How to Make the Most of Being an Exchange Student

Being an exchange student in a country with a totally different culture (and language) is an amazing and rewarding experience. Whether or not you enjoy the experience, and make the most out of it, is purely up to you and the amount of effort you put in. This article is directed at those who are going to a country where the local dialect is not their first language, however, if you are going to a country where you are already fluent, this article can still be useful for you.


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    Find out what you can about the place you are going. Start by researching the country, and then become more specific, looking briefly at the cities you are visiting, and the local customs. A great place to get all this information is on Wikipedia, but general googling will also suffice. You will appreciate everything in your experience more if you know what you are actually doing/seeing.
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    Earn spending money. Earn about twice as much as you think you will need. You don't want to need to worry about how much you spend (to a certain extent, that is).
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    Make contact with your billet family if you can (and if you are being billeted). Find out about their interests and what they think of their country. This will give you some great conversation starters, and you will find your experience with them much less stressful/awkward.
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    Pack properly. If you are too cold/warm when you are there your experience will be negatively effected. Check the general weather for the times you're over there.
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    Sleep at the right times if you are changing time zones. Jet lag can ruin a holiday.
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    Keep a diary and take photos when you are there. This will make your experience easier to remember, and this way, it is easier to explain the events to your friends.
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    Write down words you just learned if you are speaking a new language. This will increase your chance of remembering these words by about 300%.
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    Be social. Meet people! Make international friends! You will have a lot more friends this way.
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    Be brave. Have REAL experiences. You might never return, so don't wimp out of anything, or you might regret it for the rest of your life.
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    Buy souvenirs. Who doesn't love them? They don't have to be tacky fridge magnets; better ideas include T-Shirts, baseball caps, local music and artwork.
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    Don't feel compelled to call home. If you want to be alone, do it! It is YOUR vacation anyway. On the other hand, if you want to call home, don't hesitate. Lots of people love to hear from there loved ones to remind them of home.


  • Be accepting of the culture. Just because it's different, doesn't mean it's wrong.
  • Don't be hesitant to try out your language skills. This is the only way you will improve.
  • Try not to stand out too much. Feeling like a local is always fun.
  • Don't worry about how much money you are spending (but keep sensible).

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Categories: Surviving School | Studying Overseas