Students today are keen to explore themselves and see the world. Travel has become more accessible to students than ever before. One attractive opportunity for students who are not studying abroad is to combine their passion for travel with a study opportunity. They can do this by opting for a semester abroad or a student exchange program. Several colleges and business schools have made study abroad and student exchange programs a part of their curriculum. In a student exchange program, students from a university study abroad for a few semesters at the university’ partner institutions. For example, St. Stephen’ College from Delhi University has partnered with Brown University, U.S.A to allow its students to take certain courses at Brown University’s campus. These programs may add to your college tuition, accommodation and living expenses but also increase your exposure if they’re done right.
Here are a few reasons you may want to consider doing a an exchange programs:
1. Widen your professional and personal community
Exchange programs give students an opportunity to interact with classmates from different cultural backgrounds. Several students live with a local family to make the most of their experience. Some also choose to do internships and projects with local companies to get a better insight into the work environment. These experiences mould students into global professionals, aware and respectful of diversity. The bonds they make stay for life making that place a home away from home! The Semester at Sea program has students from across the world who learn by traveling on a ship to various countries. These kinds of shared experiences help you connect with diverse students by aligning around common interests and activities.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Being away from your family and friends pushes you to become independent. You will need to make new friends and learn how to handle situations yourself. Student exchange programs are a great way to understand if life as an international student appeals to you. It can also be considered as a trial for those wanting to pursue their post-graduation abroad. These programs simulate life as a full-time international student and push you out of your comfort zone. They force you to adapt to different situations, sometimes in an alien language, away from the luxuries of home. They are a great way to become self-reliant in a short time.
3. Access opportunities in different geographies
Multinational companies prefer to hire people who are well versed with the work-culture, language and customs of different countries. Exposure helps you become a better student and also a more marketable professional. If you have studied for a semester abroad at a well know university, chances are you’ve competed at a global level. You will also be comfortable with life abroad and can quickly adapt to a new role if posted abroad. Becoming proficient in different languages can increase your chances of being hired to a great extent, so make sure to actively pick courses to study them during your exchange.
On the whole, if you’re studying in India, doing a semester or living abroad will help you grow as an individual. If your university doesn’t offer a study abroad program, you can look for international internships to give you a flavour of a different country. You can also go for cultural exchanges through organizations such as Rotary International and student bodies such as AIESEC. You should consider every aspect of the student exchange program before taking a call. Other than costs, take time to consider the reputation of the university to be attended, safety, climatic conditions and your food habits before deciding. These experiences can create memories for life and you should go ahead if it feels right for you.