Choosing a CIE Program
Researching an institution's course offerings is a great way to see if they are compatible with your Subject POSt. For students in Engineering, Commerce, Kinesiology and Physical Education or Graduate Studies, it is recommended that you look at CIE's Faculty Considerations page to see if there are any restrictions or other special conditions that you should be aware of.
Questions To Ask Yourself
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you are choosing a program:
- How much support am I looking for from the host institution or program?
- Am I more interested in being near natural environments or in an urban setting?
- Do I want to attend a larger institution or a smaller one?
- Does the institution I am considering have a course selection that is interesting to me?
- Could any of my current professors recommend institutions where interesting work is occurring?
- What is my budget and which city's cost of living is compatible with it?
- Are there any research opportunities or joint minor programs that fit with what I am studying?
What do I need to get out of this experience?
This is a slightly different question from the ones above. When deciding between study abroad opportunities, you should also consider your program requirements:
- What would make going abroad not worth it for you?
- Are the goals you determined above enough to make it worthwhile?
- Do you need the grades you receive while abroad to show on your U of T transcript (vs. the credits alone)? If the actual grades are important for you, then you might want to consider a Joint Minor or Research.
- Do you need professional experience? If so, you might consider Research or an Internship.
- Do you need a full course load transferred back to U of T?
Keep in mind that some degree of academic risk is part of all CIE programs.
What language skills do I have?
Many of CIE's partner institutions teach in English, but not all of them. If you have working knowledge of or fluency in another language, this will open up more options for you. Please consult the web page of your first choice institution or program to determine what language requirements you must meet.
What can I afford?
Money is always a factor in determining where you can go. Living expenses in some countries or cities are higher than in others. Similarly, flights to some destinations are more expensive than others. CIE has put together some information to help you forecast the cost of your time away. Check the international office web pages at the institutions you are interested in — in some cases local cost of living information will be provided. There are also lots of scholarships and bursaries available, as well as financial aid. Please see the Funding page for more information.
Summer, Semester or Year — For how long should I go abroad?
CIE recommends that, where possible, students go abroad for a year. It takes time to adjust to a new environment. If you go abroad for one semester, you may find that you are returning home just when things are getting going. However, if you can only go for a shorter period, that is certainly still worth it.
Consider how much time you can realistically spend abroad. This is a decision that depends partly on your finances (see the section above), partly on your academic program and partly on your personality and family situation.
When considering your academic program, you should develop an academic plan in conjunction with your U of T faculty, college, program or department:
- What degree requirements do you have left?
- What subject POSt requirements remain?
- Can any or all of these be done abroad?
When considering your personality and family situation, think about the following:
- How long can you be away from family?
- Do you have responsibilities at home that may be difficult to leave?
- How long can you be away from your friends?
- How long can you be away from your significant other?
- How long can you be away from Toronto or from Canada?
You may not be able to answer these questions accurately before you've been away for an extended period of time, but it is good to try to think about how being away will be for you.
Sometimes the program you are interested in will determine how long you are away. Some programs or institutions are only available for a full academic year and others for just a summer. Others still have semester dates that do not match up smoothly with U of T — meaning that a Fall Semester exchange with the Winter Semester back at U of T or a Winter Semester abroad with the Summer Semester back in Canada might not be possible. Please consult the web page of your first choice institution or program to determine if your timeline will work.
How Do I Get More Information?
There are many ways that you can find information about particular institutions. Web research is one good way, but also consider these other avenues:
Information Sessions: Please join our portal group 'StudyAbroad' to browse upcoming sessions and receive exciting program notifications.
Resource Library: CIE has a resource library with information from most of our partners (i.e., course catalogues, promotional material, accommodation flyers, etc.). You can find the Resource Library in the new Global Lounge at CIE starting in January 2011.
Talk with a Former Exchange Student: CIE can link you up with a U of T student who has participated in the program you are interested in or with an exchange student at U of T who hails from the partner institution you are thinking about. Please contact our program office for more details.
Meet with a Study Abroad Officer
If you feel that you still need advice on choosing an institution even after you've done online research and been to an information session, then make an appointment to speak with a Study Abroad Officer. Please complete a Study Abroad Assessment form and email it to us to request an appointment. You will be called to confirm your appointment time.
Sometimes it helps to talk to other exchange students when you are deciding where to go. Join our Facebook page so that you can connect to other students who have been abroad.