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Have you ever wanted to live in a foreign country? Are you curious about what other universities are like around the world? Well, the answers to these questions can be found through a study abroad semester! As an SFU student you are able to participate in an international exchange to one of SFU’s 130+ partner institutions, which are anywhere from places like Germany and Ghana. Although we are not able to travel right now, there is no restriction on planning a future semester spent abroad. Plus, trust me, planning my study abroad has helped me handle the quarantine blues.


Let’s talk about the requirements! The study abroad program is open to all undergraduate students. The GPA requirements differ from each institution, but generally students need a 2.67 GPA to be considered. Before you apply, you must have completed 36 units with 12 of those units stemming from SFU. A quick tip! Be careful with the credits, classes like FAN and FAL do not count towards the mandatory 36 units for the application. Finally, you need to have either declared a major or have an intended major. For additional information, please consult this website.


As realtors say location, location, location, the hardest part about the application process is choosing the destination. Personally, I originally picked Denmark, but then I changed my mind to Argentina and then again to South Korea. Finally, I decided to apply to Charles University in the Czech Republic. As you can tell, there are so many options and I could write a whole paper on how to pick a destination. We do not have time for that, so here are my quick tips on how to pick the right destination:


  • Course Offerings – Although a study abroad semester is generally meant to be a fun time (don’t tell anyone I said that), you still must consider what type of classes are available at the destination’s institution. Study abroad programs are a great way to learn from a different perspective, so you just have to take full advantage of that! Make sure your destination has plenty of course offerings that interest you and are applicable to your program at SFU.
  • Travel Opportunities – For me, having a central location that is easy to travel anywhere to was my most important factor. I want to be able to travel freely anywhere at any given time, so a country like Australia wouldn’t necessarily be the best fit for me. Additionally, this can apply to where the university is located within the country. Attending a school in a small town might not be the vibe you want, or maybe it is! Therefore, location is a major factor you should really think about.
  • Cost – Living abroad can be expensive. A semester abroad is definitely something you have to save up for. I suggest looking at past exchange reports from students to gather a better idea of the costs. Keep in mind that, obviously, a semester in Amsterdam will cost significantly more than a semester in the Czech Republic.


Since money is a very important factor, I want to expand more on my cost factor from above. How expensive a semester abroad can really depend. Firstly, the tuition cost is usually based on SFU’s pricing. Therefore, a study abroad would cost the same amount for 12 units. There are special exceptions for certain universities like UC Berkeley where you would pay international tuition instead. Secondly, accommodation can be pricey, especially if dorms are unavailable. Another added factor onto accommodation pricing is exchange rates. Canadian money can go further in Thailand than in most European countries. With all of these concerns, there are still underlying benefits. There are so many scholarships available for students to study abroad. I know writing long essays is not always fun, but if you put in the work, I am sure you’ll be able to obtain some scholarships!


Finally, here are a few last gems of the study abroad experience. Firstly, grades obtained abroad do not count towards your GPA and they do not show up on your transcript. Don’t worry! You still get credit for the class, but instead of a grade you receive a P mark. What a bonus to not worry about grades! Secondly, a semester abroad is a great way to challenge yourself. Don’t get me wrong, moving to a country where you don’t know anyone or speak the language is terrifying. Yet, it is kind of fun if you think about it. There is so much opportunity for you to experience new things too!


If you have anymore questions, please contact the Study Abroad Office at [email protected]. Have fun travelling!

Kiara is an International Studies major concentrating in International Security and Conflict with a minor in Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University.
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