Jack Austin (Philosophy BA)
Choosing to spend half of my second year studying at the University of Toronto (UoT) was probably the best decision I've made whilst I've been here at Manchester.
Toronto was the coldest place I have ever been to (it hit -40°C and for that reason I never want to go anywhere colder).
It was also overpriced for everyday things - I remember paying $35 for a cinema ticket and a drink. UoT also expected a mountain of work from you each week (as in read a whole book for a tutorial rather than an article or two as is the norm in Manchester).
However, despite all these annoyances and inconveniences which at the time were rather frustrating, my 'study abroad' time was the most valuable six months I have had at university - if not ever.
For me, the only philosophy student to go to UoT, the first thrill was landing at the airport and making my way to my accommodation; not knowing where I was actually going and without the reassurance of a friend to help.
I would say this is one of the major lessons of studying abroad and 'being thrown in at the deep end' really doesn't have such an effect if you're not thrown in.
In terms of studying, travelling to a different university affords you the option of choosing modules that are completely different to the ones on offer in Manchester.
For example, I studied a third year Islamic Philosophy course and also a course called 'Ethics, Genetics and Reproduction' which was an applied ethics course taught by two philosophers who work on the ethics panels at Ontario's biggest hospital and fertility clinic.
Obviously discussing live (anonymous) cases of North American medical situations isn't remotely similar to an ethics course that would be available in Manchester which for me really highlighted the benefits and the diversity that is available if you decide to study abroad.
Obviously there are all the reasons to go and study abroad that are churned out such as being a great thing to have on your CV or providing you with an opportunity to learn a language. However, even if none of these professional reasons benefitted me I would still class it as my most valuable six months.
Whether it be a taste for the rest of the world or an introduction to some area of study you would never have been informed of, but once you've done it there are a multitude of reasons why you loved study abroad that you never even thought of before you went.