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Exploring world vistas

A year of overseas learning brings incredible changes to student's life

October 21, 2013

Exploring world vistas
Margaret Sawatzky: "After studying for a year in the U.K., I'm more confident and independent. I can even see myself working abroad in the future."

Now that Margaret Sawatzky has studied for a year overseas, she can see herself working abroad. That’s quite a change, considering Margaret had never ventured far outside of Canada.
Having received the David J. Stenason Global Opportunities Award, she enrolled at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, U.K. for the 2012/13 academic year. Through her classes in ecology and biological sciences, she broadened her learning experiences.

“This year, I’ve been able to dig deeper into topics and ideas that interest me, such as bio-diversity and conservation,” says the third-year biology student. “Studying these issues at UEA has confirmed my desire to pursue a career in conservation work.”

That work could take Margaret back overseas. “With my year in the U.K., I’m more confident to head into unknown territory and take on new adventures,” says the 21-year-old. “I would love to work in a developing country to explore the impact of ecological conservation on people.”

Being immersed in a university setting with students from around the world has also fed Margaret’s desire for global experiences. She now counts students from Bangladesh, Slovenia and Kazakhstan – whom she met at UEA – as her friends.

“Meeting a lot of international students and learning about their cultures has been an amazing experience,” she adds.

Studying at UEA has also exposed Margaret to different types of learning, with more focused group work and interactive lectures, and out-of-classroom experiences.

For a British landscape course, her class toured Iron Age and Norman earthworks. Then, for a history class, she visited the site in central England where the bones of Richard III were recently unearthed.

“When I stop and think about my time in the U.K., it’s quite staggering to consider what I’ve learned and seen. I’m overwhelmed and thankful to have this experience.”

She’s thankful too for her student award, which helped fund her yearlong program at UEA. “It’s gratifying to know donors are supporting awards that make international learning and exchange programs possible,” says Margaret.

“I know from experience that these overseas opportunities offer so much potential to broaden perspectives and explore different cultures – more than I could have expected.”

Award Facts
Granted to a student who has completed a minimum of one year of study, the David J. Stenason Global Opportunities Award supports those who want to participate in an exchange program, field course, international study, internship or other study abroad experience – and who will be an effective ambassador for Western. Established by David Stenason (BA’78), this award is matched by Western through the Global Opportunities Awards initiative.

This article appeared in the 2013 edition of Student Awards Recipient Report
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