Ah, the exchange programme: if you’re an undergraduate, you’ll definitely have heard of it. 6 to 12 months of living abroad, coupled with opportunities to travel the world? It sounds like a dream come true to me but if you need any more reasons to convince you to sign up for the programme, well, here are 5.
Become a Polyglot
Polyglot: someone who is able to speak or write several languages (multilingual). As a typical Singaporean undergraduate, chances would be that you are bilingual – proficient in both English and a Mother Tongue language.
When you find yourself on an exchange programme, however, you’ll sometimes find out that speaking only two languages can sometimes be rather limiting – you might not be able to get the authentic, local experience of a particular country. An essential step to take in order to fully understand a foreign country would be to learn its language.
While picking up an entirely new language might seem intimidating and impossible at first, you’ll realise that simply being immersed in an environment where the language is spoken everyday will aid in your language acquisition. Who knows, you might return back to Singapore with a few more languages than you knew on the outbound flight!
TLDR; Living in foreign country will push your language learning limits – try picking up the native tongue of whichever country you’ll be going. We highly recommend Duolingo as a starting point. And then you can say “I’m a polyglot!”
Learn to Fend For Yourself
Behind all that glamour and glitz of getting to travel around in a foreign country, going on an exchange programme will instil a deep sense of independence within your character. Your parents can no longer serve as your morning alarm clock, nor provide for your meals physically.
Psst: you’ll also have to wash all those dirty dishes accumulated in the sink yourself – unless you have an angelic room mate who wouldn’t mind doing the dishes for you, but the chances of that happening would be slim. While the initial period of living without your parents may be unsettling and scary, you’ll slowly realise that this experience is only beneficial to you.
You will not be spending all your life living with and depending on your parents, right?
TLDR; Going on exchange might be the first time you’re leaving your parents’ nest. You’ll have to deal with all aspects of #adulting – eg. washing your own laundry, cooking and cleaning your apartment. Youtube’s your friend when it comes to the above. 😉
Experience a New Culture
Did you know that you are allowed to smoke in air-conditioned restaurants in China? Well, I had absolutely no knowledge of that when I first visited Beijing last year, so imagine my surprise and shock when a man fished for a lighter in his pockets to light his cigarettes in an upscale eatery. If that had happened in Singapore, well, that man would have left with a very hefty fine indeed. It’s always interesting to find out about another country’s culture – the way the locals think, speak and behave.
Other than aiding in your assimilation process as an exchange student, I believe that the knowledge will also help you in the future; for example, if you should have any international business dealings in the future for your career.
TLDR; Get out of your comfortable Singapore bubble and see how things are done differently in another country. And, you might want to read up on the cultural norms of the country you’re staying in so that you wouldn’t commit cultural faux pas. 😂
Expand Your Social Circle
As an exchange student in a foreign country, you’ll be exposed to many other students like yourself who helm from different parts of the world. When on exchange, many beautiful friendships will blossom and you’ll find yourself returning back home to Singapore with plentiful, new friends whom you’ll likely stay in contact with even after the program. And who knows? You might meet the person of your dreams while abroad!
TLDR; Yay to having friends all over the world!
Travel to More than 10 Cities in 1 Semester
The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page.
– Augustine of Hippo
No matter which country you head to for an exchange programme, you can rest assured that you’ll be exposed to many travelling opportunities. If you don’t believe me, just scroll through your Instagram feed: there’ll definitely be tons of your lucky friends’ pictures who are currently on exchange and seem to be in many different places around the world at the same time – the Eiffel tower in one and the Colosseum the next.
Well, there’s no need to be all consumed with jealousy and turn into a green-eyed monster because you can conquer the globe when you partake in an exchange programme of your own!
Trust me, there’s no better time to travel than now; as an undergraduate. You’re armed with youthfulness and energy – two of the most important ingredients in cooking up an adventure.
Well, you might be lacking a little in the third (money) but there are plenty of university financial schemes available to help. So, what could you possibly be waiting for? Start applying for your exchange program now!
TLDR; Many undergrads say exchange was the best time of their uni lives. At Glints, we’ve had a blast on exchange, and we highly encourage you to go on your adventure. Explore loads and go beyond the touristy places.