“There isn’t any place I’d rather be,” said Biplov Ramal, 26, a Sheridan College graduate who recently travelled back to his home country of Nepal. “Traveling is an experience that lets you come back with new perspectives.”
Over the last decade, Asian academic communities have seen a massive uptick in international students. Low tuition and living costs are often cited as key factors in the economic decision as to why students want to travel abroad. But there is another important aspect to their lives.
“It’s seeing something new, experiencing another culture, and another part of the world,” said Michal Puzio, 24, a teaching student looking to travel to Japan some day. He says there are many programs out there such as the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) that Canadian students can use.
According to the Study Internation website, there is an increasing number of programs available in the English language which is “arguably the most prevalent language in the business world.” This allows many English speakers to bypass the communication barrier when travelling into other areas of the world.
Despite the pandemic travel restrictions, many students are looking forward to the future when they can experience alternative options for school and work.
Kristofer Kravis, 25, is already planning to go to Thailand in March to teach English. “A lot of it is just for me wanting to go experience things myself, I want to see what else the world has to offer. I don’t just want to be trapped in this little Canadian bubble.”
It’s important to note that different exchange programs have different requirements. For example, the JET program almost exclusively looks for students who already have Bachelors’s degrees and even with a full degree students may not be working in large cities, but rather small rural areas.
South Korea, Japan, and China all have relatively more strict recruitment processes when it comes to teaching or studying. The available accommodations will also be different and in most cases, more expensive than in more southern Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, or the Philippines.
But the experiences can be deeply rewarding.
“I’m excited to come back home and share my journey with my family and friends,” Ramal said.