By taking part in the university’s study abroad program, she visited friends and family who live in far off places, adjusted to different learning styles and cultures, ate unique and delicious foods, discovered her strengths, made unforgettable memories, explored new languages, developed confidence and a life plan—and, let’s not forget, earned an undergraduate degree.
“The allure of studying in a different country, where the culture and language are different from my own, is huge,” said Fortowsky.
“You can learn so much from all the new people around you and your view of things will change, too. Each time I have gone abroad, I have learned something new and have come away with amazing new memories that I couldn’t have made in my own country.”
Fortowsky earned about half of the credits for her bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics abroad in Germany, Finland and South Korea, all the while having experiences of a lifetime.
In the summer of 2017, Fortowsky took part in a summer language exchange at SDI Munchen (Munich) in Germany. In the winter of 2018, she attended Helsinki University in Finland, and in the summer and fall of the same year, she attended Chung-Ang University in South Korea.
In 2017, Fortowsky researched scholarships available to help subsidize her trip to Germany, and the work paid off. She applied to as many as she could, something she recommends all students take the time to do.
“I got four scholarships, and that paid for everything,” said Fortowsky. “I went to 15 countries before I went to SDI Munchen because I had all that extra money. It’s work to apply for scholarships, but if you get them, it’s really worth it.”
While studying in Finland, Fortowsky had the chance to travel across Europe, to Lapland in northern Finland and St. Petersburg in Russia, as well as to Latvia, Greece, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Fortowsky was in Finland from January until mid-June of last year. In January, she lived on four or five hours of sunlight a day, while in the summer, she remembers it was still light out at 3 am.
Fortowsky’s fondest memory in Finland was on one of those dark days in March.
“I was at my friend’s cabin and outside of the cabin they have their own sauna cabin and, oh my gosh, it’s amazing, it’s lovely. With all the fresh snow and just quiet, it was gorgeous,” said Fortowsky.
“I had just come out of the sauna and it’s pitch dark, I could see the stars, and across the sky in wavy sheets is a bright green aurora, and then in that moment a shooting star passed by, and I thought to myself, ‘This is perfect.’ An absolutely perfect moment.”
While the Finnish landscape astounded Fortowsky, she was moved by South Korea’s history and welcoming community—that and the fried chicken that she thinks is the best in the world.
“The moment you say ‘hello’ in Korean, everyone’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’re amazing’ and they’re so, so happy to help you with anything,” said Fortowsky. “They’re extremely welcoming people.”
Fortowsky credits a group of Korean students at Chung-Ang University for her unforgettable experience.
“There’s a group made up of 18 or 19 Korean students called GLAM, or global ambassadors, who help all the international students,” said Fortowsky. “I became really good friends with the group of them because I took the time to try and speak Korean with them, and I was very interested in learning more from them.
“Because of them my exchange was amazing. Some of them even introduced some of their friends to me and we all went out for dinner together. We went to noraebang, which is karaoke, and we went to an archery café. Really, the GLAMS were the best part of my exchange.”
After graduating this spring, Fortowsky plans to go back to South Korea to teach English and pursue a master’s degree.
Faculty can learn more about the steps involved in proposing a study abroad program by visiting teaching.usask.ca. Students can learn more about studying abroad at goabroad.usask.ca, or contact the International Student and Study Abroad Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.