Studying abroad is the greatest invention since sliced bread. I saw this discussion on the front page, and thought that I could share some things that made my personal experience worthwhile:
- Don't hang around people from your own country whilst away.
It is hard, especially at the beginning of semester when you're all alone in a strange new place and you want some familiarity. But in my opinion this is the greatest sin to commit while on exchange!
- Really make the effort to immerse yourself in their culture and way of life.
Then you get to do and experience things that you would never do back home. I went on exchange in Finland, and some of my favourite memories include Ice-hole Swimming every week or two, and playing Ice Hockey about 3/4 times a week! You can't do that in Australia - and it's something I miss when its +40°C in the summer!
- Learn the language.
- Instead of travelling around extensively in nearby countries, make sure you travel within your host country
too. I regret missing the whole Finnish summer while travelling around Europe... though Europe was good too 😊
- Put the effort into making friends with the locals
, even if this means that you have to go to places and events by yourself to be meet them.
- Join local student groups/societies.
- Although Dan ("Hutcho") is right in that you shouldn't study too hard so you can have way more fun, I think the "study" aspect of exchange is good in some ways
. I was able to do really interesting units at my host University which are not taught at any university in my whole State. In an International Armed Conflicts course we discussed conflicts in Sudan, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor etc. Real eye-opening stuff. Made the UN Security Council seem rather incompetent...
- Lastly, operate on a policy of no regrets!
Whenever an opportunity or invitation comes your way, just take it no matter what.
At a young age, exchange is the best way to open your eyes to the world, and you'll make lifelong friends with so many cool and like-minded people from all over. Although I had travelled before, that chapter of my life really kick-started my passion for travelling. Many of my close friends have studied abroad (Hutcho, Joel, Michaelpaddo, Sashi, Myself
) and we always love exchanging our own stories and reminiscing about those good times.
Have fun! 😊