Yes it IS too early in your academic career to go on an international exchange but it’s NOT too early to start planning for it!
It’s a great opportunity and privilege but you must prepare, organize and plan. You could be among the 15% of your class who go on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most students go on exchange in 3A or 3B or both. But you have to start planning early!
What is an academic exchange? You’ll get to spend one or two academic terms at a partner university where you’ll take courses equivalent to those your classmates will be taking at UW. It is common practice for engineering exchange students to remain on the same academic schedule as the rest of their cohort and graduate with their class.
We have exchange partnerships with over 80 top-tier universities in about 30 countries around the world. So you need to investigate which partner best suits your needs: many of our exchanges are restricted in numbers, some are open only to certain disciplines of engineering, for others you need to learn a new language. In some cases, it’s best to go for a one-term exchange; in others, two terms work out best.
All this is a part of planning for your future career which could take you anywhere in the world.
To get started, visit our website (search for “Engineering Exchanges” from the UW home page) for all the details.
On Facebook, look for the “UW Engineering Exchanges” group, which is specifically for outbound students and those who have been on exchange. It’s moderated by the Engineering Society (EngSoc) and Cindy Howe, the Administrative Coordinator of engineering exchanges. By the way, Cindy’s office is Carl Pollock Hall, Room 3658, and she can be reached at email@example.com.
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by! The application process takes more than a year of lead time. Applications must be submitted by November 1 for the following academic year. For example, if you want to go on exchange for your 3B term (Fall 2019), your application must be submitted on Waterloo Passport by November 1, 2018:
Finally, exchange is great for fun, travel and adventure. You’ll visit parts of the world that stay-at-home students may never experience. Don’t take my word for it; read what previous exchangers have to say:
“I wouldn’t have traded my experiences for the world. My time on exchange was great: I got to go traveling and back packing, got to meet some fantastic people from all over the world, and I graduated on time with my class and my friends! … If you are even just considering an exchange, I recommend without the slightest reservation that you go. Waking up and looking forward to every day in a new country… that’s just not a feeling that you get [if you stay at home]!” (Matthew Lee, SyDe)
Doing an exchange was probably the best decision I have ever made. I learned so much about engineering (of course), but also about European culture and history, and simply interacting with people of an entirely different background. The time and distance away from home, and the completely different lifestyle was definitely not easy to adjust to, but these aspects made the whole experience worthwhile. (Winnie Tse, MechE)