Studying in another country can bring not only new learning, but also affective memories for a lifetime.. However, for many students this step is such a complicated process that many give up. In this article, we have gathered the main tips for good planning: from budgets to student support, to advantages and challenges you will find.
What is academic exchange?
Academic exchange is a exchange made between schools that allows students to study for a few months in another country. Although it can be done among very young people, as long as there is parental authorization, in Portugal it is more common in higher education. In this context, while taking a course at a national university, students can apply to study for one or more semesters at a partnering foreign university.
Advantages of the exchange
1. Learn another language and culture
The first big advantage when choosing to do an exchange program is the possibility of living in another country, discover a new place and have access to a new culture. In many cases, you will also learn a new language or even improve knowledge you already have. Although you can always study a different culture or language, experience on the ground will bring greater understanding and learning.
2. Meet people
The reports of the exchange experiences of the majority of the students underline the importance of meeting people. In many cases, friendships were made that last a lifetime or important contacts that can open doors later on in the professional path. Remember that it is not just that these new contacts are not only local, but also with people from different parts of the world (they are also experiencing their academic exchange). In these contexts there is, of course, a greater desire to live together and create bonds.
3. Acquire other skills
Living alone in a different country is understood to be a process of great professional and personal growth. For young people who still live with their parents, it can even be transformative. Those who choose to do the exchange will end up gaining greater independence, responsibility and the ability to adapt. Many academic and personal skills will be developed.
4. Enrich the curriculum
Later, when you finish the course and are about to enter the job market, you will want to Include this experience on your CV. The exchange is something that enriches any resume and can have a lot of weight when hiring someone. This is because exchange students are seen as more dynamic, proactive and open-minded people. These are going to be important qualities when looking for work.Also read: How to make a good CV?
However, the exchange journey is not only made of advantages. Along the way, more difficult moments may arise, but with planning and organization it is possible to overcome the challenges. The first decision to make, capable of affecting several aspects, is the country where you are going to study. In this choice, you must take into account, for example, the language. Even if you don’t know the official language, find out if classes are given in another that is more widely spoken internationally. You will also need to know if on a daily basis you can speak another language that the locals understand, for example English. One of the most felt challenges is the loneliness. At first, you are expected to feel alone. Therefore, you must participate in university activities, join clubs or find hobbies to make new friends. Finally, one of the biggest challenges is the financial level. It’s needed set a budget before embarking on this adventure. It is essential that you know that cost of living awaits you. Research and analyze, in time, to understand if it is a high cost and if, therefore, it can prevent you from moving. Also read: 9 ways to learn a foreign language for (almost) free.
set a budget
When planning the exchange experience, you will need set a budget. For this, it is necessary to take into account the different expenses that will arise. First, you will have to deal with the issue of accommodation. The cheapest option may be to look for a place in university residences. To do this, you will need to ask the new university for information in advance. Try to find out if there is any protocol between both universities for you to have access to this accommodation. Otherwise you will have to rent a room or a house, depending on your needs. The closer to campus the better. avoid extra shipping costs. Travel can be expensive. Look for round-trip travel to the new destination. Compare prices between different transports (air, train, bus) and different companies. Also think about how many times you will want to come home and include this expense in your budget. fixed expenses such as food, public transport prices and college expenses. Find out what prices are charged in the destination country for get a realistic budget. Finally, always set aside some money for unexpected expenses or to spend on leisure time. Set an amount you can spend monthly on dining out, shopping for clothes or having a cultural activity.
As for the financial weight of an academic exchange, it can even be heavy and, therefore, not accessible to every student. However, there is support, such as the Erasmus + program. This is a European program that intervenes in education, training, youth and sport. In this sense, there are specific bags so that students can participate in exchange programs, as long as the chosen country is in Europe. The scholarships available vary depending on the case of each student. Some bear all the financial costs, but beware, others only cover the cost of travel.If you are not able to help financially through the program, you can consider taking out a credit from the bank.Also read: Credit for studying: what ec coverhow do they work?