1. You’re bored of uni.
You’ve spent two, three, four years in the same university; taking the same bus everyday, eating the same food, studying in the same classrooms. You’ve fallen into a rut; your life is an endless routine of uni, home, uni, home… It happens to everyone. So instead of signing yourself up for another semester of the same subjects and teachers, why not go on exchange? It’s a fantastically fun way to break up the monotony with new and exciting experiences, to study without feeling like you’re studying (let’s face it, since most exchange programs are graded on a pass/fail basis). So go for it!
2. You want to travel.
It’s always been your dream to travel the world, to check off your list of bucket-list countries. Now’s your chance – and you get to do it while gaining credit for a semester of study too! Two birds, one stone. Not only can you study in a country of your choice, but you can also use the breaks before, during and after your semester abroad to visit neighbouring cities and countries.
3. To spice up the resume.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough anymore just to get good grades from a reputable university. More and more, employers are looking for extracurriculars, internships, volunteer work; it’s more about your experience than your academics. Going on exchange shows that you’re not afraid to take risks, that you take initiative, you’re confident, a go-getter – and the fact that you came back unscathed shows that you’ve been able to manage your finances, academics and the culture shock at the same time.
4. To learn a language.
Instead of relying on textbooks and teachers to pick up a new language, why not throw yourself into the deep end by living in that country for a few months? Contrary to what a lot of people think this doesn’t mean you also have to learn your courses in that language; you should still look for courses that are taught in English (unless you’re fluent already) but you get to practice your language skills in real-life situations.
5. To experience a new culture.
Travelling to a country is very different from living there for an extended amount of time. Think of it like an iceberg; travelling to a country, staying at hotels and visiting all the landmarks is only the tip of the iceberg. Living in that environment, walking those streets and interacting with the people on a daily basis is the other 90% of the story. Every country or city has a different culture, and each has their pros and cons.
6. To meet new friends.
Studying abroad means that not only do you meet a lot of people native to that country, but most likely you’ll also befriend other exchange students like yourself from all parts of the world. Whether it be in the classroom, university events or clubs and societies, you will constantly be surrounded by students who are in the same age group as you, have similar interests and in the same situation. And who ever complained about having too many friends?
7. To do some independent living.
This one is particularly relevant if you live with your parents back home. Sure, it’s great to have someone cook, clean and help you out around the house, but living in a dormitory is basically a trial before you move out and live by yourself later on. Usually in a university dorm you’ll be living in your own room within a flat, and each 5 or 6 rooms shares a kitchen and common room. You get to try shopping, cooking and cleaning by yourself (but your flatmates are right there to help you out), and it’s actually very freeing to be in charge of every aspect of your home life.
8. To try different foods.
Mmm. It’s no secret that we all love food. Studying abroad lets you experience a completely different cuisine, but if you’re ever homesick for that native dish you can always cook it yourself. Even the little things like going to the supermarket and seeing (and sampling) all the different snacks they have are exciting.
9. Because it’s not as expensive as you think it is.
Usually, when you’re on an exchange program you actually pay the university fees of your home university, so no need to be scared of massive student loans and debts! If you get in early, plane tickets can be quite cheap (depending on where you’re going, etc), so the only really significant thing you have to pay for is your accommodation. Being smart and thrifty with your spending while overseas will also save you loads in the long term. Some universities will give you interest-free loans (see OS-HELP if you’re based at UNSW) and don’t forget to apply for scholarships (I got one without even doing anything more than ticking a box on my application form)!
10. To better yourself.
In the end, going on exchange is a fantastic chance to improve and build on your character. Not only do you get an immense sense of accomplishment, but it increases your confidence, independence, problem-solving and cultural knowledge (+ numerous others). You’ll also be a lot better prepared for life with experience in budgeting/finances, managing households and a plethora of new recipes under your sleeve.
Have I missed any reasons? Let me know by leaving a comment!