Schools Training

Student Guide to Student Exchange

29 JAN 2014

As a student, you’ve probably heard many times that being a student is one of the most exciting times in your life and that you should take advantage of all of the opportunities available. One of the ways that you can do this is by spending time abroad. Whether you decide to volunteer or to do a student exchange, there’s no more enriching way to expand your mind and learning potential than to travel. Whether you decide to complete an exchange program through your campus or embark on a trip or volunteer project based on your own research, learning about a variety of cultures has innumerable benefits. Although you’ve heard much about studying abroad it’s difficult to know where exactly to start with your research and learning about which program will be the best for you.  To learn more about the variety of programs program available, any college news or school news will have listings on their website or through career services.

Why study abroad?

Some of the benefits to completing an exchange program overseas includes enhancing your employment opportunities through improving your ability to speak second language, a broader world view that will assist you with working at international organizations or simply developing skills that you would never be able to learn in a classroom setting or on the job. Navigating the globe cross-culturally is an intangible skill that will be beneficial to any student through the understanding of a culture that is not your own. However though study abroad has many benefits, there are students that would prefer a less academically inclined program and many would prefer to volunteer abroad instead.

Is volunteering overseas for me?

Through volunteering overseas students will be able to experience similar benefits to a study abroad program, except with a non-academic perspective. Volunteering overseas is a great way to learn about cultures while gaining work experience. As well, students will be able to improve their skill set. This is particularly advantageous for students who study in competitive programs and will find the work experience beneficial to add to their resume. And for the more altruistically minded students, many consider volunteering overseas in order to help local communities who may not have an abundances of resources and benefit simply by knowing that they’ve helped a community in need.

Deciding on a program

When trying to decide on study abroad or volunteer program there are many factors to keep in mind. For example, some questions to consider may include the following:

  • Will my credits be transferrable?
  • Does the school offer courses in my program?
  • How much will the program cost?
  • What is the reputation of the program?
  • Will the country be safe to travel in?
  • Will I need a visa?
  • What is the cost of living?

Finally, although studying abroad is a great adventure for students, before departing, it will be beneficial to weigh the pros and cons of the potential program. Many students spend hours researching a variety of programs through their college directory to find a program that is the right fit. Since you are the one who will be the one embarking on the program and travelling overseas, it is important to find a program that will be the best one for your long term career. Good luck!