A foreign exchange is different for each student. Some people do an exchange for a few weeks, moths or up to a year. As someone who has been an exchange student herself, I can shed a bit of light on what you could experience as an exchange student.
My exchange programme was three moths long and I went to Germany from South Africa. Things were indeed very different for me on a first world country. The cities were bigger and the culture was very different. So was the language. I had learnt Germany for a few years and within three months I could almost speak it fluently. Needless to say I loved the country and I would still go live there today if got the opportunity. Learning a new language being exposed to a new culture and a different way of life were only a few of the benefits I gained from the experience.
By sharing my experience, I hope to inspire other students to do an exchange too. Below are a few of the benefits I gained from my experience and if this intrigues you and you want to know more about exchanges look at the list of requirements for taking part in such programs. There is also a list to the top 7 exchange programmes for you to consider.
Benefits of students exchange programs:
- As an exchange student I was completely alone in a foreign country. I had to be independent in many ways. Simply asking for directions in a foreign language can teach you a bit of independence. I stayed with a new family in Germany and had to meet many new people.
- Education is obviously one of the most important benefits of doing an exchange program. Each country has a different standard of education, each with a unique system. You can learn a lot from being a new environment in a country with a different mind-set toward education.
- The experience you gain as an exchange student will always count for something. It looks very impressive on a resume and might guarantee you a job above someone who has not done an exchange.
- Learning a new language is a likely benefit you will gain from joining an exchange program. I know of many students who learn a new language in less than a year. Constant exposure is the key to learning a new language and once everything from the TV to newspapers are in anew language you will eventually learn to speak it fluently.
- Seeing a new standard of life and being immersed in a new culture can open your mind like never before. People do not often notice that they live in their own small worlds and that there are many different beliefs in other parts of the world.
Requirements of students exchange programs:
- To be able to do an exchange you will need to have a very good average in your marks. This is usually the first requirement you need to pass.
- You will also need to have the available cash for the exchange fees, as well as plane tickets and pocket money once you get there.
- If you have the above two requirements you will need to complete an application and submit the relevant documents. The application process could consist of questionnaires, interviews and plenty of forms to fill out.
- Once you have been accepted for the program the last requirements are a passport and a visa.
Top 7 foreign exchange programs
- University of Evansville
- Guilford College
- Emerson College
- Carleton College
- University of Washington
- Biola University
- University of St. Thomas
The University of Evansville is located about an hour from the capital of England, London. They offer a unique exchange program that is perfect for anyone who wants to study the English language, history and culture.
This university situated in the Italian Alps offers students the Guilford College’s Brunnenburg Semester where students study and work in this beautiful city near the Austrian border. Only fourteen students are chosen for the Brunnenburg Semester each year.
Emerson College’s Semester Abroad Program the Netherlands is home to 85 Emerson students each fall and spring term. Students are selected by a random lottery, and must apply one year in advance. Student study the culture and history of Europe.
Carleton College in Minesota, USA, offers several programs for example study ecology in Australia, Chinese in China, geology in New Zealand, and urbanisation in Tanzania. Carleton has been involved with exchange programmes for 40 years and are well experienced in this filed.
The University of Washington offers students hundreds of study abroad opportunities amongst others you can study architecture in Rome, art in Spain, literature in France, or Spanish in Peru.
Biola University in Heidelberg, Germany, offers foreign students the Heidelberg Semester Program. The town of Heidelberg has a rich history that forms part of any exchange student’s education. The program is offered in the spring and fall semesters. Sprechensie Deutsch?
The University of St. Thomas in London offers the London Business Semester were students get to experience the theory they have learnt and apply it to a real world scenario. They will also learn more about British history, customs, culture, economy, politics, and life in Great Britain as well as travelling to close by Europe.
Students will not have the same exchange experience in either of the above programmes as each country and each university will be different. With some of the above programs student travel with a faculty member and with some they stay in a hostel or with a family.