If you are reading this you are probably one of the lucky few that have been given the amazing opportunity to go on a study exchange or an Erasmus. I hope this post can help you understand how lucky you are and hopefully help you to decide where the best place for you to study might be.
I am currently on a Study Exchange in Canada, and being truly honest I didn’t want to come to Canada. Canada wasn’t one of my top preferences, but my course is quite competitive and it just so happened the people with better grades also wanted the choices I had in my top 10. So why am I here in freezing Ottawa if I wanted to be in sunny Australia?
I was initially devastated when I got the email that I had got a place in uOttawa. Not because I didn’t like the sound of it, it was more because I was so keen on going to Australia. I even considered not going. For a ‘warm weather girl’, the idea of living in a climate that averaged at -18 degrees celsius sounded like torture. That’s when I decided I needed a serious reality check! I started to realise how lucky I was to have been given this amazing opportunity. As one of the girls I have met in Canada says I’ll be ‘one experience richer’ at the end of it.
Since I have arrived I haven’t looked back once, I laugh at that girl who threw a little tantrum because she didn’t get her first choice. I have met the most amazing people and I am lucky enough to have some of my best friends both with me and only a short train journey away. I have so many exciting trips planned and I know if I stupidly decided not to come it would be something I would have regretted for the rest of my life. So if you are given the opportunity, DO IT!
So if you are still in the choosing process here are some factors you might want to consider before applying:
- Language barrier – do you speak more than one language and would you like to improve it? For me, I tried to avoid places with a language barrier, even though my classes would have been through English I just felt it would be easier to make friends if I spoke the same language as them.
- Climate – The one that went against me in the end, but you should consider if would you like to explore a different climate to your home country’s climate.
- Culture – Would you like to experience a completely new culture to what you are used to or something similar enough?
- College ranking – study exchanges are not only great for experiencing new things and meeting new people, they are also a great way to get to another college name on your CV, so maybe consider where all of the different colleges are ranked and maybe pick one higher than the college you are currently in.
- How far from home you are comfortable being – I wouldn’t say I am a home bird, yes I will miss my family and my friends at times but I love being away and doing new things. If you are anxious about going away on a study exchange based on being home sick it might be a good idea to consider somewhere closer to home. If you fall under this category, having a smaller time difference and the potential opportunity to fly home or for people to visit you should be something you should maybe take into account.
- Friends – this should DEFINITELY not be a major deciding factor on where to go, but it just so happened one of my best friends got into the same college as me and some of my other best friends are in Canada as well. We all got really lucky how it worked out, and it gives me some sense of home – I know some people might say ‘that’s not a real Erasmus experience’ if I have friends close by but it’s just how it has worked out and I am really thankful for it.
- Budget – some places are a lot more expensive than others, do your research on the cost of living in terms of food, accommodation and activities in each place and it might help you make your decision.
Push yourself to go and you will be thankful you did, I haven’t met one person that has regretted going on a study exchange. So go and do your research and start applying!
I hope this advice helps you guys! See you in the next one.
The Girl on the Go xx