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  • Writer's pictureAnna Sophie

Is going for a student exchange worth it and how to prep for it?

My story I have studied in five different Universities across the World during my 5 years of studies (3 years of undergrad + 2 years of Masters). I started with my Bachelor degree in my home country and after a year I started learning about possibilities of going abroad to study on exchange programs. First one was close to home as I went for Erasmus exchange in Europe. Second one was a bit further as I ended up choosing Australia and moving there for a year. After graduating I applied for my Masters, where after a year I went for one more exchange, this time to the United States. How to prepare? My key call outs: - Start a year before – yes, it takes time to apply and usually they close applications even a year before starting the exchange. If you are in your Masters, you better start in the 1st year. - Be ambitious: try to get to the best school on your list (check their positions in Ranking, example here) as you will benefit the most of it and challenge yourself. Don’t worry, even at the Ivy Leagues universities you will still experience partying and networking – it’s all about balance! - Think broadly: what else can I get from this experience? Studying is one, but what else? Can I get an internship program up there (this can be coordinated by your new university)? Can I travel around during breaks and get to know a new culture? Can I get a part-time job on campus or help with academic research on the subject I am interested in? Plenty of things to consider, not necessarily to act on them before you go, but worth having eyes open for any opportunities. - Study new things: At times going for exchange can give you more variety of subjects to study. For example, I was in major of Business but going on exchange I chose subjects that were more in Arts sector, meaning I studied more about public policy and politics that were not “core” at my Uni but still relevant and I really enjoyed them. This really enriches your experience. - Sort out your finances: will you need a scholarship/aid? Always worth applying for them. When going on exchange you most likely won’t be paying for tuition fee abroad (only at your own Uni, which in some countries is for free) but there are travel tickets, accommodation, living expenses to pay. Depending on your visa, you might be allowed to work (i.e. 20h a week), which helps out. Consider working on campus to limit your travel time. What I loved to do was going for paid research experiments where I was participating on different studies for some extra cash. I.e. I filled a personality questionnaire and performed a simple task for 30 min and got $20-30 for it. Why is worth going for exchange? It is an adventure, great learning experience and an investment in your future. Especially if you go to the best schools, you will learn so much and it will look great in your CV. And you never know what might happen, I ended up going for Ivy League’s MBA for half a year as an exchange without paying anything as my home tuition fee was $0! Or on the exchange in Australia I have met my soon-to-be husband. And of course you will have a great time meeting new people, learning about a new country and have some epic parties. Be entrepreneurial and maximise your University opportunities, it passes fast so don’t waste this precious time as later on those are rare to find. Good luck!

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