“Travel far enough you meet yourself” Cloud Atlas
Deciding to do exchange is scary but it will be one of the best decisions you make and I am going to prove it to you. So if you are considering please read the 8 reasons why everyone should do exchange.
1. You get to start anew
It is your chance to do things you never did before and be who you want to be. Fulfill those new years resolutions without criticism. No one knows you which makes it so much easier.
In Australia I am known to be a bit of a Tom boy and people already have a perception of who I am. So I enjoyed being able to be free to be me without people questioning or thinking it odd that I was wearing makeup or doing things differently.
2. You become independent and stronger
This is your chance to move out of home temporarily and experience being a proper adult. You can design your apartment how you wish and be in charge.
I lived at home before my exchange so never had to worry about rent and food. I was fully looked after but when it came to organising and experiencing my exchange I had to do everything myself. I organised my visa, flights, insurance and passport. Then on exchange I had to learn how to cook, to shop efficiently for food (Nuha helped a lot with that), pay bills, organise cooking utensils, money management and a lot more. I made many mistakes which included destroying some of my clothes but in the end I grew from the experience and realised adulting is not that easy.
3. Experience new things and a different culture
One of the reasons people love travelling is to experience a different culture and exchange is the perfect way to do this. You are involved in normal daily tasks of a student of your host country for a period of 6 to 12 months which plunges you deeply into the culture. It is exciting no matter where you are. You will also meet people from the country and they will have many views about life and your country. It maybe a shock to the system but I found it interesting learning how they think. My advice is to take advantage and ask lots of questions.
One of my experiences when introducing myself as an Australian was that many Europeans thought Australians were racist and could not believe we lived with the most deadliest animals. I also found that Austrians were more guarded and were shocked when i randomly gave a huge hello. In Australia this is normal as we openly say hello to anyone.
I am a big foodie as I am a Melbourner. So one of the coolest things for me is trying new cuisines. I not only like trying out the traditional food but looking at what is served at universal restaurants like McDonalds as well as this shows what is hot in the host country.
In Austria pork is their main dish. You go to the supermarket everything is pork and a small section is other meats. Their food was not for me. I am not a huge pork eater and their deserts all tasted weird (Marzipan =/). I did love their breads though, as sandwiches and bread is breakfast for a lot of Europeans. Even though I did not enjoy the food it was a good experience.
5. Making new friends & travel buddies
So many strong friendships are made on exchange and this is part of the reasons why countries support exchange and Erasmus. Creating these bonds help with countries understanding each other and shows that we are all not that different. This is one of the best reasons to do exchange as you not only learn about their countries but also find a travel buddy. As most Exchange and Erasmus students usually stay at dorms it is most likely your friends will be from a variety of countries but also they must love traveling.
On my trip I did day and weekend trips with my friends I met on Exchange. One was to Oktoberfest in Munich which was awesome. I went to Venice for another weekend with a friend and I did many others. I am still in touch with most of these friends and still see them when I visit Nuha.
Learning Vietnamese fruits Song
6. Learning (lernen) a language
Learning the language in your home country compared to learning in your host country is completely different. Firstly the universities usually offer you a course in the home countries language and secondly because you are surrounded by it. You go to the shop everything is in their language. You go to a restaurant everything is in your host language and the waiters and waitresses speak to you in that language. You are forced to learn what food is and important words like “halt” (stop).
I joined the German class offered which was A1, but the biggest classrooms for my German development was supermarket, restaurants and just by interacting with Austrians. I learnt colours from playing UNO with Austrians and learnt my favourite foods in German. I learnt schlag is whipped cream as Nuha loves whipped cream.
7. A chance at Love (hey hey)
Sounds corny but it is true, you have a chance at finding love. Woo hooo!!
There was a study done on the impacts of erasmus study abroad and it found a 3rd of Erasmus students had a partner from a different nationality. See the link below to the article. I do not know if it is because your more relaxed but it can happen.
Not only did I meet my gorgeous man of 3 years on exchange but I know of many more who have met their partners during the year I studied. One of my dear friends whom is Russian met her Austrian man while studying in Salzburg and is still with him after 2 years. My Australian friend has a gorgeous French girlfriend of 3 years and they are currently living together in France. My Greek friend has been dating an Italian guy for 2+ years and I am sure there are many more happy endings caused by the exchange program. So why not give it a crack..
EU’s Erasmus study abroad programme is ‘responsible for 1m babies’
8. Opens your mind (learn learn learn)
Exchange is just a huge learning experience. You learn about yourself, your limits and your strengths. You are more open to different ideas and cultures. You think differently and are more accepting.
After my exchange I was stronger and more open to other ideas. My thought processes had changed. I was more confident in myself as I had to depend on myself for a year and I thought I did a good job.
Overall exchange was the best experience. I grew so much as a person and experienced things I never would have experienced if I didn’t take the leap. So if you are thinking about doing exchange do it.
I have not covered all the reasons but hopefully it is enough to convince you to take the trip of a life time while you still can.
If you think I have missed important reasons or you have questions please comment below.
Thank you for reading and please be kind as this is only my second post.
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