The travel I have done over the past two years would not have been possible without my study abroad experience. Because of this I am very aware that my exchange in London was a life changing opportunity. Consequently, I now try to encourage as many students as possible to embark on an exchange during their degree! Below I have put together 7 of my favourite things that studying abroad enabled me to achieve and learn from. It is my hope that sharing these with you will make you feel more confident and excited about what an exchange program could do for you!
1. Resume Booster
While this is an obvious one, I can’t overstate how important it is to take your career prospects into consideration. We live in an increasingly globalised world where international networking, an awareness of global markets and an appreciation of diversity are key factors that employers look for.
In every interview I have done since my exchange, my time studying in London has been a great discussion point that allowed the interviewer to learn more about my interests and personality. The independence, planning and confidence required to go on exchange are also all great indicators of character and aptitude.
Studying at a new university with its own unique reputation is also something that employers may want to know about. For example, I did journalism subjects during my exchange and City University London is ranked the #1 Journalism School in the UK.
2. New Friends
A study exchange will put you in situations with people that you would never have encountered or thought to chat to before! This is one of my favourite things about studying abroad and traveling in general. It is so much fun to hang out with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and it makes for some fascinating conversations.
Furthermore, I strongly believe there is something about meeting someone in an exciting environment that creates an instant bond. There are people I had only a few conversations with but would definitely meet up with if I was in their home city. There are also people I spent very short periods of time with that I now consider some of my best friends! Coming back home from an exchange it was wonderful to know that wherever I go in the world, a familiar face is close by 🙂
3. Taking a ‘break’ from your studies
I went on my study exchange during my 4th year of university. I study a Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Media Communications and while I enjoy my degrees, by my fourth year I was feeling quite worn out. Because I did not take a break in between high school and university I was able to treat my study exchange as a gap year. While I was still studying full time the fact that I was in a new city was refreshing and invigorated my interest in my degrees. I was also lucky in that my City University London timetable was only 1 day a week. This meant that I had plenty of time to explore London or travel for the remainder of the week.
4. Cultural awareness
Coming from Australia and in particular, Brisbane it was eye opening to live in an extremely multicultural and cosmopolitan city. As I will mention later on in this article, while Brisbane is developing at quite a rapid pace, it still has a long way to go.
This cultural awareness was not only heightened by the people I was living with in the student dorms but in my actual university classes. Because of the diversity of students the tutorial discussions had a really broad range of opinions to consider (especially for some of the Journalism and Sociology units I completed).
While this point is more relevant to people who do not live in the city or are from small cities like myself, going to a place as huge as London would be a cultural change for most people.
5. Unforgettable Memories
This is a subjective point but is something that I treasure dearly. I get so happy being able to look back on memories such as 3:00AM study sesh cramming with my American roommates, dorm parties on the weekend or epic mid-semester trips like Camping in the Sahara Desert! While I am not dismissing some great Brisbane memories I would be lying if I said my first three years of university compared to the absolute high of living and studying in London. It refreshed my dedication to my studies and ambition to make regular travel a part of my permanent lifestyle.
6. ‘Escape the Bubble’
Something that my study exchange facilitated was my ability to ‘escape the bubble.’ I come from a relatively small city in Australia. It is the kind of place that if you meet someone on your travels that is also from Brisbane, you will likely have at least one mutual friend on Facebook. Compared to places like Sydney or Melbourne, Brisbane still has a long way to go both in terms of urban development and multiculturalism. This isn’t to say I don’t love a lot about Brisbane but I was very eager to live in more of a bustling and fast paced city.
Additionally, while in places like London it is commonplace to study overseas, intern overseas or actually come from overseas – Brisbane is comparatively settled. Most people you will meet in Brisbane have worked and lived in Brisbane their whole lives. This mold was something I was eager to break from so a study exchange was the perfect opportunity to do this.
While a study exchange will test you, it will also open your eyes to your capabilities and potential. I bought my one way ticket to London at 19 years old and while I had been living out of home, moving to a new country gave me a taste of complete independence. I think this is a really great reason to go on exchange because it is incredibly satisfying to be able to look back and feel accomplished by what you were able to achieve without assistance. Because of the confidence that an exchange facilitates you may find this starts to reflect in your future career ambitions and the opportunities you pursue.
Overall, my study exchange was the best decision I have ever made. I really hope that if you are considering study abroad you take up the opportunity as I have no doubt you will love it. If you are worried about how to finance a study exchange I have a few articles on how I saved up for my time in London asuch as How To Save Money For Travel, How I Afford To Travel and How To Travel On A Budget.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below 🙂