Name: Lucas Alexandre
Program: Bachelor of Applied Arts - Criminal Justice
Year of Study: 4th
My name is Lucas Alexandre and I am a fourth year student at Humber College studying in the Criminal Justice Degree Program. This past year I had the fantastic opportunity of being able to travel not once but twice through my program at Humber. In May of 2014 I travelled to Ghana, Africa for just over 3 weeks to complete a placement for my program. Also, in September of 2014 I travelled to Waterford, Ireland where I spent 4 months as an exchange student studying at Waterford Institute of Technology.
Upon starting my second year at Humber as is required by the program all students had to complete an 8 week placement in order to be eligible to graduate. During our placement orientation in September of that year, our program coordinator Gerry Small was discussing all of the opportunities we could pursue for our placement, and I remember him giving the group a brief description of an opportunity to travel abroad as a placement opportunity. That teaser was all I needed to convince me that whatever this mystery travelling placement opportunity was; it was what I wanted to do! Upon receiving more information on the nature of the placement and going through the preparation process for this opportunity I was head over heels excited for what was to come!
Oddly enough the opportunity to study in Waterford only ever materialized because of the orientation that occurred with the international office to prepare the students for our trip to Africa. So yes when it rains it pours with opportunities!
The reason why I took these opportunities to begin with were honestly because I’m not getting any younger and the responsibilities I have are only going to become more and more time consuming. I looked at the situation from the perspective that if I didn't take the opportunity when the timing could not be better than I would probably never do it at all!
I was fortunate that through the placement in Africa I met Akbar whom was another student in my program who was going on the trip as well. Up to that point we had never spoke…honestly probably never even made eye contact with each other, but this trip ended up helping us to become close friends and in the end even decide to study in Ireland together!
Highlights…well I guess I could type until my hands cramp up or the battery dies on my computer because there were no shortage of highlights! Due to the nature of the both opportunities and environments being so incredibly different, the highlights in both places were very contrasting in that they were brought upon in different ways and situations, but none-the-less they still evoked such similar emotions.
The community accepted us instantly and made us feel like we had been part of the community forever! Working with the community to help complete the construction of the library was a treat in itself in that we would work with the children and various members of the community to help take an empty building and allow it flourish!
Some days during our down time when we had all the children in the community hanging out with us, we would take them all to the middle of the community and would all play soccer together in the field. Between the fun we had playing with them, the fun the people who were watching us play were having and the very positive vibe that was present, it was better than anything that a Toronto FC game could ever create!
For a few days in the middle of our the stay in Ghana our group travelled around various places in the country and visited a few gorgeous historic sites, witnessed some beautiful scenery and truly received the opportunity to take in the whole experience we were enduring to its fullest!
A funny thing happened during our trip that made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable as well. By about day 3 of living together and spending our entire day with each other, you would have believed we had known each other for our entire lives by how close we had gotten! For example, one afternoon during some of our down time we decided to orchestrate a mock wedding between a few of the members of our group! (If you need any tips on how to have a great wedding and not spend $50,000, then I think I can help!) On our long drives while we travelled, our whole bus would rock out to some of the local music that was playing, and even one night during one of our stays at a hotel we had a dance off for the whole group and everyone who was staying at that hotel to enjoy!
Now Ireland gets to step up to the plate. Ireland provided me with a boatload of great memories and highlights as well. I was fortunate enough to travel throughout all of Ireland while I was there and I must say the country is absolutely beautiful and provides some of the best scenery both from a geographical and a historical sites perspective. The people I met while I was there were so receptive just like in Ghana. The made us feel like we had gone to the schools there and lived in the country our entire lives. Waterford Institute of Technology took good care of us throughout the whole semester and provided us with great professors and a very productive learning environment in order to succeed.
An interesting highlight, which occurred throughout the semester, was that with being gone for so long was that it really did help me to grow as a person. I began to truly learn how independent I am and that I didn’t require anyone to look over my shoulder and be there to clean up my mess or take care of me. For example, I have always been a foodie but while abroad I realized that I love to cook and that I actually was quite good at it! My personal growth over the four months I believe really did strengthen my abilities to enjoy the trip that much more!
While both trips were life changing opportunities and occurrences in my life that I will never forget, it was not smooth sailing the entire time. During both trips, I did have times where I became home sick and wished I could have a mini five minute break and just be back home with what I was used to and comfortable with. Also, watching my finances was another task that occasionally became taxing, as I had to ensure that I didn’t go out too hot too quickly and burn through all the money I had spent a lot of long hours working to save for this trip in the first place.
Ultimately though, looking at both trips from a general sense, I have to say that what it has done for me in terms of appreciating the growth as an individual and the sense of appreciation it has provided me for how fortunate I am to both have an opportunity such as I did to travel to such wonderful places were second to none. If I were to relive the past year, I would absolutely live it the exact same way!
Having opportunities to travel in the circumstances that I had, I believe will only benefit me in my future endeavours. Spending time this year receiving an opportunity to see new places in the world and learn new cultures only made me crave the opportunity to want to broaden my experiences with more diverse cultures as I carry on in my professional and personal life. A career which would involve travelling to different countries or working on a national or global perspective would absolutely be something that I would consider especially after the experiences I was able to enjoy this year.
For the future students of Humber who may be considering travelling abroad during their academic careers, I want to be an individual who they can turn to if they would like to discuss anything on their minds about an opportunity such as this, even if it is something that is extremely minor. I would like to do this because at the end of the day an opportunity such as this one is a massive deal and when it comes to making a decision, having supports to aid in that process will only make it all more enjoyable and significantly easier!
For anyone who is considering travelling abroad let me tell you this…these opportunities do not come knocking on your door everyday, and if you've taken the time to read through everything I’ve had to say then you are likely interested in an opportunity such as this one! If you are considering travelling abroad, TAKE IT because at the end of it all what you get out of it are experiences and memories that no other situation could fabricate for you! I really am not a big fan of the silly sayings that a lot of people use but for a once in a situation such as this, there is absolutely one silly saying that works perfectly to help you when deciding whether or not to take advantage of a travel abroad opportunity and that is YO-LO! You absolutely only live once, so if an opportunity like this finds its way into your life, it works for your situation, and you are interested in going, then go!
Now stop reading what I’m telling you and go start planning your trip and packing your suitcase!