Leaving for exchange was the best decision I have made in my life. Moving to and living in an entirely new environment was a very different experience which was equally terrifying and exciting. Learning how to navigate a new city, balance school, and make new friends in a language which you have minimal expertise is very challenging. However, once you settle into a routine, and you experience the culture you’ve been reading about for months, you realize that the stress and anxiety you’ve had is all worth it. The French culture is everything you have imagined with little speckles of goodness which you didn’t; bus strikes, dirty streets, and Persians being annoyed at tourists are real things, but so are the warm baguettes right out of the oven, little cafes which you will spend hours in, and the beautiful architecture which you could stare at for hours and still not fully grasp its beauty.
There are several things that I learned whilst on exchange. Firstly, you get to know yourself better. I know that seems ridiculously cliché, but taking some time apart from your home life and spending sometime on your own gives you the opportunity to learn things about yourself which you couldn’t at home. Secondly, it isn’t where you are, but who you are with. The best adventures are the ones which you can experience with someone else. Lastly, treasure every moment. Time flies by so quickly while your abroad, so always take a moment to realize what you are experiencing and truly soak up all the emotions good and bad in that moment.
The only advice I can think of for future exchange students is that you will never be completely truly be prepared for exchange. All you can do is prepare mentally for the adventure, and get all your affairs in order for your departure, and then just jump.
Going abroad has been the best experience I could have asked for. It was equally terrifying and exhilarating to be immersed in an entirely new environment. Constantly meeting new people, learning new cultures, making life long memories and falling in love with a new city are all a given when you leave. However, exchange is everything you think it would be, and everything you don’t; every day is an adventure waiting for you to take that jump.
KEDGE Business School, France