Student Exchange Programmes are organized by universities all over the world to offer myriad educational and cultural experiences to students all over the world. These programmes are usually institutionalised by way of agreements entered into two or more educational institutions and enable students from one university to study for a brief period of time in another university. Usually, these programmes require students to travel abroad, attend classes like the regular students of the concerned university, and record their experiences. All in all, these programmes are perfect opportunities for students who wish to tread beyond the conventional educational boundaries and explore the vastness of the educational world with different people.
The nature of these programmes makes it clear that they are aimed at offering a holistic developmental environment for participating students. It is expected, and quite reasonably so, that students will gain valuable experiences. How to do this? There are a few ways that can make sure you can gain the most out of the programme.
- Be prepared for change
Whether it is a domestic or international student exchange programme, you will undergo a huge change. You will be in a different university which means new people, new teachers, new facilities, new rules and regulations, and new cultures and traditions. Every university comes with its own lingo and norms with which you will have to adapt during the programme. Making friends could be a task, especially when there are linguistic challenges. If you are going to a country where, say, English is not spoken, then consider buying a handbook of the local language and study it as much as you can. Use Google Translate where need be. In short, you must accept that you will have to tweak changes into your lifestyle.
- Be ready for anything
Every country comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is a package of a different culture, language, lifestyle, problems, and whatnot. What may be appropriate in your culture may be highly objectionable in theirs. Local law may be very different from yours, for example. This entire thing means one thing: you must plan your visit well in advance and make sure you have researched enough. Consider making budgets, and reading about local laws and regulations. Get guidebooks, find out every detail about the university you are going to be at, and whatnot. From emergency numbers to keeping extra pairs of undergarments, you should always be prepared for anything.
- Selection of the right university
Many students make the mistake of choosing whichever university for the exchange programme. The temptation to be in a particular foreign country often ends up with poor decisions resulting in the waste of resources and time. Before you apply for an exchange programme, read about the concerned university, its reputation, courses you are interested in, and overall atmosphere. For example, if you opt for a German university but the course you are interested in is not instructed in English, then your experiences would barely be educational because of the linguistic barriers. Similarly, those who want to explore universities with a strong athletic background should choose wisely. Therefore, it is advised that you read about the exchange programmes before applying for any.
- Socialise to Integrate
One of the fundamentals of smooth educational experience as an exchange student is socialisation. Remember that you are in a space you do not know much about. No matter how much research you might have done before coming there, you will never know the truth unless you experience it for real. Socialisation assists in integrating into the society and allows you to bridge the gap which exists between you and them. Access to information will become easier, and anything you do not understand or have a problem with can be dealt with more promptly. If you withdraw yourself from society, you will find it difficult to adjust—and frankly, this is opposite to the purpose of a student exchange programme.
- Do not think of it as a vacation
Yes, a part of you wants to be in a foreign land and enjoy its giveaways. But, never forget that your purpose is to educate yourself in a different environment and take back that knowledge to your university. As an exchange student, you are supposed to participate in learning programmes, contribute to the university you attend, and not spend away resources and time on things for which you are not there.