Tony miyoshi and sam statchuk

Studying overseas with international scholarships

February 15, 2024
Author: Eric Zimmer

Tony Miyoshi and Sam Statchuk share their stories

For VIU students looking to expand their global horizons and study internationally while pursuing their undergraduate degree, there is a lot of funding available to help make this dream come true. VIU’s Education Abroad office is giving out more than $200,000 in scholarships and grants this year.

“We know from research conducted across Canada that the primary barrier for students to pursue international study experiences is the cost,” said Jennifer Sills, Education Abroad Manager. “Creating funding programs helps to remove the financial barriers associated with studying abroad and create more opportunities for students to pursue these rich learning experiences.”

In addition to scholarships given out by the Education Abroad office is the BC Scholarship Society Premier’s International Scholarship. Awarded to students who demonstrate outstanding academic performance and exemplary community service, VIU students earned three of the 23 scholarships given out to post-secondary students across the province this year. Here are two of their stories:

Spending a semester in Ireland

For Tony Miyoshi, getting to travel while still earning credits towards his degree is the ideal combination.

Tony is a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in History and minoring in Political Studies. He is spending the current semester in Ireland and studying at VIU partner institution University College Cork.

“I have always wanted to visit Ireland,” says Tony. “It also helps that I knew someone who had previously gone on exchange to Ireland and she enjoyed it, so I heard some positive feedback about the exchange there. I think what excites me the most about doing a semester in Ireland is the chance to experience a different type of schooling.”

Tony says his exchange so far has been positive.

“There were certainly some cultural things I needed to adjust to, such as the lack of tipping,” he says. “I wasn't used to the traffic being on the other side of the road so that was disorientating. It was slightly stressful, but now I am more familiar with the rules of the road here.”

Tony is taking three courses, including an archaeology course, which he chose “because it was worth double credit and it offered field trips to historic sites such as the Rock of Cashel.”

Archaeology is “an area of interest and I felt that being able to visit actual castles and historic sites was an opportunity that had to be taken,” he adds.

Studying in South Africa

Sam Statchuk graduated with her Bachelor of Tourism Management degree last summer while she was still abroad for her final work term.

She learned about the Premier’s Scholarship during her second year at VIU, when she was encouraged to apply for the Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) program.

“My eyes were opened to the amount of scholarships that are available to those who seek international travel,” she says. “While I was in the process of completing my QES program, I sought out all the scholarships I could find. The VIU Education Abroad office shared the Premier’s International Scholarship at that time.”

In Sam’s case, she received the scholarship retroactively. She went to South Africa last May through August.

South Africa wasn’t originally on her radar, but she decided it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I have always been interested in conservation and sustainability and when I was trying to decide on a country, South Africa kept popping up,” she says. 

During her international internship, she focused on honing her photography and videography skills and using these skills to develop images and video for NGOs and tourism organizations. She also learned about how tourism plays a role in contributing to local communities and participated in community events designed to help people learn about the importance of marine and land ecosystems.

She struggles to pick just one memorable moment because “the entire experience was incredible. The days on the game reserve taking photos and filming the wildlife made me feel like I had stepped into a David Attenborough documentary and I truly felt like I experienced once-in-a-lifetime things. There are so many things I could say about the experience as each day was unlike the last but that was the beauty of working and learning in wild settings.”

Two experiences stand out for her. The first one was during her last day in the reserve. "We had not seen the lioness and cubs since our very first evening when we finally spotted them in the distance," she recalls. "Once we got to them we were treated with one of the most incredible experiences - the lioness was beginning a hunt and the two cubs were waiting behind watching intently. While the hunt didn't end successfully it was still amazing to see the prowess of those animals and such a rare experience."

The second was when she was in Scottburgh doing underwater photography.

“We were diving on Aliwal Shoal and constantly in the presence of ragged tooth sharks, dolphins and humpback whales. There were moments when we were close enough to touch these animals – although we didn’t as any respectful diver wouldn’t – which was absolutely surreal.”

Sam is already planning her next trip back.

“Travel is one of the best forms of education. The opportunities are endless, you meet like-minded people who become life-long friends and you learn by your own experience rather than through the experiences of others," she says. "Do your due diligence but don’t be afraid to take chances. If your first option isn’t panning out, take a chance on another because it might lead to something better. You have no idea the impact or benefit an international experience will have on your academic, career or personal future until you do it.”

VIU students interested in learning more about the various funding opportunities to support academic studies, research, exchange, field schools, and internships abroad should contact VIU Education Abroad to discuss the funding, resources and services available.

Related Posts

Got an article idea for the blog? Email

Sign up for our blog