Study Abroad Student Profiles

Image of student touching the top of the Eiffel tower

Carina Sue-Chu

University of Guelph degree: Food Science and French Studies

Study Abroad Programs: OJS Summer Research and Food and Culture Programs, Jiangnan University, China; ORA Exchange Program, Universite Stendhal (Grenoble 3), France

The Greatest Rewards Come from Stepping Outside your Comfort Zone

Carina Sue-Chu is a study abroad all-star, having participated in three study abroad programs during her five years at the University of Guelph.  Carina is graduating this June with a major in Food Science and a minor in French Studies, and feels that these international experiences have been the highlight of her degree program. 

In China, Carina worked with a research team in a food enzyme chemistry lab, took Mandarin language classes, and was able to learn more about her Chinese heritage and make new friends from around the world. “The main thing that I learned from China is that anything is possible in life,” says Carina. “Making friends from different parts of the world was incredibly eye-opening.”

photo of student posing at host university sign

In France, Carina expanded her definition of learning outside of academics by trying out new everyday activities like going to the nearby bakeries and food markets, hiking & biking around town and making friends with French locals who worked and lived in the area. She says her French skills improved tremendously from being completely immersed in the language.

“It was the first time where I was completely independent,” says Carina. “I was just happy to do ‘normal’ activities and live the French lifestyle – going to school, taking care of myself, managing finances on my own, and most of all, spending time with my French friends.”

Although, as Carina points out, “not every day is rosy” on an international study program, she says that overall it was an incredible life experience, and that her low points led to some of the biggest highlights of her time abroad. “Every day and every activity is an adventure when you have a limited time to live in a particular country”, says Carina.  She is still in contact with many of the many of the friends she made in France, which included the cleaning lady in her residence building and a couple of nuns who helped her find her way home when she was lost! 

After studying abroad, Carina says she is more open-minded and willing to step outside her comfort zone to experience new things, even if she is afraid of them. Her next big adventure is returning to France next year to work as an English Language Teaching Assistant for seven months, through the French Ministry of Education Program CIEP.

Does Carina’s story appeal to you? You could also participate in a study abroad program and experience some of the incredible rewards that she did!