Why YOU Should Go on Exchange

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Sorry for the lack of posts everyone! I spent the first two weeks of January writing papers for my classes in England and spent last week catching up on my UBC courses. I plan to continue writing on this blog despite not being on exchange anymore. Since I’ve caught the travel bug and can’t travel extensively due to school and work commitments, I’m thinking of going on mini day trips to pretend to be a tourist in my own city! I often neglect the amazing tourist sights and hidden gems Vancouver has to offer since I live here. But after travelling around Europe, I realized that I haven’t seen a lot of the Lower Mainland. So my New Year’s resolution is to make time to explore B.C. and fully experience the Vancouver culture. That is doable, don’t you think?

As you can see from the title, today I will be talking about why YOU should go on exchange. I know UBC’s Go Global exchange deadline was last Friday, but I think people who are thinking of going on exchange during the summer or next year will benefit from this post. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start, I’m sure you have an impression of how worthwhile going on exchange is. Let me fine tune some details that I hope will encourage you to go on a foreign exchange!

1) You get to travel to new countries
If you are participating in the Go Global program, the grades you receive from your study abroad classes do not affect your GPA. You simply have to pass your classes to get credit (but do note that your letter grade will show on your official transcript). With this in mind, you can travel to different areas around your exchange country without having to worry excessively about your grades. If you play your time management cards right, you can enjoy your travel experiences to different cities while keeping up with school work. One of the big advantages of travelling while on exchange is that you will always have a home base to return to. After travelling for a few days and hopping around to different hostels, the exhaustion from travelling hit me hard. Knowing that I have a home waiting for me at the end of the trip made me appreciate how important it is for people to have a permanent place to stay. Being a nomad can take a negative emotional toll on yourself, so going on exchange relieves you from this stress of having many temporary homes.

2) You will learn more about yourself than formal schooling can teach you
It sounds extremely cliche, but it’s true that going on exchange will change you. Some people will will experience change more drastically than others, but I assure you, if you put yourself into uncomfortable and challenging situations and overcome it, you will see self-growth. You will learn how to live alone in a new country, how to interact with roommates and people of a different culture, and how other countries operate differently than your home country. You will learn practical skills that you can take with you into the future and find your strengths and weaknesses. You will learn that doing things that scare you can be highly rewarding, and that you’re capable of a lot of things that you could only discover by doing. If you want to continuously learn academically, socially and personally, going on exchange is the perfect balance between familiarity (ie. Going to school) and new experiences.

3) You will build long-lasting friendships and peer networks all around the world
As long as you don’t hibernate in your room and choose to actively throw yourself into social environments instead, you will gain a great network of friends from different parts of the world. You will meet people from different cultural backgrounds and learn from their different perspectives. You will share lots of laughs and confused faces when your friends say or act in ways that aren’t “normal” for you. Whenever my Australian friend would incorporate her Aussie slang into her speech, I would give her a weird look and we would both laugh at how different Australia and Canada is. I assure you that you WILL make friends on exchange!

4) You will either realize how amazing your home country is (or not)
Living in England made me appreciate living in Vancouver a lot more. Don’t get me wrong – living in England was great and I would live there if an opportunity arises again. But there are some aspects about Vancouver that I absolutely love. I love the mild weather (the rain doesn’t bother me), the scenic views, the access to any ethnic food within drivable distance, and the honesty Canadians are known for. Little things that I took for granted added up to a larger appreciation for the Vancouver lifestyle. You don’t know what’s better or worse until you’ve travelled and lived in different countries.

If you have any questions  or share similar feelings after going on exchange, feel free to leave a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Can you spot me in Birmingham?

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