As with any big decision, planning has an effect on the experience you end up having as a result. Whether you decide to go on exchange in the start of your second year or all the way at the end of your fourth, planning where you want to go, what modules you would like to clear while you’re there, and when you want to do it will make a vast difference to the ease of transition, as well as to your entire education in SMU as a whole.
2. Go with friends
No matter how eye-opening an experience is, one cannot argue that its always made better with companionship - and going on exchange is no exception. Considering the fact that you’ll most likely be thrust into an unfamiliar environment, a friend is the best thing you could have by your side to combat the newness of it all. And of course, to make lots of memories with.
3. Clear mods
One of the beautiful things about going on exchange is that you’re able to clear modules that count toward your degree while you’re overseas having the time of your life - and the modules you take are considered on a pass/fail grading system. Researching which modules are available at the school you’ll be studying at will help you make a better decision of where to go, as well as which (harder) modules you should avoid while in SMU.
4. Learn the language
Whether you’re studying in France, Germany, Korea, or any of the exquisite locations available on the plethora of choices offered by SMU, one of the biggest roadblocks you’ll encounter is being able to efficiently converse with the people you meet on a day-to-day basis while you’re there. Picking up simple phrases that will help you manoeuvre the daily landscape; greeting your peers, asking for directions, and most importantly: getting your Starbucks order just right.
5. Plan an itinerary
Despite how crammed your school schedule will presumably be, its worthwhile to plan activities that you want to do outside of classes. Whether its trips to the museum, perusing the menus of the best cafes there, or getting to every local club, planning out these activities will go a long way in helping you to manage your time better, as well as achieve all your goals while you’re there.
Being in an entirely foreign environment will undoubtedly spur foreign feelings, and possibly even change your outlook on many things. This flux will be overwhelming but hopefully satisfying, and journalling is one of the best things you can do to help discern your feelings, as well as keep track of the progress you’re making while you’re there.
Reiterating a phrase from point 2, experiences are always better with a friend by your side. Being introduced to so many new people from different backgrounds can be daunting, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn and grow from new friendships and introductions to different ways of thinking.
At the end of the day, going on exchange is a priceless experience that should be cherished, and milked, to the very end. Hopefully, these tips will elucidate a strategy that will help you make the most out of your exchange programme.