So much self-discovery and self-reflection comes with studying abroad.


What brought you to UPEI? Why did you choose to study here?

I’m from Brudenell, PEI and chose to study at UPEI because of the Study Abroad program, financial aid opportunities, and course and program selection. It was an easy decision for me!

How did you find out about the opportunity to study abroad?

I vividly remember being in Grade 11 and receiving a presentation from two UPEI alumni who were sharing their experiences from their time studying abroad. They had compiled an amazing pros and cons list—and of course the pros heavily outweighed the cons. I recall being so excited that this was an opportunity at UPEI, and as I finished the rest of my high school years, it set in how much I wanted to partake in an experience like theirs.

What is so amazing about UPEI’s study abroad programs are that they are frequent, offer course content to different majors, and have various funding opportunities. I have been a part of two study abroad opportunities at UPEI. The first was a “Maymester” in Rome, Italy for a course called “Rome: Christianity and Culture”. Having a faculty-led experience was so enriching and gave us many opportunities to ask questions and take in Rome’s beautiful history. 

Where did you travel and what were the main highlights of your experience abroad?

UPEI student Kathleen in Jyväskylä, Finland in winterI am currently studying for a semester at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. I began the semester in January and will be here until the end of May. Out of the many partner schools to choose from, I chose to study at JYU because I knew that Finland had been recognized for having a world-class education system, as well as being safe and environmentally conscious. The allure of living in the “happiest country in the world” was very convincing too.

The main highlights of my time abroad were, without a doubt, the people I met, the travel opportunities, and the newfound cultural appreciation. The connections made from studying abroad are some like I have never had before, and I am so happy to have made the memories I did with said people. There was an instance with my newly-made friends that really stood out: we were on a bus coming home and noticed a girl sitting in front of us holding an outstretched poster. We could read the words “HIKE” on it and were so intrigued that we decided to ask her for more information. She told us that the hike was called the “Hike for Freedom” happening the following week around Jyväskylä, our University city. This hike has happened annually with her and her small group of friends for the past three years, to celebrate the act of Independence in Lithuania, as well as this year, aspiring the persistent strength and victory of Ukraine. She wanted to open the hike to as many people as she could to raise awareness. My friends and I took part in the hike the next week and had the opportunity to listen to the stories of fellow students from Ukraine and what it was like for them to be studying at JYU while staying in contact with and having consistent updates from their families back home. This experience was beyond eye-opening not only as a Canadian who felt so far away and untouched, but also as a teenage girl who couldn’t imagine what it was like for her fellow peers.

Being enrolled at a university in Europe also allows for various travel opportunities as there are many easy and affordable options to choose from when travelling country to country. It is amazing to be immersed in another culture – to learn some of the native language, interact with locals and visit museums and historical sites. I was able to meet family members in neighbouring countries and check off various sights on my bucket list!

How do you feel the experience of studying and living in another country will impact your future plans?

These experiences, specifically at JYU, have given me a great deal of confidence—in myself and my capabilities. Considering I am only finishing my second year of studies, it is reassuring to imagine that I can study abroad for another semester (or two) if I would like to! It has also allowed me to indulge in the idea of someday having a job that may require international travel, and to be excited rather than intimidated about this. 

“Studying abroad allows you to explore new cultures, languages, and academic opportunities. It can be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience that offers numerous personal and professional benefits.”

What would you say to a student considering a UPEI study abroad experience?

UPEI student Kathleen in Jyväskylä, Finland in a cafeTo anyone considering participating in a UPEI study abroad opportunity, I can’t say enough good things about it. The support you receive from the Office of Study Abroad at UPEI makes the entire process that much easier, and you can tell they love seeing their students succeed and take part in experiences like this. If considering, I would do plenty of research about your potential place of study and ask as many questions as you can to both sides to feel more comfortable! Looking at the to-do list for the application may feel overwhelming, but I suggest starting as early as possible and again, reaching out to the office if you need any help. Once you start checking things off, you wouldn’t believe how simple the process really is!

On top of making meaningful connections with other students while you are studying abroad, there is also so much self-discovery and self-reflection that comes with this experience. Studying abroad allows you to explore new cultures, languages, and academic opportunities. It can be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience that offers numerous personal and professional benefits.


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