No single university offers everything a student may need or want. This is a fact. Some universities may be the best in the field of Law; some may be the best in the field of Business; but definitely, no single entity covers the best of all worlds. On top of this, there is more to learning than just lectures, exams, and classroom discussions. Life after college is far beyond the pages of textbooks that students tend to get so busy about. What about the different groups of people one can possibly work with? Or the different culture one has to cope with? This is what the real world offers!
Major colleges and universities see the merit of collaborating with fellow universities around the globe to offer their students the necessary exposure to the higher level of learning experience. That is, experiencing learning in diversity – diversity in people and culture, diversity in geography, diversity in teaching style, and diversity in overall personal experiences. This is the so-called student exchange program. Member universities share students (under the discretion and capability of the student) for the good and advancement of students themselves. For instance, University A and University B are both members of a certain student exchange program. Both are geographically and culturally distant, and one offers courses and expertise that the other does not. This makes the conglomeration strong – students of both universities get to experience the best of both worlds. Generally, students avail of exchange programs for the following reasons:
- It allows them to experience different teaching philosophy from professors of different cultures;
- It allows them to personally collaborate with people from another culture – how it is to deal with them, how to address cultural differences, and how to be flexible;
- It allows them to broaden their social network in general, which may offer a door for future employment;
- It gives them the chance to be independent and mature by being away from home and family - thus, making them the street-smart person that they can possibly be;
- It gives them the chance to explore another geographical location – the physical beauty and richness of the country; and
- It opens the door and window in seeing life in different perspective.
So, what are things students should look for in a student exchange program?
- Students should keenly consider the cost of living in the host campus or country. Having financial resources to support the expenses outside the home campus is often a concern. This is why students should look for programs that would allow them to experience the benefits of being an exchange student given pretty much the same cost they will expend in the home campus. That is, the host campus should be able to offer assistance programs, like board and lodging at minimal cost, an opportunity to be a working student within the host campus - where the exchange student can earn extra allowance to compensate for the cost of moving to the place, etc.
- The student may also want to consider differences in religion. For example, a Christian may not find himself fit in a hardcore Muslim country. Although one of the benefits of student exchange program is experiencing differences in cultures, the student should also gauge the extent he can possibly handle.
- The gender consideration may also be an issue. Not all female exchange students would want to be in a country whose respect for women is far from being visible.
- The specialization of the host campus should be equally considered. Students should make sure that the campus is known and has the capability to impart the necessary learning in whatever course he opts to take in there.
- The climate of the host country is also paramount important, especially in the case of extreme climatic conditions. For someone who grew in a tropical country, it may be physiologically unhealthy to go to countries with ice-cold temperature. This is especially true for those who have pre-determined health conditions of being allergic to extremely hot or extremely cold conditions.
Being in an exchange program is an experience on its own – a great life experience! Not everybody is given the chance to experience life this way as early as in college days. When you have the chance, the opportunity that fits to Volunteering abroad - grab it, embrace it!
Finding a Student Exchange Program