5 things I wish I knew before: Going on exchange
Going on exchange is already exciting enough: new country, new home, new people, and maybe even a new language. We all know that you will never get a second chance to make a first impression; for an exchange student in a new country this extremely important. As a host university, all you want is for your new internationals to feel welcome instantly. As an international student, all you want is for everything to go as smooth as possible when you are arriving. That is why it is so incredibly important to have everything arranged in advance. I guess we do not have to tell you, you would want to avoid certain issues such as having no transport, no food, or even worse… no bed. Read our five most common issues below to see how important a warm welcome is!
The way to my new home
After a seven-hour train ride to my new study destination, all I wanted to do was find my house, take a shower and have something to eat. But after arrival at the train station, I realised I did not know where to go – if only I was given directions to my new home. It took me more than an hour of walking around a deserted campus carrying six months of luggage with me. If only someone had sent me clear directions… Saying I was grumpy would be an understatement.
A warm welcome
You can imagine that after the long journey to my new study destination, all I wanted to do was find my house, take a shower and have something to eat. Arriving in my new home I realised there was no soap, no tea bags, nothing to eat at all and – sorry for oversharing – no toilet paper…
Arranging your bank account
A simple commodity like a bank account suddenly seemed a luxury only the lucky ones could acquire. Apparently, my passport was no longer sufficient to set up a bank account – I also needed a citizen number and address confirmation. Well, it would definitely have been nice to know this in advance, as it can take up to three months just to book an appointment at any governmental institution. Plus, those rent payments did not wait – they had to be made.
The grading system in any country is very straightforward. This of course, for a person who has been living in and with that same system for their entire life. However, for a person like me who quite literally has travelled the world to study abroad, it came as a surprise to find out that a 10 is no longer a 10, or that answering 70% of the test will not guarantee me a solid pass. The bottom line – Yes, grading is a very straightforward matter, once someone took their time to explain it (5 minutes was enough).
Travelling is one of the main reasons why I decided to continue my studies abroad. However, once I got to my dream country travelling didn’t end there. For starters, one of the first journeys I had to take was from the airport to my accommodation and it ended up being the longest and one of the most expensive “odysseys” in my life. It’s not until a couple of weeks, I have realised that travelling with a seasonal ticket is (a lot) cheaper. However, I had to order a personalised travel card. It took another week and a half to arrive. Needless to say – I wish I knew…
Curious to find out how you make social media work in your advantage? Read our previous blog on ‘5 things I wish I knew before: Posting on social media while job hunting’.
Monika Gervyte & Emma Cornelis
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