Top Ten Lessons I Learned From Going on Exchange

Going on exchange is a once in a lifetime experience, but the lessons you learn are ones that stay with you no matter where you go. I went on exchange last semester and these are the biggest things that I’ve taken back home with me!

10) Only spending cash makes it way easier to track and budget your money.

Taking out a certain amount for the week will really help you to prioritize your spending and it makes you think about your spending way more than just tapping your card.

9) Walking is good for mental health.

Living off campus and travelling around, hitting the 10,000 recommended steps a day is a peace of cake — but it also may help put your mind at peace too.

8) There doesn’t need to be a reason to go out.

Don’t have plans for the day? Go downtown and just wander until you find something that occupies your interest or try going somewhere you’ve never been before — even if it sucks, you’ll still get a better story out of it compared to Netflix days.

7) But there’s nothing wrong with Netflix days too.

You don’t always need to have plans — and doing things you enjoy is never “wasted time.”

6) School is so much more enjoyable when you’re not under constant pressure from deadlines.

Being able to go to the movies during a school year, write for pleasure, travel and participate in the arts? I definitely don’t have time at home. On exchange, being able to breathe was so much easier on my mental health and wellbeing in general.

5) Time moves so much faster exactly when you want it to move slower.

Coming to the end of my time on exchange, I crammed in so many day trips and went to so many places I hadn’t been before because I wanted to make the most out of it — the last few weeks just flew by.

4) It’s nice to have people’s support, but it’s not necessary.

You can never please everyone. Doing things against the wishes of others can be hard — but remember that you are only living for yourself, not everyone else.

3) Solitude can be empowering.

You don’t need a best friend, significant other or your family to be a whole, interesting person. Sometimes, being on yourself is all you need.

2) Responsibilities follow you wherever you go.

You'll still be connected to your friends and you can still be on a lot of the same teams when you’re away. Make sure that you still leave enough room to get involved at your new campus, though!

1) Traveling alone isn’t as scary as you were led to believe.

There’s no reason that you should be any more afraid of going out alone in Waterloo than you are anywhere else. Be vigilant and take care of yourself, but take the chance on being independent as well.