7 Reasons Not To Go On an Exchange... and Why You Should Go Anyway!

Studying abroad is an incredible experience, but for many students it’s not uncommon to get caught between wanting to go and coming up with excuses for why you shouldn’t. So here’s 7 reasons your brain might be telling you not to go… and why you shouldn’t listen to it.

1.    Money

I won’t lie - this is a tough one, and probably the biggest hold back for most people when you’re considering going on exchange. After paying for tuition, housing, and just everyday living fees, money can be pretty tight. It can be difficult to swing the extra costs of going abroad - but it is possible!

The first thing I suggest is looking into any bursaries or scholarships that might be available. Most universities offer a travel bursary that is automatically given to any student accepted into the exchange program and there are often many other scholarship options for students studying abroad.

Secondly, and I know this seems like an obvious one, but getting a part time job, or if you already have one, designating a certain amount every month to go towards funding your trip. Personally, in preparation for my year abroad, I moved about 1/4 of each of my pay cheques into a separate account so I wouldn’t be tempted to spend it. Also, I started up a loose coin jar where at the end of each week any change I had rattling around in my purse went into the jar, and then at the end of the month it went into my exchange account.

Figuring out the financial part of going on exchange can be stressful, but it is possible to manage it. Before you count yourself out for going on exchange try talking to one of the Student Services offices or the Financial Support Team, as they can help you go through all of your funding options.

2. It could delay my graduation

To start off, I will say that most schools are pretty strict on making sure that all of the classes you take abroad will transfer back to your home university so that it won’t throw you off track for graduation. On the other hand though, graduating a year later is truly no big deal. I know it might seem like it is, and that it’s going to put you behind everyone else your age, but it won’t! In many ways, if you do have to take an extra year you might actually find there’s a huge benefit in having some more time to think about what you want to do after graduation.

3. I don’t speak the language!

Everyone has to begin somewhere with learning a new language and one of the best ways to do it is immersing yourself in it. When learning a new language, many people are often shy about speaking but the necessity of having to use the language and communicate with those around you will help you learn and develop your skills. However, if learning another language is not exactly your cup of tea, or you’re not quite sure you want to jump fully into learning a new language, there are still many English speaking destinations for exchange. Also, many non-English speaking countries offer exchange programs that are fully in English too.

4. I can’t just drop everything going on in my life right now to go away for a year/semester           

As students, our lives are busy. Between seeing friends and family, part time jobs, sports, societies and many other things, the idea of dropping all of it, picking up and moving, can seem completely impossible. But right now is one of the best times to travel. Life is only going to get busier after graduation and it becomes much harder to drop everything and take 6 months or a year off to travel the world when you have a full-time job and many more “adult” responsibilities.

While a year might seem like a long time to be away from everything and everyone it’s truly not. Friends and family will always be there for you when you get back. You can always rejoin societies or sports teams. While jobs can be a bit more complicated, it’s worthwhile having a conversation with your manager early on about your plans to go on exchange and see if there is something that can be worked out.

5.  I don’t want to be away from my family and friends  

The idea of moving to another country on your own is overwhelming and downright scary. For many, the idea of having to leave your friends and family behind is more than enough of a reason to not go on exchange. My advice is to not let this stop you! Your friends and family are only a text away and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you will make new friends. I remember being terrified that I was going to regret my decision of going on exchange and miss out on a year with my friends, but I’ve quickly found that while I do miss everyone at home dearly, I’ve made some great friends here. Also, I have already been given many opportunities to experience things I never would have had if I chose to stay home.

6. It won’t help me in the long run

Now this, I promise you, is very untrue! Studying abroad is not only beneficial for personal growth but it can also have a huge positive impact on your professional skills. According to Erasmus, 81% of students see an improvement in their transferrable skills, and 90% see improvement in soft skills such as adaptability, working and communication. Furthermore, 64% of employers see international experience as highly valuable and important in recruitment.  Being an exchange student brings about many unique experiences and it allows you to explore things outside your comfort zone and to challenge yourself in new ways.

7. The time difference is going to make it hard for me to talk to my family/friends, I won’t know what’s going on

Whilst being in a different time zone can be frustrating, it is a completely manageable barrier. In the first few weeks it can be a bit tough waiting hours for responses, but over time you'll develop a routine and you’ll start to know the best times to call home.

Also, with social media being the way it is these days, it’s super easy to keep up with everything that is happening at home and to share what you’re getting up to. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat you’re definitely going to stay in the loop about what’s going on at home.

Edited by: Amy Hawthorne