Linguistics student gains global perspective through exchange program
Most of us tend to look up to our older siblings as role models, and the same can be said for Sophia Theodorakis. Her older brother had a big influence on her—he steered her path toward linguistics after suggesting she take an introductory linguistics course during her first semester at Simon Fraser University (SFU). So when her brother went on an academic exchange to Paris, Theodorakis was inspired to follow in his footsteps.
A third year student majoring in linguistics, Theodorakis wanted to travel without taking a break from her studies, and an academic exchange presented her with the perfect opportunity.
She also wanted to challenge herself to go beyond her comfort zone, and make new connections outside of SFU. And what better place to do that than somewhere halfway across the world?
This past March, Theodorakis hopped on a plane to Melbourne, Australia where she spent the next four months studying at Monash University. It was in stark contrast to what she was familiar with but once she found her bearings, Theodorakis made sure to make every second count.
"It was an amazing experience overall," says Theodorakis. "I met some of my greatest friends in Melbourne which made it incredibly hard to leave them behind. I loved that the exchange gave me the opportunity to travel, which I took full advantage of."
Between classes and assignments, Theodorakis squeezed in time to travel with her new friends to other places in Australia as well as neighbouring countries like New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Philippines.
The exchange program provided Theodorakis a new perspective on her education and personal development, and on the importance of going outside your comfort zone.
"I think it’s so important for people to experience living in new places," says Theodorakis. "You get to really know the culture of that place, and make so many connections that could be beneficial to you in the future."
Since her return to Canada, Theodorakis has been an ardent supporter of the exchange program, and hopes other students will consider studying abroad as part of their SFU degree.
"Save up, live in residence, and make the most of the time you have there," says Theodorakis. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so do everything you can."