Study abroad and exchange opportunities represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse oneself in another culture, society, language, and environment; to make new friends and to benefit from different styles of teaching, whilst continuing to study.
SEMESTER EXCHANGE Opportunities
What is it?
*Students must begin this process a minimum of one year in advance*
- Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss the feasibility of a semester abroad.
- A semester exchange must not alter your graduation timeline.
- You must understand what your Niagara College program requirements are, including compulsory and elective course requirements.
- Research possible semester exchange locations and determine your top three choices.
- Meet with a Niagara College Study & Work Abroad Advisor to discuss the feasibility of a semester abroad and determine which Academic Partner is best suited for you.
- Submit an Expression of Interest and completed Budget Template to [email protected].
- Your Expression of Interest should outline why you have chosen to study abroad, why you have chosen this partner institute, how a semester exchange will benefit you now and in the future as well as any other information you deem relevant.
- Complete a Learning Agreement and meet with your Study & Work Abroad Advisor for review.
- When the Learning Agreement has been completed and approved, Be World Ready will begin the semester exchange nomination process with the academic partner. Please note that this process may take up to 6 months.
- All domestic and international full-time Niagara College students enrolled in a 3 Year Advanced Diploma or a 4 Year Bachelor Degree are eligible to apply for a semester exchange.
- Students who are enrolled in a 2 Year Diploma program, are encouraged to visit www.beworldready.ca and view other international opportunities such as International Field Studies, Summer Institutes, and Volunteer/Work Abroad options. All international opportunities are eligible for a Be World Ready grant up to $500.
- 3 Year Advanced Diploma students are eligible to participate in a semester exchange during the 4th & 5th term. Be World Ready and Program Coordinators will assist students in determining what term best suits student’s educational goals while studying abroad.
- 4 Year Bachelor Degree students are eligible to participate in a semester exchange during the 6th, 7th, & 8th terms. Be World Ready and Program Coordinators will assist students in determining what term best suits student’s educational goals while studying abroad.
- All academic requirements must be completed by the end of academic term, under no circumstances will coursework or exams be allowed to take place after the end of the term. For example, for a fall semester exchange all coursework and exams must be completed by December 31st.
- Students must be in good academic standing with a GPA of 60% or higher to be eligible for a semester exchange.
- Students must have a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months after day of arrival in host country. If students require visa to enter the host country, Niagara College will support the applicants through this process. Please see the visa section of this page for more information regarding acquiring visas.
- Students must submit an application for a semester exchange on the Be World Ready website no later than the following dates. If applications are received after the deadlines an exchange may not be possible for the desired year.
- Winter 2020 Exchange: Application due by June 1, 2019
- Fall 2020 Exchange: Application due by February 1, 2020
- Winter 2021 Exchange: Application due by June 1, 2020
- Fall 2021 Exchange: Application due by February 1, 2021
Students must research and select a host institution themselves. Be World Ready and Niagara College will only assist in building an academic plan for one institute per student.
Students are encouraged to research what each institute offers regards to academics, student life, and facilities, along with the culture and cost of living in the host country. It is important to note which institutes are located in the city center and which are in residential areas as this will affect transportation availability and housing costs.
Once a partner institute has been chosen, students must email [email protected] to arrange an appointment with a Be World Ready team member. This meeting will cover a variety of subjects including course progression, academic plan, timeline, and next steps.
Be World Ready will review the academic requirements of each student’s Niagara College Program to assess the viability of a semester exchange. For specialized programs, international partner institutes may not offer courses which satisfy Niagara College’s academic requirements. In this scenario students may be able to take courses abroad which will satisfy 3-5 general elective credits.
If the academic requirements of a Niagara College Program will not be satisfied by an international partner institutions, a semester exchange will not be possible. Academic success is the main priority of Niagara College.
Be World Ready will work with NC and partner institute Academic Advisors to find courses that match the academic schedule of a student’s Niagara College Program. In some cases, required courses are available only one semester a year. In this case, a semester exchange student will be required to take this course in addition to their regular full-time studies or have their path to graduation pushed back. Niagara College Academic Advisors will liaison with Be World Ready to ensure student success.
When available, students will select courses that satisfy their Niagara College Program requirements. It is important to make an informed decision when choosing courses as adding or dropping courses may not be possible once enrolled.
A list of desired courses, ranked in order of preference, must be sent to Be World Ready as soon as possible allow adequate time to prepare a Preliminary Learning Agreement.
All coursework and exams are required to be completed in the host country by the end of the academic term. Exams and coursework cannot be completed upon return to Canada. Courses may be 100% coursework based and have a final exam. These courses are called Continuously Assessed (CA) courses.
Learning Agreement (2–6 Weeks)
A Learning Agreement documents all equivalencies, exemptions and other important course information. This document will dictate how credits earned at a partner institute will be allocated on a Niagara College Transcript. A Learning Agreement must be approved by Be World Ready, the partner institute and Associate Dean.
An Associate Dean will review all course details for the partner institute and Niagara College and determine course equivalency. If and Associate Dean does not believe a semester exchange is in the students best academic interests they may deny the Learning Agreement or deny a student’s request to participate in a semester exchange.
Learning Agreement Example: A learning Agreement may state that a student is receiving 2 General Elective credits, 1 Language Elective, and 1 credit equivalent to COMM 1145.
Formal Nomination (4-6 Weeks)
When a Learning Agreement is approved, Be World Ready will formally submit a package of documents to support the student’s application for a semester exchange with the partner institution. Be World Ready will notify students of their application approval or denial when a decision is reached by the partner institute.
Upon nomination approval, some institutes may require students to complete an application package. This application will have students state their personal information (name, DOB, address etc.), educational background information, and desired courses. It may also include a section where students are required to write why they chose the partner institute, why they chose to study abroad, and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
Upon completion, this application package will be stamped by Be World Ready and sent by post to the partner institution for review.
A visa is an official government document that authorizes an individual to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. A semester exchange student may require a study visa for entry into the host country. A Study Visa/Permit will allow students to legally study and reside in the host country for the duration of their study period.
If a study visa or permit is required, Be World Ready and Niagara College will support students with documents to obtain the visa. Students are responsible for the full cost of any documents, visa fees, and travel expenses to an embassy or consulate. Visa fees range from $100 – $800 CAD depending on the destination.
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European nations which have abolished all passport and border controls at their mutual borders. This means there is freedom of movement between countries without traditional border controls such as those between Canada and the USA. Because of this agreement, if a student were to obtain a study permit for Italy, they would then be able to freely enter 25 other countries.
To receive a study permit for Ireland, students may enter Ireland on a tourist visa and register with the Irish Immigration Department within 90 days. Be World Ready recommends scheduling an appointment with an immigration officer at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) soon after arrival.
GNIB approval will require a letter of enrolment from the partner institute in Ireland, an open Irish bank account with sufficient funds to allow for the duration of your stay, and a copy of student’s fingerprints. Note that an Irish study permit does not allow for entry into other countries and students may wish to consider acquiring a Schengen Tourist Visa.
Niagara College does not provide or arrange housing for students on a semester exchange.
Most institutions do not allow semester exchange students to stay in on-campus residences.
However, housing is often supported by our partner institutes’ student government and international student office. Many student governments maintain a database of student housing, flat shares, and homestays. Be World Ready recommends students contact the partner institutes student government to see what services are available.
Students are free to stay in any type of housing including a house share, apartment, or homestay. The most common accommodation for students participating in a semester exchange is living with a host family in a homestay.
It may be challenging to find accommodation prior to arrival in the country. Some students travel to the host country 1-3 weeks prior to the start of classes to find accommodation.
The Be World Ready International Mobility Assistant is happy to assist in booking student’s flights, however students must research flights prior to contacting the International Mobility Assistant.
Students are welcome to book flights themselves, with the Be World Ready International Mobility Assistant or with their preferred travel agent.
We recommend that you arrive at least 5 days prior to the start of classes.
Below are some average roundtrip flight costs between Canada and select markets. Please note that these prices are estimates and are not guaranteed as they may change at any time.
Canada – Europe: $800 – $1400 including taxes per person
Canada – Asia: $1000 – $1500 including taxes per person
Canada – South America: $600 – $1200 including taxes per person
Students are encouraged to travel while abroad as long as studies remain a priority.
It is strongly recommended that students purchase travel insurance for the duration of their time abroad. For Ontario residents, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan is not valid outside of Canada. Study permits/visas may require proof of insurance to be approved, and many international institutions require proof of travel insurance for international students.
Niagara College offers a discounted rate with Guard.me Insurance, however students are welcome to choose an alternate insurer.
Prior to departure, students will have a meeting with the Be World Ready team to discuss the final details of their exchange. This meeting will include tools to help cope with culture shock, studying abroad, and tips from students who have previously embarked on an exchange.
Students will also need to complete the following online pre-departure training via blackboard.
- Five modules and four quizzes
- Registration of Canadians Abroad (if applicable)
- Risk Management Form
- Email Be World Ready a budget for the expenses that will be incurred during the time abroad
Please provide Be World Ready with all flight information. Students may wish to pre-arrange transportation from the airport to accommodation via private transfer or public transit. Be World Ready will try to arrange a campus tour of the partner institute as well as the opportunity to meet their International Coordinator.
Living abroad can be an emotional roller coaster. There are the challenges of making new friends, experiencing a new culture, and being far away from the home and life you are familiar with. This experience is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change your opinions and views on a wide range of topics. Please remember that Be World Ready is always available to talk whether students are feeling homesick or want to share an amazing day.
Students will likely find a new sense of independence living abroad. From finding housing, learning to navigate a foreign transit system, trying new foods, and immersion in a new culture. Independence is just one of many skills that will help differentiate semester exchange students from others entering the workforce.
Students may find themselves with much more free time than normal. Be World Ready recommends traveling on weekends, getting involved in clubs or sports, or taking up a new hobby. The opportunities are truly endless!
Depending on the institution, timetable selection can happen 4-6 weeks prior to the start of classes (similar to NC) or during the first few days prior to classes. This process is often a stressful time for students as there can be little instruction of what to do or how to do it. This will be a time where students will require both perseverance and resilience. Please remember that there are many other international students who will be in the same position and that you are not alone in your quest for a timetable.
The staff at our partner institution will provide semester exchange students with instructions for obtaining their timetable, it may be online or on paper. There may be scheduling conflicts with courses from the learning agreement, this is why we approve more courses than needed. Students will have extra courses available to fill in gaps from a conflict. In the rare event that students are not able to schedule a full course load, notify both Be World Ready and International Coordinator at the partner institution and we will work to find a solution.
A daunting but essential part of living abroad is budgeting! Students will need to manage expenses and keep the currency exchange rate in mind. It is important to have enough money to live comfortably, and be able to try new things. It would be a shame to miss out on a one of a kind experience due to spending too much on non-essentials.
It can be helpful for the first 2-3 weeks to record all expenses and budget off of that. It can be hard to judge expenses before arrival, so this will provide an opportunity to adjust and plan for remainder of your time abroad.
Be World Ready recommends students budget for $900-$1500 per month. This is a general estimate for all destinations, however European cities are typically more expensive than South American cities. If possible, it is best to have access to more finances than originally estimated. A financial cushion can help reduce one area of stress and worry while away from home.
Some of the most memorable moments of a semester exchange will happen outside of the classroom, and possibly outside of the host country! While studying abroad, students may want to experience more than the culture and lifestyle of the host country. Students are free to travel as much or as little as they like during their semester exchange. However, studies must remain a priority as that is the purpose of a semester exchange. If students do opt to travel outside of the host country, we ask that you please share your travel details with the Be World Ready team and be mindful if any travel visas are required.
Niagara College and its global educational partners DO NOT exchange fees. This means students will only pay the full-time NC tuition.
Costs can vary greatly depending on the location of the partner institute, housing and lifestyle.
Below is a sample estimate of a monthly budget for a European semester exchange.
As these costs are only an estimate, please ensure that you research the city where the partner institute is located and the subsequent living costs.
Including airfare and a small cushion of emergency funds, a semester exchange will cost an estimated $5000-$7000 CAD.
Returning home can be a very emotional experience. You have just experienced another world for the past 4+ months and are the only one who truly understands its impact. Reverse culture shock is real, and some students will experience it more than the initial shock of living in a new country.
What was “normal’ before leaving, may now seem foreign and uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to adjust. The ending of a semester exchange is the beginning of a new journey. Students may have different outlooks, values and passions to pursue.
Returning to classes at NC will likely take some re-adjusting. Class structures and assignments may seem different than before; students may find themselves more interested in interacting with international students than previously.
The return “home” will likely have many highs and lows, but overall, most semester exchange students agree it is one of the best decisions they have ever made and truly helped them become “World Ready”.
All semester exchange students are eligible to qualify for a $500 Be World Ready Grant.
To qualify and receive the grant, students must complete the following.
- Online pre-departure training via blackboard.
- Five modules and four quizzes
- Registration of Canadians Abroad (if applicable)
- Risk Management Form
- Email Be World Ready a budget for the expenses that will be incurred during the time abroad
- Submit two JPEG images from the semester exchange. Please note: these photos MUST depict the student in the destination of the experience. Be World Ready must be able to verify the country and cultural setting in which the student has completed the semester exchange.
- Complete the BWR Grant Submission Form(to be emailed to the student prior to departure). Details of the Grant
Submission Form include:
- A well-written, 500-word essay outlining how the trip has helped the student become ‘World-Ready’
- Use examples of the skills learned and the cultural activities experienced while abroad. The student must ensure to reference how the experience abroad has prepared them for success in a future career upon graduation
Be World Ready will review the documents provided by the student and notify the student if they are approved to receive grant funding for the experience. If approved, the student will be awarded the Be World Ready Grant in the form of a refund to their student account. Refunds can be issued in the Registrars’ office to have their refund applied to a debit/bank card.
Prior to embarking on your new adventure abroad, Be World Ready advises that you make an appointment with your co-op consultant to discuss the following topics and to ensure all is in order before leaving Canada.
- Impacts on your co-op work term (start and end dates)
- Responsibilities while you are away (active job searching and staying connected)
- Resume & Cover letters
- Potential opportunities for staying abroad for your co-op
- Required enrolment and registration process
- Deadlines and academic eligibility
The above notes are key factors that play into your program success and we want to keep you on track for graduation. Once you have accepted the semester exchange, please book an appointment with your Co-op Consultant AND meet with your academic advisor to go over courses you will be taking.