Lief Garrett and Hyman Shu received more than academic enrichment during their exchange experience in Ireland, they learned lessons in living independently and adapting to a new environment.

The two were students in the Law Enforcement Studies Diploma (LESD) program at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). As recipients of the One World International Scholarship funded by the B.C. Scholarship Society, they both attended a semester at South East Technological University in Waterford, Ireland where they took courses in that institution’s criminal justice degree program.

Two male students stand on landing overlooking atrium at New Westminster campus.
Law Enforcement Studies Diploma students Lief Garrett and Hyman Shu says they learned to adapt to new environments while on an international exchange program to Waterford, Ireland.

But the life lessons they received were just as important as those in the classroom.

For Lief, he was the first in his family to ever travel outside Canada, so the entire experience was completely new to him, from getting used to cars driving on the other side of the road to figuring out how Irish currency works. During additional travels together to Lens, a small city in northern France, their interaction with locals took their adaptation skills to a whole new level.

Man wearing hoodie and ball cap poses with view of cliffs and ocean in Ireland.
LESD student Lief Garrett was the first in his family to travel outside Canada when he participated in an international exchange program in Ireland.

“They spoke little to no English, and I understood little to no French, so I had to learn to communicate with locals in a different way, for example, using Google Translate and hand signals,” Lief said.

Hyman agreed, saying, “Very few could have a conversation [in English] so we decided to use Google Translate and I used the French I learned in high school to get around, though it was quite difficult. One lesson I learned is to try and learn the language of the country before going. Just knowing basic things in a conversation or basic food items and numbers.”

Male student wearing ball cap poses against ruins of a castle in Ireland.
LESD student Hyman Shu says the experience of being outside his home environment, meeting people from around the world, will help him in his future work in diverse communities such as Vancouver.

This opportunity is what you make of it. Everyone will have a different experience, but it will challenge you. In the end, it is growth

Living away from home helped instill discipline with schoolwork and the increased interactions with people from around the world made him more open to classroom discussions, Hyman said.

Similarly, Lief said he became a better student overall as a result.

“Before going to Ireland, I would never use the library resources to help with studying, essay writing, or somewhere quiet to work on projects,” he said. “The friends I made in Ireland would go to the main campus library regularly, so I would go with them. By doing this, I realized I could start assignments relatively early and end up having time to hit the pub with friends or travel.”

Both Lief and Hyman aspire to become police officers one day and feel the experience of being outside their home environments, meeting people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and learning about other cultures, will help them in their future work in diverse communities such as Vancouver.

“You gain lifelong friends from other countries, making it easier for you to travel,” noted Hyman of the exchange experience. “I have made friends from Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and Australia. This opportunity is what you make of it. Everyone will have a different experience, but it will challenge you. In the end, it is growth.”

Two male students wearing hoodies and ball caps face away from the camera, looking at the view of cliffs and the ocean.
LESD students Hyman Shu and Lief Garrett believe their exchange and travel experience in Ireland and Europe will help make them better candidates as they pursue careers in policing.

For more information visit the Law Enforcement Studies programs page. Students in the LESD or Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies programs interested in more information about JIBC exchange opportunities are encouraged to contact their program representative.