Jacqueline Written by Jacqueline (she/her), student

Why not add some adventure to your degree? At Waterloo, there are plenty of opportunities to experience something new. Expanding your degree and studying abroad is an incredible way to do so.

In my third year, I decided to move across the Atlantic Ocean to Germany and study at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. It's the highlight of my university experience as I gained so much valuable experience from living and studying in a different country. If you love travelling and broadening your horizons, I would recommend doing an exchange!

Not convinced yet? Here are my top ten reasons for studying abroad!

Experience a different culture

Living in a new country means that you get first-hand experience with a new culture. Try out new foods, listen to different music, learn about the local history/ religion, and experience art. Discovering a new culture is one of the best things about living in a country versus travelling to a country: you truly get to participate and be a part of it. Living in the Black Forest region of Germany allowed me to eat the traditional Alsatian cuisine. I got to release my inner foodie by trying foods like Black Forest Cake, flammkuchen, and spätzle.

Develop skills for school and life

Learn a new language (or practice your second language)

Möchten Sie eine neue Sprache lernen? [Would you like to learn a new language?] While I met many Canadians overseas studying in countries where French is spoken to improve their second language, I decided to take the opportunity to learn a new language.

I took two German language classes before going abroad, so I had some basic language skills (like reading a restaurant menu and finding the washrooms).

However, it wasn’t until I was immersed myself into the language that I made progress on speaking German. I ended up taking enough German classes while on exchange to earn a German Language Certificate as part of my degree.

Brush up your résumé

The world is becoming more globalized and so is the workplace. Interacting with people who speak different languages, come from different cultures, and have different backgrounds will help you adapt to working with a variety of people.

Cross-cultural and international skills are what many employers are looking for now. 


A group of friends.

Friendship doesn’t have borders - these are my best friends from my exchange; Veronika from the Czech Republic, Stefano from Italy, and Lik from Hong Kong.

Learn and grow beyond your expectations

Take new classes

While studying abroad, you can take classes at your host university that may not be offered at Waterloo, and learn new topics that your Waterloo counterparts can’t.

Examples of classes at my German university that aren’t offered at Waterloo are renewable energy and energy efficiencies, German living and understanding, Germany and the Europe Union, and Germany: King of the world in football.

Gain your independence

When you move anywhere new, there are always responsibilities to handle. This is no different when you move abroad to a new country. You need to make sure you have all the proper documentation, possibly open a local bank account, and figure out how to get around the city.

These responsibilities really help you develop your independence and grow as a person. If this sounds daunting, don’t worry! There are people at Waterloo and your host university who are always available to ask questions and assist in these tasks.


Make friends from all around the world

One of the best parts of living abroad is making a bunch of friends from all over the world. They essentially become your family away from home. There's always something to talk about – whether it’s learning about their home country, talking about new places to explore in the city, or convincing them to teach you funny words in a new language!

Personal development

There is a learning curve when you move to a new place, but this is a huge growth opportunity. Stepping out of your comfort zone allows you to challenge yourself, such as learning how to shop for groceries in a new language. Situations like these develop your confidence and allow you to flourish.


Wave your flag

While abroad, you get to showcase your home country. I had many conversations where all the exchange students compared our politics, TV shows, food, drinks, and more. Living abroad means you get to show off how awesome your home country is! I developed a deeper appreciation for being Canadian while living in Germany.

A girl holding a Canadian flag.

Proudly waving my Canadian flag while in the mountains of the Black Forest.

Appreciate the smaller things

When you move away, you live a more minimalist lifestyle. Normally, I over pack, but when I moved to Germany, I brought only one suitcase of clothes. I soon realized that materialistic items had less meaning. I started to appreciate all the little things that brought joy into my life. The friends I made at my new university became my family and the experiences we had together were more valuable than any product. I also became grateful for my friends and family back home and all the help they provided while I was abroad.

And last but not least, travelling!

Living in a different country often means you’re also living near other countries to explore. Travelling locally/regionally is very inexpensive in many places around the world. Within Europe, I saw flights to other European countries for under $15. This allowed me to have many weekend trips to countries such as Spain, Italy, and Sweden, while also exploring other parts of Germany. I got to learn about the history in all these amazing countries and experience the culture. These adventures made studying and learning so much fun.

A girl sitting on a bench with beautiful architecture in the background.

Enjoying Park Güell while on a weekend trip to Barcelona, Spain.

Want more information on the application process or funding opportunities? Check out the Student Success Office’s Go Abroad page.



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