7 Reasons to go on an Exchange!

By Makda Mulatu

Did you know that the U of A has more than 250 education abroad programs in over 50 countries? With so many great options to choose from, finding your perfect program can be a little overwhelming. Never fear, Education Abroad is here! Although there are plenty of reasons to go abroad, here are 7 reasons why you - yes, you! - should participate in an academic exchange as part of your degree.

  1. When it comes to tuition, you pay what you would at home.

    At first glance, going on exchange seems like a pretty pricey endeavor. But, if you take a second look, you'll find that the numbers really don't have to break the bank. Why? When you decide to go on exchange at one of our partner institutions, you pay the same amount in tuition that you would here at the U of A. You heard me: The. Same. Amount. Combine that with the $1 million in funding available to students studying and working abroad and you can start spending your money on things that really matter (like that authentic Tuscan cooking class you've been eyeing).
  2. Enrol in U of A equivalent courses.

    Worried about what classes you can or should take while abroad? You can choose courses at your host institution the same way you would at the U of A! The classes you take while abroad can be used to satisfy a specific course equivalency or a general degree requirement, maximizing your ability to receive credit. Some faculties will even be able to provide you with a list of pre-approved courses offered at your host institution - talk about stress-free scheduling!

  3. Get to know your host city.

    Going on exchange is an awesome choice for those who want to get up close and personal with the people, places and things that exist in their host city. Exchanges guarantee that you'll be in a place for an extended period of time; this gives you the opportunity to uncover some of your city's hidden gems (like your soon-to-be favourite vegan cafe). Be an explorer in your new home, we promise it will change your view.

  4. Pursue more opportunities to travel.

    The other benefit of having more time in a place? More days off! The vast majority of exchange students do not spend every day in class, giving them the chance to spend some of their long weekends hopping over to neighbouring cities or countries for a mini getaway. Most of our exchange locations are just a short bus, train, or plane ride away from other great destinations. Plus, if your exchange falls during a low travel season, you'll be able to splurge on all those extra trips at a fraction of the normal cost.
  5. Develop a greater sense of independence.

    Is there really a better way to test your independence than by living on your own in a foreign country? Going on exchange is one big exercise in self-sufficiency. Although this is understandably daunting (how do you open a Chinese bank account anyway …?), the challenges associated with living away from home will help hone your confidence and put those problem-solving skills to good use.
  6. Set your own pace.

    Staying in your host city for months rather than weeks gives you the chance to take things nice and slow when planning your trip itinerary. Don't get me wrong, if hitting up the top 10 art galleries in Berlin in 72 hours sounds like fun, go for it … buuuuut if a lazy afternoon walk to the bookstore across the street from your apartment is more your speed, that's cool too. Going on exchange gives you the freedom to choose your own adventure!
  7. Improve your second (or third, or fourth) language skills.

    There's nothing like immersion to increase your competency in another language. Going on exchange gives you endless opportunities to practice using the language of your host city every single day. You'll learn how to ask for directions, how to order at a restaurant, how to flirt with the cute guitarist busking on your street … you know, the essentials! Plus, making an effort to speak in the native tongue will always go a long way with the locals you encounter during your travels.