1. Prepare yourself

Preparation to become an exchange student plays a very big and important role.

How much prepared are you for this experience?

A good start is to begin with is asking yourself for your purpose of becoming an exchange student.

Make a self-reflection. Especially if your answer to some of the items in this article is negative, try to understand why and how it can affect you, or how to fix it.

What is the fundamental purpose of your Student Exchange?    

Let’s start with what Student Exchange is not.

·       Student Exchange is not an opportunity to have a semester or two of cheap travel, party or holidays. Surely, you will gain many different experiences from what your regular life is like, but you will soon see than most of the best memories will happen to you spontaneously in your regular student life.

·       If you are struggling with your current life or parents, an exchange is surely not to the right way to escape.

·       Don’t expect your exchange to change you immediately and in a particular way. One of the most common mistakes is to expect that the purpose of exchange is to change you or to change your life.  The exchange will help you to grow personally, get more mature and develop yourself, but that change is not immediate and although can be partially planned, is not 100% under your control.  

Being an exchange student requires a certain personality

What character traits you can develop in a student exchange and what it requires from you?

  • To be independent.
  • To like people and like to socialize.
  • To be willing to take responsibility for your actions.
  • To be compliant with rules and regulation.
  • To be willing to manage conflicts with humour.
  • To be open-minded.
  • You need perseverance.

If you are uncomfortable with getting used to a new environment and hardship from the beginning of your stay, you may not  have the personality to be a successful exchange student. Neither should you consider an exchange if you are uncomfortable with associating with students of different religious, ethnic, or economic backgrounds.

Developing a support group 

Developing a support group in your new country makes a large part of your success as an exchange student. Being brave enough to break from the support group you have known and relied upon your entire life will require a certain bravery from you. This is necesssary as if you do not build meaningful relationships with people from your new host country, you will be isolating yourself in a place far from home and end up lonely and sad.

Food is a large part of a culture

Food is a large part of a culture. We can say that food basically is a reflection of both geography and culture of a country. If it is difficult for you to find tastes that you are used from your home and you are hardly willing to try new food, then you are going to miss out on much of what a different culture has to offer. This goes for everyone and not just exchange students. In this point, remember the fundamental purpose of your exchange... 

Ask yourself, “Am I open to try new food?” If the answer is “no”, then you should reconsider long term exchange or resign yourself to only a short term stay aboad.

Be honest to yourself and the people around

An exchange student must be open and honest. Don't try to persuade people around you telling them “things are OK” when they are not. Keep in mind that your success as an exchange student depends largely on the communication you have with the community at your host universtiy, your new home and friends.

Ask yourself, “Do I have the ability to seek solutions through honest behavior and open communication?” 

If you answer positively in majority of the points mentioned above, and the best in all of them, you are ready to start planning your exchange. Good luck!


2. Preparing your study schedule

How to prepare your study schedule? That is another big and important issue you need to think about and also the next step in planning your exchange.