Student exchange programmes are a fantastic way to experience life in another country, discover its culture and find out what makes it tick. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you work out whether it’s something you’d benefit from, together with some pointers on how to apply.
Will a student exchange programme suit me?
If you’re open-minded, keen to meet new people and enjoy the challenge of a new experience, then we’d say ‘yes’. Remember that if you like to stay too close to home, you don’t have to go anywhere too exotic; instead, think of somewhere closer where you’ll be able to settle into things more easily. There are also ways to stay in touch with home, such as Skype.
How do I apply?
Your school or college will be able to advise you here. Some have active and ongoing relationships with equivalent institutions in other countries and that’s the best place to start – typically you’ll be able to go for a single semester or an entire academic year. They’ll also have access to all the relevant information about applying for those exchange programmes you’re eligible for. You’ll need to be in good health and be achieving their grade requirements – and exchange programmes tend to favour students who demonstrate maturity.
Where will I stay?
Colleges and universities tend to have only limited places on campus, usually single rooms with simple furniture – bed, bedside table, desk, chair and sink; bathrooms and communal lavatories. In the US you’ll find shared rooms are more popular. Other students will be placed in family homes just as overseas students are in the UK. This is a great opportunity because you’ll be experiencing the day-to-day life of another culture and not just what gets taught in the classroom.
What’s it going to be like?
It’ll be like a holiday, except you’ll be working. When you go away things seem strange for a while and it takes you time to acclimatise, but you soon get into the swing of things. Do some reading up on your chosen country. Use the Internet to search for specific locations and explore aerial photographs with Google Maps and learn a little of the language before you go if you can. You’re going to be spending time living and studying with like-minded people of your age who are into all the things that you’re into and learn new things on top of that. Students who go away for even a few months come back energised and fired up with plenty of new ideas.
What will I get out of it?
The world’s a big place and there have never been more opportunities to live and work abroad – Enterprise alone has over 7,000 locations in Europe and North America and you can find out more about our internship opportunities. To participate in today’s business world you need to be educated, motivated, adaptable and able to communicate with people who come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Joining an international student exchange programme will get you off to a great start. Who knows where you could end up?