Beyond Borders: University of Windsor’s Exchange Coordinator Dedicates Career to Cultivating Peace through International Education
Michelle Fitzgerald, a former exchange student, is the exchange coordinator at the University of Windsor.
“I love my job because I get to work with interesting students going out in the world doing interesting things and I get to live vicariously through them,” said Fitzgerald.
Students who participate in one of these exchanges invariably report that it is the single most valuable part of their university experience.
(Image: Duomo di Milano, Italy/ Amsterdam, Netherlands, Ireland/ Venice, Italy, Rijksmuseum Gardens, Netherlands/ Monesterio dos Jerónimos, Portugal/ Duomo di Firenze, Italy/ Sahara Desert, Morocco, Fontana di Trevi, Italy)
(Photo credits: Gabrielle Doey)
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to participate in a student exchange program. Through the University of Windsor’s student exchange program, I was able to complete my third-year university studies at Universite Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France. Attending university at Lyon 3 allowed me to improve my French language skills in an immersive environment while continuing to fulfil degree requirements for my program,” said Gabrielle Doey
Doey is a fourth-year Honours International Relations and Development Studies student minoring in French Studies.
“The key thing with exchange is that students must apply in the second year of their program to go on exchange in 3rd year. The classes that you take in exchange are designed as the classes you would otherwise take in UWindsor; however, they are different. Hence, my suggestion to prospective exchange students is to keep enough room left to take electives, that can be studied through these exchange programs,” said Fitzgerald.
“University of Windsor is the only school in Ontario that has made it possible to send Nursing students on exchange as well. We have also managed to send students pursuing environmental studies as well,” added Fitzgerald.
Kayla Jakobszen was an undergraduate student pursuing the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Windsor, who went on exchange.
“I went to live in Wales for the second semester of my third year. I had wanted to go on exchange for years as my grandpa told me about it when I was still in high school. I made sure to plan my classes accordingly. While I was there, I took two English classes to complete my English minor and a Climatology class for my major. I had to find classes that would have an equivalent class in Windsor, but these classes also provided the opportunity to learn some new things that I never could’ve learned here. For example, one of my English classes was called Fragments of Union: The Cultural Making and Breaking of Britain,” said Jakobszen.
Exchange is a chance to discover independence, passion, spirit, and enrich knowledge base, not only academically but in a worldly sense as well.
“My job is building world peace because the whole concept of exchange started after the world wars. The idea was that if young people went, lived, and studied in other places and made friends and connections, it would grow world peace. Hence, I play my part in it as we need more world peace in today’s time,” said Fitzgerald.
Students going on exchange have reported how incredible their experience was and the benefits they enjoyed.
“I made lasting friendships and had the opportunity to travel all around the UK seeing sights like Stonehenge, Bath, London, Oxford, and a week-long trip to Scotland with friends that I had made! Even after the exchange I have kept in touch with them through video chats and in-person trips together. I had high tea in England’s oldest coffee house in Oxford and laughed with friends around a bonfire at Swansea Bay beach. After I was done my school, I packed my stuff in a backpack and went backpacking for two months across Europe,” said Jacobszen.
“Overall, I had an incredible experience. My sole piece of advice is to make this experience unique to you. You are in charge of your own experience so seek out new opportunities and experiences. This can be an amazing opportunity that impacts the trajectory of your new passions and ambitions so appreciate every moment,” added Doey.
(Image 1: Portugal) (Photo credits: Gabrielle Doey)
To learn more about the exchange program, book an appointment with Fitzgerald through MySuccess.
“Don’t forget to come with a list of questions when you come to meet me,” said Fitzgerald.