Study Abroad: A Remote Learning Experience

By: Margaret Bawtinheimer

Dozens of students, both INBOUND and OUTBOUND, have embraced the Sheridan international experience. While the current pandemic has constrained so much, it has also welcomed creative online solutions and unique in-person opportunities. This past Fall Semester two students from PSB’s Partner university FHNW School of Business (Olten, Switzerland) had the opportunity to bridge both remote learning and an in-person experience.

The following is an interview with our INBOUND Fall Swiss students. Their experience and reflections serve to remind us all of the incredible benefits of experiencing the world.

Why did you both decide to study at Sheridan?

Jessica: For me it was the location, I’ve never been to Canada, and I felt that it would be a great experience to combine travel and study. Sheridan was also highly rated by previous students, so we added it to our list of preferred schools. We were very happy when we were both assigned. 

Fabienne: There are also three mandatory courses in our third semester. We read from the other exchange students that Sheridan offers all the mandatory courses, this was quite important for us. 

Did you decide together that you were going to study in Canada, or did it just happen that way? 

Fabienne: We had a list of 10 universities, and I chose pretty much completely different things because I was interested in Asia, the Netherlands and Canada. 

Jessica: I looked at European schools, but also added Canada to the top of my list.  Then we were assigned to go to Sheridan together, and since we were friends, it just worked out.

You were planning on coming to Canada, then found out you would have to study remotely. What was it like having your academic plans disrupted by the pandemic? 

Fabienne: We were assigned to Sheridan in March 2021, and we were both like “Oh my gosh, Canada, it’s going to happen”. About a month later we received a message that classes would be delivered remotely. It was disappointing because we never studied in person, having already completed two semesters online. 

Jessica: In the end, I don’t think I would have wanted to do it differently though, because we’ve seen so much and we’ve experienced so much.

Can you share a little more about your journey to Canada?

Fabienne: When we found out we would have remote courses, we decided to travel somewhere besides Switzerland, anywhere around the world. With the possibility of studying online, you have the flexibility to go anywhere.

At first, in Canada, the borders were still closed, and we thought “Okay, let’s go somewhere else.” When they announced in September that the borders were going to be opening, it was clear to us that “anywhere around the world” was going to be Canada.

Jessica: We studied the first two weeks of our courses from home because the borders were still closed and then we started planning. From Zurich, Swiss [air] goes to Montreal, we stayed there for the first month before travelling to Ontario.

How much did you know about Canada before you arrived?

Fabienne: I would say not that much, probably that Canada is bilingual, French and English, and we knew the major capital city. Also, the climate is like Switzerland, with all the four seasons. We also heard that Canada has beautiful nature and mountains, and you’re good at ice hockey.

What surprised you about Canada once you arrived here?

Jessica: Public transportation, when we compare it with other countries, we couldn’t get anywhere without a car. Then we arrived in Oakville and there was an entire public transportation system available to find our way around. We were also surprised by all the sidewalks, we do a lot of walking, and we could walk almost everywhere.  

Also, the size of Canada, I knew it was large, but once we were here, we took a train for almost four hours and we were still in Canada. If we did that in Switzerland, we would have been in Germany or Italy by that time. 

Fabienne: Experiencing how multicultural Canada is. We interacted with so many different people and experienced so many different cultures.

Jessica & Fabienne: We also didn’t expect the cheese curds in poutine to be so squeaky. 

What are some highlights from your time here in Canada and at Sheridan?

The people:

Fabienne: The people who took great care of us at Sheridan. Everyone we were in touch with was so nice, friendly, and helpful. You are just great people and I think that’s what we’ll remember. 

Jessica: That we made it here! It seemed so unrealistic and because we couldn’t plan, we never expected that it would be possible to come here. Then you organized for us to go on campus for an in-person class, that was like, crazy.

Travel:

Jessica: There was the opportunity to travel and study. 

Fabienne: When we were in Banff, we had an online lecture in the morning, then had the opportunity in the afternoon to travel. It’s just so beautiful, when we picture Canada, we picture Banff. 

Jessica & Fabienne: We knew the learning experience would be different in Canada. The flipped classroom, which we never experienced before, created a very heavy workload. There were a lot of assignments and quizzes too, we are used to just having exams. The learning experience will be a key takeaway to bring home and compare the two study modes. 

Cooking in Residence:

Jessica & Fabienne: Cooking at the residence was an experience. The kitchen was one floor below us and we had to prepare our food in the apartment. Then we had to take everything, food, and cooking equipment, to the kitchen. When we finished cooking, we would go back to our apartment with our meal. The people in security always commented “what are they cooking today?”

What are your plans for when you go back to Switzerland?

Jessica: Planning is very difficult during these times, but I do know that I want to finish my studies in Switzerland. Then hopefully find a job in something that I enjoy doing. I don’t know where that is or what that will be, but I hope to figure that out. In our fifth and sixth semester we decide on our specialty, which will kind of decide what track we will be doing. 

Fabienne: I just started my studies, and before that I was a flight attendant. I plan on finishing my studies, and then hopefully go back to that, because I really enjoy working as a flight attendant, especially while I am young and don’t really have anywhere to be. 


PSB continues, in these most challenging of times, its active collaboration with Partner Universities in Europe. The Mobility Program (Student Exchange) has Partners in Spain, Switzerland and The Netherlands. PSB continues to promote student learning experiences both physically (in-person) and through remote collaboration (COIL). The key driver of PSB’s internationalization efforts is to provide as many cross-cultural experiences for our many BBA students as is possible. Taking Canada/PSB abroad and bringing the world to Canada/PSB captures our mantra.

In our current Winter 2022 semester, we welcome three students from our Partner university, SAXION in The Netherlands (Enschede). BBA students interested in Study Abroad should connect with Professor Stan Kamzol (stan.kamzol@sheridancollege.ca) PSB’s Exchange and Partner Coordinator for further information of learning experiences abroad in 2022 and 2023.


Margaret Bawtinheimer is a Program Support Specialist within the Pilon School of Business

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