Pre exchange: stressed, nervous, excited, did I mention nervous. Post exchange: do I really have to go home?
Studying abroad was always something I had wanted to do, and Edinburgh fulfilled everything I had dreamt of. From talking to friends who had been to Edinburgh, they had made it sound like the sun never came out, and that it was the coldest place on earth. So from the Australian summer, to the Scottish winter, I was mentally preparing myself for a shock. And true to form, after 28 hours of travel, I stepped out of the Edinburgh Airport to minus three degrees. However, to my surprise, the next morning the sun did actually come out, so I was more than happy. Within the first few hours of arriving, I had made friends, instantly finding my feet in the foreign country; I was excited to have a look around.
The first week, includes the climate and cultural differences and a huge shock to the sleeping pattern, but it was the most hectic week of them all. All the other exchange students are in the same position as you, making friends is easy, and staying in a college, meant that every morning and evening we would spend meals together, let along the full on schedule of orientation week events. Friendships formed very quickly, and some I know will be friends extending the exchange period. Being based in Edinburgh, just a short flight from London, travel was easy. In the semester breaks, and on long weekends, I along with my newly made friends would travel within Scotland and around Europe. We managed to travel to several European countries along with areas of Scotland outside of Edinburgh.
During the semester, I immersed myself in the sporting teams and societies available at the University. With Edinburgh being a very much student-orientated city, nights out were super fun and relatively cheap, which helped the bank account. Students at the university are just as excited about meeting the exchange students, as you are about meeting people for the other side of the world, which makes for very funny conversations and comparisons between countries. Feeling homesick is normal; some of my friends experienced it more than others, while I was too busy to even think about it. Your days are full of meeting new people, experiencing new things, seeing new cities and lots of laughs. The best thing about exchange is that the people you meet are often other exchange students, so they are feeling and experiencing the same things you are, you become a little family. After spring break, where everyone broke off into different groups depending on which countries they were wanting to travel too, we returned to the food hall where we were all so excited to see each other again, it was so great having a temporary ‘family’ to return to.
Time flies by so quickly, and before you know it the semester is over, and you are saying goodbye to friends you cant imagine life without. Exchange is an incredible experience, one that ill never forget and would not trade for anything. I would definitely recommend to any university student that is studying a course that allows a semester abroad. Particularly, for me, having been in the UK, a compulsory three-month Europe trip followed my exchange semester. 2015, definitely awesome year, one ill never forget.