Hello lovelies! I am currently on exchange in Canada and it is by far one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and I am certain that it will be a landmark on memory lane. So, how does an exchange work? Well, you go to another country's institution for a pre-determined period of time to study, and somebody from that country goes to your home country to do the same - usually at your institution. But an exchange is so much more! Read on to find out why.
1. New People, New Friends
Being on an exchange program introduces you to numerous new faces. This includes people from the host country and exchange students from other countries. You develop so many new friendships and relationships, which are very unique and special because everyone is aware that the duration of the exchange is probably the only time they have together - so everyone is looking to make the most out of these rapports.
2. New Cultures
You get to learn about the host country's culture as well as about other cultures, depending on where your exchange buddies are from. It is extremely exciting and interesting to discuss different cultures because it broadens your perspective and increases your knowledge. Also, you would be surprised at the sort of similarities and differences you might come across between your culture and another!
3. Reflect on Your Own Culture
Discussing and learning about other cultures makes you think about your own culture - more often than not, we blindly practice our 'culture' without ever really knowing why. When people from different countries ask you questions about your culture, stereotypical things they've seen in movies or heard about, you need to answer appropriately, because in that moment, and for every moment of your exchange, you are an ambassador of your country. Plus, if you say you practice a certain culture, you should be aware of the reasons behind it and the methods for it.
4. Enriching Academic Experience
Studying in another country, with a completely different, more multicultural set of students, with greatly varying perspectives, makes for a very enriching academic experience. You get to face a different sort of competition and evaluate yourself differently. You also learn in different ways through the interactions you have.
The exchange is also largely about going around and exploring your host country. The period of an exchange program is usually long enough to allow to do cover the must-see aspects of that country. You get to truly experience the culture, and you have ample time to shop, go sightseeing, do adventurous things, travel, and be a tourist.
6. Personal Growth
Being on an exchange program forces you to grow up. For most students, it is the first time they stay away from home, away from their families. The experience causes you to function independently, manage yourself and your life well (especially finances, health and academics), make appropriate decisions, and become responsible. You are put out of your comfort zone and forced to handle the situation. Additionally, you are forced to spend time with yourself and it makes you reflect on a lot in your life and about yourself - and this really changes you.
7. Unique Experience
Being on exchange is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, which is extraordinary - it is not something you can participate in every day, or when you just feel like it. It is a very inspiring, illuminating and interesting experience - and it is unlikely that the experience could be duplicated.
So, these are just some of the things that I have picked up from my experience so far. I honestly urge you to participate in any exchange program that comes your way, because it will be life-changing and totally worth it!