1. Do some research on the country you’re heading to: Doing some research on the potential countries you could head too is always a good idea. It gives you a great overview of where you might want to apply and will get you excited about the exchange in general. However, once you know where you’re going, it might be wise to get in some more specific research so you don’t feel completely lost when you arrive in your new home. Maybe have a look at some maps to get your bearings or even have a look at some fun things to do around your location and suggesting them to the people you meet to help you make some new pals. The more research the more prepared you’ll feel!
  2. Save some money before you go: When you arrive on your exchange you’ll realise very quickly that there will be a lot of activities that you’ll want to do – some free, some not. So it’s a good idea to save a bit of money both as a back up for if you run a bit low and so you can do all the activities you’ll get the opportunity to do when you arrive. Remember, exchange will be as expensive as you want it to be, so even if you don’t want to spend a lot whilst your away, its still a good idea to have a little saved just in case.
  3. Set yourself a budget: similar to the last tip but just as important to keep in mind! Make sure you don’t overspend and use your money wisely so you can get the most out of your trip without being wasteful. I know you will probably want to do as much as you can whilst you’re away in an exciting new place, but try to be sensible with your funds. Planning a weekly or monthly spending budget in advance will put your mind at rest that you have enough in the bank for your time away. An extra tip is going to speak to your local bank when you arrive as they may have specialised student bank accounts that can be used to help you budget.
  4. Get the essentials sorted in plenty of time: By essentials I mean the really important stuff like accommodation, visas, flights etc. It’s always handy to check out the government website of both your home and the country you are going to, juts to make sure that you have everything you need to travel, everything you will need on arrival and for your time away. This can be as simple as making sure your passport is in date and making sure you have somewhere to stay for the duration of your exchange! To help me do this I made an excel checklist with all the things I needed so I had a visual representation of what I’d already done and what I still needed to do.
  5. Make a list of the activities, trips and events you want to do: Whether it be going to see an ice hockey game (like me!) or visiting another part of the country that you’ve always wanted it see, try and make a list of all the things you want to do when you’re away! Not only will this get you excited, it will give you the opportunity to meet people with the same interests and will also help you stick with your budget if you can spread out activities evenly.
  6. Set yourself a reasonable work/play balance: Although there will be work and study involved in your exchange, you can’t forget that you’ve got a great opportunity to do some exploring and have some fun – so set yourself a good balance between work and play!
  7. Make the most of your host Universities facilities: The Uni you’re going to will probably have some great facilities for you to take advantage of – so make the most of them! My uni here in Canada has great gym facilities which I try to use as often as I can and they have a wonderful International Centre which is constantly hosting free events for international students, from free food to tickets to basketball games. So have a look at what your new Uni has to offer and get involved!
  8. Keep in touch with family and friends back home: This may seem like a given, but when you’re busy with uni work and constantly doing somersetting new, it can be easy to forget to stay in touch! Whether its over Skype or just simple messages, remember to check in occasionally to see how everyone is and let everyone know you’re doing OK. Your parents will thank you!
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask to join trips and activities: If you’re anything like me you might be a tad nervous about meeting new people and making a good group of friends. But don’t worry! Everyone will be in the same boat at some point. For me, it helped to just dive in head first and strike up conversations with people, suggest activities and not being afraid to ask to tag along. It may seem nerve-wracking at first but, like with me, it will help with confidence and it will all pay off.
  10. Say yes to everything! Want to go on a day trip? Sure! Want to try that new bar downtown? Why not! If there’s something new to do, you might as well try whilst you have the chance. For most people, exchange will be a once in a lifetime opportunity so make the most of it and enjoy yourself!
Top 10 Tips for Surviving Exchange

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