International exchange students benefit from Global Affairs Canada scholarships

Advancing global engagement is one of York University’s priorities, as stated in the University Academic Plan, and Global Affairs Canada is lending a helping hand.

Through its International Scholarships Program, Global Affairs Canada makes it possible for international students to study or conduct research at York University and other Canadian institutions as a way of assisting internationalization efforts promoting Canada as a top study/research destination abroad. With pandemic travel restrictions now in the rearview mirror, international students are once again taking advantage of study abroad opportunities, and York’s student body is richer as a result. My Duong from Vietnam and Marina Simei from Brazil are among those exchange students who have swelled the ranks at York.

Duong, a third-year economics student from Vietnam National University, had always wanted to go on an exchange and had her eye on Canada as a place she’d like to experience. Her university is one of York’s partners and when she learned about the International Scholarships Program, she inquired into it. After an eight-month process involving her university, York and Global Affairs Canada, Duong received approval for a one-term exchange. By that time, she had only a month to prepare for her semester at York. Luckily, the team at York International (YI), the York office that oversees international exchanges, was on hand to smooth her path.

The Global Learning team at YI was extremely helpful,” said Duong. “I could email tem directly about my application and without them, my trip wouldn’t have been possible. The entire team was very welcoming.”

Once she arrived, Duong was apprehensive about the language, since “using English compared to learning English are two different things.”

She has found her professors to be very helpful and took YI’s advice to email her professors, let them know she was an exchange student and ask for tips on succeeding in class. Joining a study group has helped her meet others, and she enjoyed events organized by YI, by her residence and by the Vietnamese Students Association. She also volunteered for YI’s Global Outreach Program, offering insights about her home university to potential exchange students.

Since Vietnam National University is a York partner, the credits Duong earns here will count toward her degree. She registered for four economics courses and is confident that she is “doing okay.

“I am grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “I appreciate Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development by Global Affairs Canada. As a first-generation student from a developing country, this scholarship has been a cornerstone of my journey, offering me opportunities I never imagined possible. I am also grateful to the team at my home university for helping to make this experience a reality.”

Duong plans to pursue a master’s degree in economics and give back to her country. She has been impressed by the emphasis on sustainability at York.

“I am passionate about environmental economics, especially for Vietnam as a developing country. There is a lot we can do and I want to contribute my share.”

Simei, a fourth-year languages and literature student from the State University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, has enjoyed spending a term at York University on an Emerging Leaders in the Americas scholarship from Global Affairs Canada.

“I started studying language and literature because I began teaching English in Brazil,” Simei said. “I’d never been to an English-speaking country before and Canada was my choice.

“Being in a really multi-cultural context is amazing. I’ve never been in a place with people from all over the world and I’ve liked that.”

Her credits from York won’t count toward her degree, so “I have used the opportunity to take courses I wouldn’t be able to do at home because they aren’t offered,” Simei said. Her schedule included a couple of dance classes, an art that is her passion; Asian Philosophical Traditions; and Health, Storytelling & Media.

She lived off campus and became part of a contact improvisational dance community, so she made friends both at York and in the community.

“I’m a bit sad that the scholarship is only for one term, because I know there’s a lot more to see, but I’m in need of a rest and I miss my family,” Simei said. “It was a long process to get accepted for this scholarship, but it has been an amazing experience.”

Global Affairs Canada offers a number of scholarships to students for study in Canada and applications for the 2024-2025 school year are now open. Faculty members who have connections at institutions abroad are encouraged to promote these scholarships to their colleagues. More information is available through York International.