Going on exchange for a semester or two is without a doubt the best experience a university student could have, and I encourage every single UTS student to study overseas. However, it won’t all be smooth sailing; there will be good times as well as bad times; you will be pushed outside your comfort zone and learn a lot about yourself. For me, going on exchange was the first time I had lived out of home, so getting used to messy roommates who eat your food was a challenge. Back home I was used to mum cooking dinner each night when I came home, tired from university and having her doing my washing….I was spoilt! Exchange was a bit of a rude awakening, but I managed and so can you!
The first couple of weeks at the National University of Ireland, Galway were daunting. Having to make new friends in big lecture halls (they don’t have many tutorials there), finding rooms and getting used to their system were tough, but doable. I ended up making loads of friends, some exchange students, and some domestic students; I encourage you to go outside your comfort zone and make friends with the local students as this will make your exchange experience more wholesome. Another thing you must take into consideration when going on exchange is budgeting! You really don’t want to run out of money and be living on 2-minute noodles, so save up and spend your money wisely!
My exchange experience has enabled me to travel all around Europe (Belgium, Iceland, Germany, Greece, Poland and more to come). However, I advise that you take the time to explore and get to know your host country before going overseas. Go where the locals go, see the some of the attractions around the country, one place I’ve visited is Connemara in Galway where they speak Irish as their first language. Immerse yourself in your host country’s culture! This might involve changing your diet (for me potatoes are eaten with at least one meal a day in Ireland) the slang you use when talking (‘Craic’ is a word meaning ‘fun’ and is regularly used by locals!), learn about the history of the country and celebrate their national holidays (St Patrick’s Day!).
Finally, I warn you that you will have some mental breakdowns, experience homesickness, and FOMO when you see your friends going out back home on social media, but at the end of the day, this experience will make you a different person, capable of so much more. Just remember that your friends back home are going nowhere, they’ll be there when you return, envious of you and all the amazing things you got to do on exchange. So, take the leap, apply for exchange, save up and enjoy an adventure of a lifetime!
99212639, Bachelor of Business
National University of Galway, Ireland