Most universities nowadays offer multiple opportunities for exchange programs. That means you get to spend one semester or one year abroad and away from your home university, sometimes with funding available.
If you are studying in the UK you may be eligible for the Erasmus program: a European Commission-funded program of exchange between European universities.
- Exchange programs make you more employable
For a start, let’s just say that experiencing a different education system and practices can be of great advantage once you enter the job market.
Not only is it proven that taking part in an international exchange increases the students’ chances of employability, but it also helps them gain skills for their future jobs.
Research among European students who took part in the Erasmus international exchange found that students in the program had increased their employment by 42% compared to those who haven’t taken part in any kind of international exchange.
It’s always good to think about the future, and by the time you finish your degree, you want your CV to have something that will make you stand out from the crowd.
- Exchange programs make you (even) more globally aware
In the UK for example, as a postgraduate student, you are expected to address your professors by their first name.
In many countries that is not the case, so if you are in an opposite situation, addressing your professor by their first name may be considered quite rude.
Later on, once you start looking for jobs and going on jobs interviews, that type of practical knowledge can be of great advantage as we all know that first impressions are very important.
- Exchange programs make you adaptable
Further on, experiencing different academic communities may be great for you to improve your academic skills!
Your new university may be more or less demanding than your home university, and you will have to adjust your academic performance in relation to the different tasks you encounter.
- Exchange programs take you out of your comfort zone (again)
Even though you might think you’ve already crossed out of your comfort zone by becoming an international student, this type of exchange makes you flexible in a different kind of way. It is very easy to relax and dwell on the simple joys of everyday life when you’re living with your friends or family.
During your exchange program, you won’t have 3 or 4 years (depending on the length of your degree) to settle down, find your friends who you might live with, to get to know the city you’re living in. The international exchange makes you even more proactive since you have to do all that in just a few months!
You may suddenly realize how adaptive you are, how tolerant you can be, and that communication is the key.
Living with strangers also brings many spontaneous advantages. Have you ever tried homemade Moroccan stew or heard someone speak Maltese? (yes, that’s a real language)
The point is, you never know who you might end up living with and that’s what makes it fun. You can learn something new without even realizing it.
- Exchange programs help you make global connections
Living in a foreign country is great if you want to move to that country later on, or even any other.
If the country you’re currently living in does not seem like a perfect place to start your career, or you don’t want to go back home, exploring other countries might be useful at this stage in your life.
If you are going back to your home university, then you got to experience what it’s like to live somewhere else and explore all the perks that another city and country offers. Plus, you will already have many contacts there who can help you if you decide to come back someday.
That kind of experience brings small practicalities such as dealing with foreign currencies, different bureaucratic systems, and improving your cultural awareness.
Knowing things like “in Bulgaria nodding your head ‘yes’ means ‘no’” and “in Greece, you must not wave ‘thank you’ to a car who stops on a pedestrian crossing,” you can only really learn these things by traveling.