Why do an Exchange? 5 Reasons
Why go on exchange? It’s the question that I asked myself many times before leaving for The Netherlands this spring.
Why travel halfway across the planet without knowing the language, the culture, or anyone else over there? While an exciting experience, it’s also extremely scary and daunting at the same time.
However, if you are well-prepared and resilient, it can be one of the best experiences of your university career. I present to you my top 5 reasons for doing an exchange while studying at UVic, as follows:
1. Make lifelong friends
Although it is very scary to move so far away without knowing anyone, especially as an introvert like me, being an international student can actually set you up to meet some really interesting people who may become your new best friends!
During first few weeks of your exchange it can be a bit exhausting trying to find “your people” but soon enough you will get to know other students and make friends.
Remember all the other international students are in the same boat as you, so everyone is very friendly and open.
2. Experience a new culture and perhaps a new language
It can be a shocking but rewarding thing to experience fully living in a culture different to your own, or where you don’t speak the language.
I’ve come to really appreciate some things about Canadian culture at home by being somewhere new, but also I have come to love many parts of Dutch society as well: the biking everywhere, extreme punctuality, directness in conversation, etc.
Forcing you out of your comfort zone gives you a new perspective and appreciation for the little things that make up a place and a lifestyle.
3. Experience being a university student from a new perspective
Having only studied at UVic in my post-secondary academic career, it has been so, so refreshing to have the opportunity to study somewhere new!
I have been able to stretch my abilities by doing assignments that I haven’t been exposed to at UVic, such as role-play games or lots of different kinds of group work.
These have helped me develop new skills, meet Dutch and international students and learn from their academic experiences, and connect with new professors from all over the world.
4. Travel opportunities!
Studying abroad somewhere new gives you the incredible opportunity to see a new place, get to know it well, and also travel to other nearby places.
Since I’m studying in highly connected Europe, it’s very easy to take a weekend trip to another country or travel during Spring Break. I love that being somewhere for 5 or 6 months gives you lots of chances to really in-depth experience a lot of places without feeling rushed.
5. Gaining independence, resilience, and other useful skills
Studying abroad for an extended period of time undeniably teaches you many life skills and contributes greatly to your self development.
Being on your own in a sense and having to navigate a new place, culture, language, people, school, etc. and all the surprises along the way can be very challenging and at times lonely. However, upon coming home, you will have learned a lot about yourself and be incredibly stronger, more independent and resilient, and wiser for it.
Thank you and best of luck, Sam introvert ;).