying skin and too many margaritas, and for the less adventurous, it is a warm bed with a PS4 and a litre of Mountain Dew. I don&rsquo;t judge. My job is to help you do just that while maintaining your GPA.


First of all, you will want to look realistically at your school schedule to see if going abroad is even an option. If you have a predetermined co-op schedule, you will need to address how to accommodate that with a potentially longer semester abroad. Ask yourself if you could give up one of your co-op terms, if your courses are too specific to leave, and if you will be so homesick when abroad that the sight of maple syrup will send you into a downwards spiral; these are all important things to consider.


I am in co-op and had to remove one of my five co-op terms, of which I am only required to do four, to accommodate Carlos III Madrid&rsquo;s longer semester. If you cannot feasibly fit this in, then consider a work term abroad instead (which we will touch upon on a later date).


Next, you will want to know the deadlines and get the paperwork in on time. The good news is that there are two deadlines, Jan. 22 is the first one. If you are the type of person to throw everything together last minute and suffer small strokes from stress, then May 30th is the absolute final deadline.


The paperwork in question can be found at the university&rsquo;s outbound exchange page under &ldquo;How to Apply&rdquo; and is labeled as the &ldquo;Exchange Application Form.&rdquo; Pretty self-explanatory, right? That&rsquo;s what I thought too. Next week we&rsquo;ll get into the nitty gritty of why it&rsquo;s not so self-explanatory, why I experienced my own miniature strokes, and the reason they were totally worth it.


This is the part where I encourage people to contact me to share their experiences, so I will leave you with a question: where is the first place you remember travelling as a child?


Let me know at <em>jessica.needham@imprint.uwaterloo.ca.</em>
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