Alumni Spotlight: Brodie Blaize

Brodie traveled with MEI Academy on their 80-day Spring Semester Program in 2011, before pursuing an undergraduate in business at the DeGroote School of Business, at McMaster University.

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Why did you choose this program?

MEI's Spring Semester Program fit with my three main deciding factors/questions -- Where do I want to go? What courses do I want to take? Is the company reputable?

Having traveled only within North America before, I wanted to experience all of the Western European countries within this trip's itinerary. Next, I needed to plan which courses were necessary for university and thought that obtaining four university prerequisite courses by the end of my grade 11 year would alleviate my grade 12 year.

Finally, speaking with my guidance counselor, she recommended I travel with MEI Academy over others, as their program had a great reputation and the credits were regarded highly by the university administrators she was in contact with.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Everything was taken care of for me. All flights and accommodation were organized, we had a pre-departure meeting prior the program, we were given access to a login that had academics and all the program details like hotels, flights, and packing list.

Our teachers were fantastic and they helped us with our online academics before the program, and they were also great at giving us travel tips prior to leaving.

For students going to university, there was a guidance counselor available to help them apply to university in Canada, the US or abroad.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My advice for anyone going on this program is to hit the ground running! Take in as much as you can, it will go FAST!

80-days drags on in the real world, but with MEI Academy your days will be so fast and so full you will be telling stories about your adventure for the rest of your life!

I tell my friends to do your research before choosing a program. I know people who have been on other programs and they didn't have the same positive experience I did.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The morning starts with a workout. We are up and getting ready for a big day - you also make space for a big breakfast! Next, you are on site -- the Colosseum, the Eiffel tower, or any other landmark where you can imagine the best lecture taking place.

With a break for lunch, some downtime for working on assignments, catching up on readings, and a final lecture before dinner you will go to bed exhausted, but ready to start fresh and start again.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

One of my biggest fears was making friends with other students I was traveling with but didn't know yet. 80-days is a long time, and I admit I was a bit anxious to meet everyone. Honestly, when the trip started, we moved so fast that I didn't worry about this.

Everyone is in the same situation as you, and as soon as you are on the plane and on your way to Paris, we all became not only friends, but BEST friends in your first few days. I heard other MEI alumni say this and I was a skeptic -- but it's true!

Where was your favorite destination?

While Tuscany was beautiful, Santorini shocked me! I am a food fanatic, and gyros at every street corner is one thing we North Americans need to experience and adopt!

Not only was Santorini beautiful, but it was one of the last destinations, so we were all so comfortable with one another and we were holding on to our last weeks together.

By that point, we all realized how lucky were had been to experience a semester like this with the people who we would be our life-long friends.