Take the Time to EXPLORE

If you ask my friends, they will be the first to tell you that I am a little ‘busy body’. I overload myself when it comes to all aspects of life. School. Work. Volunteer. You name it – I try to get involved. The great thing about Nipissing is that there are TONS of opportunities to get involved in areas of your own individual interest. For me, I was drawn to Nipissing due to its International Exchange Program.

I was first introduced to the idea of studying abroad at the age of 15. At this time, both of my older sisters had spent a year each on a Rotary International Youth Exchange in Taiwan and then Brazil. My mom having been a single parent of four, encouraged us to work for what we wanted, and that we each did. When the opportunity arose for me to leave, I jumped at it immediately. At 16, I moved to Peru to study on my own for a full year with plans to live with a host family. Although Peru was not my country of choice, I couldn’t imagine that experience being had anywhere else.

Having lived in Peru for a year in high school through Rotary International, I knew that experiencing another study abroad was something I needed to do before starting my career as a teacher. This ultimately became a deciding factor when picking where I wanted to study. Nipissing offered just that, and although far from home, won my choice for university destinations. In my third year (2012/13) I was ecstatic to be finally preparing for another big adventure; I would be spending my second semester of the year studying in South Africa.

Many asked me WHY I would choose to go to Africa when our school offered exchanges to other countries such as Germany, England or Australia. My response was the same every time… I wanted a challenge. I wanted to go somewhere that others maybe wouldn’t. I wanted to experience my education in a way so that I could come home and share with others. Doing a semester abroad was by far the most beneficial experience I have had and would encourage any student to look in to it.

After returning to Canada this past summer, I was offered a job with Nipissing working within the International Department. I now act at the International Student Mentorship Program Coordinator. In this role, I am able to meet incredible students from around the world who come to Nipissing to study and experience what we may take for granted. It has proven to be extremely self-rewarding.

Looking back on this, by simply asking questions, getting involved, working really REALLY hard and taking a huge leap of faith, I have fully embraced my opportunities and time spent at Nipissing as a Laker. Not to mention, working towards a check off the bucket list: 50 countries in 50 years…and I’m now 12 deep!

Alexandra McKeon
4th Year Junior/Intermediate Concurrent Education, Geography & French