Ponder before you wander
With so many programs and countries to choose from, how do you decide where you want to go? The two most important questions to ask are: What are your main reasons for wanting to go abroad? and What are your goals? Take some time to think about these questions, talk to your friends and family, and get advice from past participants.
Things to consider
When considering your academic program, develop a plan in consultation with your U of T faculty, college, program or department. Keep in mind that some degree of academic risk is part of all international opportunities, and make a thoughtful choice to get the most out of your experience.
- Do you need the grades you receive while abroad to show on your U of T transcript (vs. the credits alone)? If the actual grades are important for you, then you might want to consider a Joint Minor or Research.
- Do you need professional experience? If so, you might consider Research or an Internship.
- What degree requirements do you have left?
- What subject POSt requirements do you still need to complete?
- Research an institution's course offering to see if they are compatible with your Subject POSt.
- Are you interested in a particular subject that would be best studied abroad?
Check our Faculty Considerations page for important information about going abroad and your particular faculty.
To narrow down your choices, put some thought into what kind of institution you want to spend your time abroad at.
- Does the institution you are considering have a course selection that interests you?
- Could any of your current professors recommend institutions where interesting work is being done?
- Sometimes the institution you are interested in will determine how long you are away – not all programs are offered at all times of the year.
How much time should you spend abroad? A summer, a semester or a full year?
CIE usually recommends going abroad for a full year if possible. It takes time to adjust to a new environment, and if you go abroad for only one semester, you may find that you are returning home just when things are getting interesting. That said, if you can only go for a shorter time it will certainly still be worth it.
- Can you take a semester or year off from your degree?
- Consider how much time you can realistically spend abroad. This will depend partly on your finances, partly on your academic program and partly on your personality and family situation.
- The program you are interested in may determine how long you are away. Some programs or institutions are only available for a full academic year and others for just a summer. Others have semester dates that don't match up smoothly with U of T, meaning that a Fall Semester exchange with the Winter back at U of T or a Winter Semester abroad with the Summer in Canada might not be possible. Consult the CIE International Opportunities search tool regarding your first choice institution or program to determine if your timeline will work.
- Is travel important to you? Are there any destinations near your preferred institution that you’d like to visit?
Money is always a factor in deciding where you can go. Travel costs and living expenses vary greatly from place to place, so knowing what you can afford and forecasting your expenses will help you choose a destination that works for you. It’s worth checking the international office web pages at the institutions you are interested in — local cost of living information might be provided.
- What costs can you afford? Do you need to earn an income or support yourself through study scholarships?
- What is your budget and which city's cost of living is compatible with it?
There are many scholarships and bursaries available. See the Funding page for more information.
Is advancing your career an important reason for you to go abroad?
- Are you looking to network for your future career or graduate school?
- Are you trying to decide what you want to do after university?
Many of CIE's partner institutions teach in English, but not all of them. If you have knowledge of another language, this will open up more options for you. Consult the CIE International Opportunities search tool regarding your first choice institution or program to determine what language requirements you must meet.
Does the institution you are interested in offer course in English? If not, do you have the proficiency to take courses at the location?
When considering your personality, family and social situation, think about the following:
- Is developing your independence a central goal for you?
- How long can you be away from family/friends?
- Do you have responsibilities at home that may be difficult to leave?
You may not be able to answer these questions accurately before you've been away for an extended period of time, but it is good to try to think about how being away will be for you.
How do I get more information?
Consult the CIE International Opportunities search tool or connect with the CIE for other options.
Sign up for the CIE Weekly News and Events email to find out about upcoming information sessions.
CIE’s Global Lounge has a resource library with information from most of our partners (i.e., course catalogues, promotional material, accommodation flyers, etc.).
Connect with an experienced U of T student who has participated in the program you are interested in, or with a student from the partner institution you are thinking about. Contact our program office for details, or check out our academic discipline-focused workshops.
Get advice from past participants
Sometimes the best way to decide which program or destination is best for you is by talking to a student who has already done it. CIE is happy to connect you with past participants in a number of different ways. Past participants may hold office hours, give workshops and/or may be contacted by email.
Get advice by email
If you can't meet in person with someone who has been to the destination you are interested in, you may still have the chance to communicate by email with past or current participants. Please visit or email the Student Exchange Program office to inquire.
Learning Abroad Fairs 2017
October 3, 2017: St. George Fair, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Hart House, Great Hall)
October 4, 2017: UTM Fair, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Davis Building, Meeting Space)
October 5, 2017: UTSC Fair, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Meeting Place)
Learning Abroad Workshops
These workshops are informal gatherings where past exchange participants and interested students can get together to talk about going abroad.
Find out the answers to questions like: What is the workload like? Are the professors approachable? Where's a good place to eat, have a good coffee, or go out? Where are the best places to visit? What haven’t I thought about yet that I should know?
This is a chance for you to meet like-minded students and talk about your experiences.
All sessions will take place from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. in the Cumberland Room at CIE, except where different times are noted. Register now with the links below.
- Exchange Talk – BIO, HMB, CSB, PCL, and Science Summer Research, Oct 17 2017
- Exchange Talk – CRM, SOC, PSY, Oct 18
- Exchange Talk – EAS, Oct 19
- Exchange Talk – Engineering, and Engineering Summer Research, Oct 23
- Exchange Talk – ENG, LIN, FRE, SPA, Oct 24
- Exchange Talk – GGR, ENV, Oct 25
- Exchange Talk– HIS, ANT, CLA, Oct 26
- Exchange Talk – RSM, ECO, Oct 30
- Exchange Talk – STA, MAT, CS, Oct 31
- Exchange Talk – POL, IR, PHL, NMC, PCJ, Nov 1
If you are concerned about accessibility, we can help you find an exchange opportunity that suits your needs. If you have registered with U of T's Accessibility Services, we will try to provide similar accommodation at our partner institution. Not every institution will be able to meet your accommodation requirements, but we can direct you to the institution that can. We encourage you to contact CIE well before you apply for a program so that we can communicate with our partners to ensure a clear understanding of what types of accommodation are actually available.
After you are nominated, you can provide a letter from your Accessibility Officer detailing the accommodation(s) you receive here at U of T. This way we can match accommodation(s) and help you to create a plan for going abroad.