Student exchange programmes: Pros and cons
Student exchange programmes are a wonderful way to gain invaluable experiences. Being an exchange student means leaving home and every friend, but it also means getting to know new people, learning a foreign language and advancing academically. For someone who considers becoming an exchange student but has doubts as to whether the exchange programme works for them, here’s a list of pros and cons developed by the WriteEssayForMe team. It will help determine whether the exchange life is what someone is looking for.
Advantages of student exchange programmes
Let’s begin by listing the reasons why young people want to become exchange students. These are quite universal and concern all exchange programmes:
- Language and culture. Many students polish up their study abroad applications for one reason – they want to travel and experience a new way of living. Studying abroad for a year or so (depending on a programme) allows them to learn a new language and culture and visit the places they’ve never seen. Cultural enrichment is not limited to language and sightseeing, as it also includes traditions, food, people, habits, and many other aspects.
- New friends. Exchange students may experience challenges finding friends at first, but once they get used to the new setting and gain some language skills, they can expand their social networks. Meeting new friends can promote emotional and personal development in a way that can’t be imagined.
- New educational system. Exchange programmes are good for trying something new in terms of studying. It entails being exposed to unfamiliar teaching styles, a different curriculum, subjects, etc., which will promote cognitive and intellectual development. If someone plans to continue their education abroad, an exchange programme may help decide whether the selected educational system works for them.
Disadvantages of student exchange programmes
Unfortunately, student exchange programmes do not work for all students and may become a real challenge. Therefore, before applying to one, consider these disadvantages:
- Homesickness. Being in a foreign country thousands of miles away from your family and friends may turn out to be an ordeal. Students who got used to being pampered by their parents may find it particularly challenging to live abroad for many months. Even if adjustment goes well, and a student uses video-calling and messengers to stay in touch with the family, homesickness may still be a barrier to enjoying the host country.
- Loneliness. Exchange programmes may be an isolating experience if students struggle to make friends. Easy-going, introverted students may find new friends easily, but those feeling uncomfortable socialising, attending events, joining groups, and initiating conversations feel lost and lonely. Stereotypes about exchange students being weird and lonely emerged for a reason, so think about it.
- Getting along with a host family. Most of the time, exchange students live on campus or in a host family. Getting along with adults who set their own rules and feel responsible for you may be difficult, especially given the language barrier and cultural differences. For example, you may find out that your host family does not allow children to leave the house after 8 p.m.
- Cost. Finally, exchange programmes are expensive, and not all families can pay for international flights, accommodation, living costs, books, etc. Even if students have money, managing them may be difficult due to unfamiliar currencies, different prices, and the lack of financial management skills.
Tips on making the right choice
If the disadvantages do not scare you, and you are strongly determined to proceed with your application, take your time and choose the most suitable option. Choose only accredited educational institutions with a good reputation. Read more about each option and pay attention to the curriculum, teachers, and facilities. For example, if you are into sports, you may want to find a school that provides the needed sports facilities and equipment, so you won’t get out of shape.
Then, learn more about the financial aspect of the programme. For-profit exchange programmes are expensive, but they usually focus on greater academic rigor than not-for-profit ones. The latter, however, are more accessible and allow you to live in a host family.
Next, make sure the programme is safe. Learn more about the health insurance options, host families, and overall situation in a selected country. You need to be sure that in case of an emergency, there are people who will take care of you.
Another useful thing to do is to talk to someone who has already been an exchange student. Ask them to share their experiences and useful tips. Their insight may help you decide what programme to choose and what preparations to make before traveling. However, don’t forget that every student is unique and that even if you hear negative feedback, it does not mean that you will have a similar experience.
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