Hot air balloons over Turkey

Exchange perks you might not expect

Life lessons and experiences that aren’t part of the course guide
There are plenty of reasons to have a global experience – see the world, learn a language and make new friends – but what about the less-tangible rewards? Past exchange students share the perks they didn’t even consider before leaving.

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You’ll become independent, fast

“Exchange has changed me significantly as a person, as I have become increasingly more independent and unafraid to be myself and enjoy things I love.” 

Lucy Peck, University of Edinburgh - Scotland

Living and travelling alone is incredibly freeing – the responsibility to do all the things without your hand being held might be a little overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly relish your newfound freedom. You’ll be totally responsible for taking care of yourself, sorting your finances, cooking your own food and deciding how to use your time.

Person on a lookout in Bergen Norway

You’ll gain otherworldly perspectives

“Often we see things as either normal or wrong, but being in a country with so many different ideas and ways of doing things really changed how I looked at other cultures.”

– Kate Richardson, University of Indonesia - Indonesia

As ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ as it sounds, studying abroad puts the world into perspective. Adapting to life in a new culture is eye-opening. It’s not just about learning customs and trying new foods – you’ll become far more conscious of your own culture and see the world with a unique perspective.

You’ll develop confidence

“I learnt a different type of independence and became a lot more confident and spontaneous. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and said yes to as many opportunities as I could.”

Anna McDougall, University of Washington - USA

Not only will you become familiar with a new part of the world, you’ll also get to know yourself a lot better too. You’ll grow as a person and become more self-aware and confident in yourself and in the enviornments around you.

Person on a train in Goa, India

You’ll learn to appreciate

“My experience abroad has made me realise how fantastic living in Australia is, as many countries do not enjoy our quality of life, but it also has made me much more culturally aware.”

– James Ryan, University of Surrey - England

As much as you’ll be wrapped up in the thrill of the exchange life, you’ll also find a new level of appreciation for everything you have back home. You’ll be able to see the world and make new connections, while appreciating all of the wonderful things you begin to miss but return to.

You’ll boost your communication skills

“My language skills have improved greatly, and I am much more comfortable in day-to-day conversations.”

Natalie Kutcher, University of La Rochelle - France

Once you’re immersed in another place, you quickly learn to communicate (and often miscommunicate) across cultures. Even if you’re studying somewhere that speaks your native tongue, you’ll be amazed to observe the vastly different ways people communicate. Before you know it, you’ll be confident enough to drop the phrase book and achieve everyday tasks like finding your way to class or getting a haircut, as well as socialising and making new friends.

On the streets of Kyoto, Japan

You’ll learn about learning

“Getting to study subjects that I never would have otherwise been able to study was amazing. I was constantly being challenged intellectually and introduced to new ideas and perspectives.”

– Carol Zhou-Zheng, University of Wisconsin-Madison - USA

Studying in a different country means you’ll be exposed to a completely different education system and cultures. The content will be new as will the way it’s delivered – you might encounter smaller classes, unusual assessments or quirky lecturers.

You’ll prove yourself wrong

“I truly learnt to put myself out there… because exchange provides a new and sometimes daunting environment, it really forced me to go out of my comfort zone and I was able to make some amazing friends and have some amazing experiences.”

Lucy Peck, University of Edinburgh - Scotland

You hear it time and time again; step outside your comfort zone and you’ll have a rewarding experience. It’s much easier said than done when you’re at home, but not when you’re studying overseas. It’s an adventure that is unparalleled – choosing a destination, leaving on a plane, making a foreign city your home, meeting new people and trying things you’d never have imagined.

View of Paris, France

Updated 14 March 2022

9 April 2018

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