Why every student needs to go on a study exchange
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When I first wandered around the Study Abroad fair at my university and saw the sea of flags and smiling faces beaming with experiences of a lifetime, my only future plans were just humouring all of the leaflet handers, flag bearers and university officials. The only thing I was planning was what topping I was going to have on my Dominoes that night, and how I was going to persuade my friend to get the bus home after she had finished dragging me around this fair. Little did I know that a year later I would be one of those smiling faces brandishing free university pens and chattering about my travels, at a university on the other side of the world. The idea of a semester abroad had never even crossed my mind as something that I would endeavour to do. I used all the excuses - I’d get too homesick, I don’t have the money, even I can’t be bothered (yes I am ashamed). It’s for the outgoing person, the kids with friendship bracelets up to the elbows, dreadlocks and elephant print baggy trousers that sit around the campfire in the second Inbetweeners movie (you know the ones). But, I did have a dream - Australia. The land down under has always been top of my bucket list to visit, and the sight of the flag at a small table at the fair caught my attention. Still though, it’s so far away, I’d never be able to survive that long flight on my own . Plus, how would I get by without Yorkshire Tea and Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway? But when I started looking at Australian universities, I started to believe that this might actually be something that I could do. My first two years at university were some of the best of my life and I adored my degree and living in uni accommodation, so why not do the same on the other side of the world? The wonderful thing about a study exchange is that you’ve already experienced your first freshers' week, learning the ins and outs of the university learning portal and getting lost on campus on your first day, so doing it over again is a doddle. Eventually I made the decision to move to the other side of the world, (Wollongong, New South Wales to be precise) and study for a semester abroad as part of a Professional Training Year, and it was the best decision I ever made. I received the warmest welcome possible when I arrived at my halls of residence in Australia, and being a part of a university community meant that settling in was a breeze, and I found a second family in a whole different hemisphere.
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