calling all curent and former exchange students...
what are the 10 comandments, the basic rules and principals neccesary to being an exchange student
in 1 month time i leave to live in argentina, minimal spanish and hopefully a hella lot of advice from anyone whose been in a similar situation
feel free to cover everything and anything, cause hopefully my upcoming experiences will....
When I was an exchange student, I found that my smile got me furthar than anything else. I didn't have to learn a new language altogether, just a different dialect of English (I went from Canada to New Zealand). From what I've heard though, the first three months learning a new language are the hardest and most exhausting. Don't give up. Keep a journal, never turn down an opportunity to see or try something new.
I am an exchange student right now living in Hungary, and the one thing that I have learned is no matter what you expect this year to hold for you, it will be different. All of your expectations and preconcieved notions of what your exchange will be like will be so far from what it is really like. Doubtless you will have the time of your life, just understand that the first three months will be tough. But that is only a quarter of your exchange then after that you will want time to stop. I came across on this quote a while back, and everything it says holds true for an exchange student:
A traveler must have the back of an ass to bear all,
a tongue like the tail of a dog to flatter all,
the mouth of a hog to eat what is set before him,
the ear of a merchant to hear all and say nothing.
Remember that this year will be everything you make it to be.
jess i've read some of your blog, hope the remainder is awsome (in the true sense of the word)
thanks for your advice, its invaluable. its like telling your self that completing a marathon is going to be hard, you know that its tricky, you don't know how much its gunna hurt, or how god damm good it feels to cross the finish line i guess
also, don't you love the hungarian name for kiss, pussy (if that's how its spelt)
my dear friend nearly died when visiting her relatives and her aunt told her to give her grandfather some pussy...
oh what a beautiful world
Going on exchange has been the best decision of my life, I am currently in Montreal, Canada with a few months left to go. Good on ya for getting up the courage to do it.
I think the most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind and never pass up an opportunity when something comes up. Just think, am I gonna regret not doing this or that at the end of my exchange. Plus the craziest adventures happen on the spur of the moment and make the best stories.
Get a decent camera and take loads of photos.
Don't work to hard at uni!
Travel, experience and see as much as you can, try not to be too stingy and enjoy yourself.
I never really missed home too much but I found that I missed my friends and family a little bit after the first crazy few months when everthing had calmed down a bit, so take some photos to remind you of home, but not too many. Fill your walls with new photos from new camera.
Once you get some decent friends things will only get better from the uncertainty you will feel at the beginning.
And the old travelling adage, you really only need half the clothes and twice the money.
Can't really think of anything else at the moment, but trust me you will have the time of your life.
WOOO YEAH EXCHANGE ROCKS!!!!!!
Also join an air miles program
Here are a few: (not 10)
1: Learn the local language
2: Get away from the cities at the weekends
3: Make local friends
4: Accept peoples genuine kindness - I think you'll know the difference!
5: Talk to people on buses, trains, in the streets.
6: Eat local food - but don't drink the tap water 😉
> And the old travelling adage, you really only need half the clothes and twice the money.
Always true... probably even when not travelling.
> don't you love the hungarian name for kiss, pussy (if that's how its spelt)
Hehe 😉 Puszi - 'sz' in hungarian is pronounced 's' - plain 's' is 'shh'
I agree absolutely with Ali's list.
If my experience of living in a Soviet apartment block with an old Russian lady has taught me anything - apart from a distrust of pancakes and cats - it's to be as brave as you can. The more effort you put in to your trip in terms of socialising with people the more you'll get out of it; not just in terms of language, but in being invited to new places. If you feel shaky with a new language, then keep in mind that you'll never see the people on the bus again!
I'm 54......sold everything.........will leave UK in 4 weeks............and hope to make it travelling, until the pensions kick in. Anything is possible, as the Nike ad says 'Just do it'. Have a great time. John
this expecting the unexpected is killing me though, does one go over with a no expectations, thus attempt to avoid thinking about it, or with expectations which one expects shall be shattered
i'm revved up to eat the argentine version of black sausage (big stuff for someone who is normally vegetarian), though more excited about dulche de leche, and the ice cream
i guess that you have to create opportunities from windows, in order to have "the experience of your life"
like flying it all seems well in theory, but one feels a little shaky with anticipation since how can something weighting a couple of tons fly, but someone it does (and hopefully in the future there shall be a far less cliche version)
I would emphasise the importance of meeting locals - I did an exchange to the UK a few years ago, and most of the other exchange students only spent time with other exchange students. While that's a really fun part of the experience as well (I learnt how to cook a mean Israeli hot salad) I worked really hard to meet and befriend the local students. It's not always easy - they might have their own friends already - but it's really worth it in the long run (especially if you're in a significantly different culture!).
I also found when I was in France doing a French course that one way to get over my nerves speaking the language was to have a few drinks at a local pub - it relaxes you so you try more, and the locals have had a few too so they don't mind so much! Plus, it's one of those social situations where you can get away with not being formally introduced!
I'm sure you'll have the time of your life - I look back on my exchange as the best six months of my life!
might have a problem with the drinking idea though, as if i get caught i get put on the plane, maybe...
I'm on exchange right now in Strasbourg, and have only been here one month so not exactly words of wisdom from me! But, if I was to offer any advice, advice that I'm trying to take myself right now, is to do things that scare you. It doesn't have to be jumping out of an aeroplane or anything like that, but just something that puts you out of your comfort zone so that when you look back you know you achieved something.
Have fun! :-)
Hi Sally! You will be challenged in unimaginable ways, but capitalize on all opportunities presented to you. Try not to have too many expectations, as many of them will be blown out of the water anyway! As for advice: set out what you want to take, now put half of it back, now pack half of that; take what you WANT to have with you because anything you NEED is probably available to you...you might just have to look a little harder for it than you do at home. Best of luck to you...looking forward to reading about your experiences! ~Dee
Hey Sally! So I hope you are SUPER pumped about exchange! Right now I'm in Mexico, and have been for 6 1/2 months (only 4 more *giant sad face). Are you going with Rotary or what? I would recommend * looking up Lonely Planet books for spanish, I bought one of Mexican Spanish, and it was definatly invaluable for the first month when my spanish was less then so-so. * PLEASE listen to what everyone has said about not packing so much, because OH MY GOODNESS I packed way too much (I am sending it back with my parents when they come to visit). * Get the chewable pepto bismol, * pencil cases are great for packing all the little things and medicines * ask your local governments/stores/tourism offices for pins.... and then there's just the exchange stuff, not general travel: ... *smile as much as you possibly can *accept invations to go out even if you feel like sitting in bed watching tv, you can do that when you get home *learn how to speak in the polite forms of the language for the adults (como esta senor? instead of como estas. --- they will be impressed and it's more respectful) .... and wow, going on and on. haha I'll stop now, but let me know if you want to talk about anything. Mexico's not quite as south american as Argentina, but if I can help I will! 😊 GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING!!! rock on girl!
Except don't forget your dancing shoes! One of my girlfriends here on French exchange let someone convince her that 'going out' shoes take up too much space - but trust me, you'll be going out! It's an exchange year so it's not like you're trekking Everest, you do need those things you'd need at home, just not as many! :-)
i too am going to be an exchange student and am stuck on gifts! I want something typical of Australia ( where i come from) but thats not tacky- any ideas?
Be open and smile - never refuse an invitation no matter how tired you are! As everyone else has said, the first 3 months are tough. But after that you'll pick up the language and get used to life where you are. It took me a good 3 months to be (nearly) fluent. Try not to have too many expectations, and the expectations that you do have; let them be influenced by your own experiences as time goes by.
Good luck, and you're going to have such an amazing time.
J* ust Jade - go the tacky koalas and kangaroos... that's what your country is famous for overseas and people love it! Take a small jar / tube of vegemite; a great way to break the ice because most people have heard of it, but never tried it...depending on where you going of course.
I'm speaking for the other half of the exchange, the host family you will be living with. We hosted high school students in Calfornia for 7 years and were the local program directors as well. Words of wisdom and experience:
Don't open anything new.
Don't take the last one of anything.
Don't hide in your room.
Make your host family your real family, one of my most treasured memories is of our Swedish student, Kristina, coming up behind me one morning as I was making breakfast and giving me a hug and kiss.
We also received many gifts over the years. Simple and cheap is best. A calendar (our Ukrainian calendar on the wall was good conversation piece), a book on your home area, share your holiday customs with your host family, bring something that might be very common where you are from but uncommon in your new home, etc.
I hope this helps.
thanks so much for your words of wisdom! I am going into a family in california and was so worried about what not to do!
Thanks heaps! Sounds like you've had a wonderful time hosting- i cannot wait!