Student exchange programs give great educational and socialization opportunities to thousands of students around the world. They help you discover the world and learn from what it has to offer to young and driven people like you. It is an invaluable investment in your future and the personality you get to build upon your own.
Before you go on your journey, it’s essential to know what to expect and how to be prepared for the challenges you might face when doing an exchange program abroad. Here is a short overview of the pros and cons you will probably experience during your year (or two) abroad.
Pros of Participating in an Exchange Program
When going for a temporary study abroad, you get to enjoy a lot of perks that are not necessarily related to education. It’s also often about socialization, expanding your horizons, and exploring new things. Here are the factors you will benefit from.
1. Meeting New People
Your chance to study and live abroad for a month will undoubtedly give you multiple opportunities to meet new people and make new international friends. When participating in an exchange program, you will probably find yourself in an international group full of students from different corners of the world. All of them will be from the same age group, with similar interests and aspirations in life. This will be an excellent chance to enjoy the perks of socialization with your peers and sharing your experiences about living abroad and dealing with a new culture. You also get to take your soft skills to a new level.
2. Learning a New Foreign Language
One of the best things about living abroad is the chance to learn a new foreign language within a short period. Being exposed to the language environment, you will find it much easier to master the language of the country where you do your exchange program.
It should also be easy to grasp the local pronunciation and make sure you speak the same way the natives do, or at least close enough to impress with your future language proficiency. This is also an excellent opportunity to invest in your future CV: having one or two foreign languages on the list will certainly raise your chances of getting a great job when you graduate from your higher education institution.
3. Traveling Around
Being based in a foreign country, you will probably be tempted to travel a lot. And you should go with it, travel the country and maybe even explore the neighboring countries in case you have enough time and money for that. You will be even luckier if you do your exchange program somewhere in the European Union.
It’s straightforward to travel from one country to another, all of them are pretty close to each other, so going from one place to another doesn’t take much time. Furthermore, there are lots of good deals when it comes to flight tickets: you can travel from Poland to Germany for €10.
4. Unique Educational Opportunities
As an exchange student, you get to explore a foreign educational system. You can even take the courses that were not available at your home university. You will also see different educational strategies and can benefit from them.
It’s an excellent chance for you to revolutionize your educational experience and improve the way you learn and take new information in. Maybe your new fellow students can tell you some secrets about the way they manage their studies. For example, they might share some useful resources with you, like essayservice.com.
Cons of Participating in an Exchange Program
Nothing is entirely black or completely white. There are advantages and disadvantages to almost everything in life. Exchange programs come with their challenges and downside you should be aware of before you sign up for such an adventure.
1. Experiencing That Culture Shock
No matter what you do, we are all a product of the society we were raised in. This means that everyone comes with a sort of cultural baggage: beliefs and prejudices. Being exposed to a foreign culture, you will quite possibly have to go through what is known as culture shock.
It’s the reaction you get when you don’t understand or even can’t accept the way people behave, think, or react to certain things and events. Mentality differs from country to country, and the farther your exchange country is from your home country, the more cultural differences you will notice. The important thing is to remember that culture shocks are normal, and you just need to be mindful there.
2. Being Homesick
A major disadvantage of exchange programs lies in the fact that you will spend a long time away from your family and friends, which might be challenging at times. All of us have a certain social circle where we live. That social circle is also a source of psychological attachment to the place and the people you associate it with.
Going on an exchange program means that you will have to deal with the problem of feeling homesick for quite a while. It’s also possible that you will suffer from loneliness before you build up a new social circle in the country where you do your exchange program. Luckily, you can easily have video calls with your friends and family and see them even if it’s a virtual meeting.
3. Added Expenses
Not all scholarships and exchange programs will cover 100% percent of your expenses. If you go to a country that has higher living costs, you might need to find an additional source of income like a part-time job or freelance gigs to get some extra pocket money. With all the traveling temptation, your expenses might go up, and you need to know how to take control of your finances to feel safe and secure.