Before investigating the exchange partners program I had not even considered taking my education overseas. Overawed by the process involved, I had confined my travels and international experiences to holidays. But following a recommendation from a senior student, I began to seek information on what opportunities are offered. It wasn’t long until I found myself on a plane bound for the other side of the world, about to start a semester of eye-opening experiences.
By choosing Denmark (Danish Technical University), I was heading for a land that posed many changes, both positive and negative as compared to Australia. From the moment I arrived it was apparent that the culture was different; from the crazy language to the efficient public transport. Aided by the information that had already been given by the program and both universities, it wasn’t long before I had found my way and was making new friends.
The host university was very experienced at welcoming and including its exchange students, and made it very easy to get used to the new surroundings. In order to help us get comfortable they had organised small groups of exchange students paired with a senior student at the university, such that any questions we had could be answered by someone right away. As well as this, an “orientation week” was compulsory for the first week, ensuring that each student knew their way around the university well before their first class, and also had some friends and peers in the country before study had started. During this week the emphasis was purely on gaining familiarity and to get a fun start to our time in the country. They helped organise city tours and various activities, making it a great way to begin the exchange.
Once study had begun it was still very much a different experience to back home. While my courses were in similar fields to what I undertook in Adelaide, the method of teaching, assessment tasks, work partners and much more all varied to what I had been used to. By choosing to embrace these differences (and not be afraid of them!), I found it a hugely enlightening period of study. By working with people from various European countries, and learning from their various working methods and standards, I found I was able to grow as a student and a communicator.
Outside of study, an exchange period can give many benefits to studying within Australia. By choosing to locate myself within Europe I quickly found that various trips were organised by the exchange organisation. I would strongly recommend taking advantage of such trips, as my time spent travelling to places such as England, Germany and Poland gave me some memories I will never forget. These opportunities are made very easy through this exchange program, and are highly flexible depending on your studies.
Having spent a semester of my degree on exchange I could not recommend it enough to anyone who has the chance to do as I did. It is a great opportunity to meet some wonderful people and gain a lifetime experience while still continuing with studies.