5 Things Exchange Students Wish People Understood

5 Things Exchange Students Wish People Understood

5 Things Exchange Students Wish People Understood
Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

Living abroad is one of the most freshening and exciting things a student will ever do in their life. It offers a new perspective, gives a completely different view on the world, and allows students the opportunity to completely rebuild themselves. While I've never met an exchange student who ever ended up regretting going abroad, I think I can speak for all of us when I say there are a few different things we wish non-study abroaders understood.

1. Many exchange students study culture not curriculum

One of the most brilliant perks of studying abroad is accomplishing complete cultural immersion. It allows students to fill their minds with all of the wonders of living in a new country. With completely different foods, social norms and (depending on where you go) no English proficiency, entirely immersing into the culture is the #1 priority for most exchange students to survive their exchange. Therefore, we often primarily go to day-to-day classes as a crucial part of engaging first hand with the culture. The process of becoming 100% comfortable with a new nation's culture and language is absolutely priceless and no grade could ever be substantial enough to account for the information exchange students obtain and process while abroad.

2. Yes, we want to talk about our exchanges

Living abroad in a cultural immersion program is one of the most extensive and challenging things a human being can do. Everything we have been raised to know and appreciate is challenged. All of the morals we are raised to abide by are no longer relevant. So, yes, we want to talk about what a challenging and extremely life-changing experience we had. There is so much hands-on research that goes into living abroad, and we as exchange students feel like our heads are going to explode if we don't share our experience with our friends and families.

3. No, we are not trying to brag

We get it, non-exchange students think we talk about our exchanges in an attempt to brag or make ourselves look cooler than we are. I promise, for the majority of us, that's not the case. Going through the process of an exchange program is often one of the most life-altering things any exchange student has ever done, so we want to talk about it because there are a plethora of things to talk about.

We get told to shut up about our exchanges more often than you'd expect, so if a returnee of an exchange program tries to tell you about his/her experience...just listen! You'll likely learn some amazing facts about a new country and you'll probably end up with crazy wanderlust and a burning desire to travel...effective immediately.

4. Exchange ≠ Extended vacation

Many people view exchanges as a quick and painless extended vacation. However, any participant of a study abroad program will tell you otherwise. While obviously studying abroad is an enjoyable experience, you don't really get to be a tourist when the whole point of living in your host country is to learn to fit into the culture as accurately as possible.

For me personally, my host country was Malaysia, which is notoriously known for being a very conservative country. I wasn't able to go to the beach in my bikini. I wasn't sippin' on margaritas in a condo with my gal pals while listening to Beyonce. I was going to school. I was learning a brand new language. I was learning about new Malay foods while trying to keep up with the fast-paced dinner conversation in a language I was learning on my own. I was definitely not on an extended vacation.

5. Our host countries are our homes

It is nearly impossible to not fall in love with your host country when you are studying abroad. Often times, non-exchange students will become confused when exchange students refer to their host countries as their other home. The reason we do this is because we immerse ourselves as much as possible into our host nations in order to be one with the country. We feel the pulse of the country, we learn its quirks. We figure out what facial expressions are considered unruly in that culture and we learn not to use them. We fall in love with the food. We fall in love with our host families.. our schools..our classmates..the sweet cashier at the food stand on the street across from our classroom.

We make life-long friends that helped us in ways we may never experience in again. Our host countries become our homes because you cannot study abroad and not fall in love with the heartbeat of the country that takes you in.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less

Whether you are quarantining away from your significant other because of coronavirus or separated by the country lines at this time, it's fair to say that long-distance relationships are tough no matter what. However, there are ways to show love from a distance whether that's through daily FaceTime calls, cute Snapchats, or sexy pics sent to them on their phone. You can brighten up their day even more with some of these unique gifts that can fit any price range and a variety of interests.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, no one needs to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. Frankly, this is because we have all collectively decided not to do the one simple thing that was asked of us and wear a mask.

I could make this a very boring article, and berate you with facts and statistics and the importance of wearing a mask, but I have opted against that for both of our sakes. Instead, I will attempt to reach you in another way. You might not care about a disapproving look from me, but from Nick Miller? Maybe that will be enough to change your mind.

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't want to point fingers or call anyone out, but it seems as though since the school year came to a close and summer officially started, more and more people began to care less and less about coronavirus (COVID-19).

I understand that eventually you have to get on with your life and cannot live in isolation forever, but people are still dying, cases are still increasing, and COVID is clearly not going anywhere for the time being.

Keep Reading... Show less

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Things That 'Shameless' Got Wrong About Bipolar Disorder

There is so much more than Ian and Monica lead viewers to believe.

"Shameless" is a hit television series that airs across the world, for my own personal viewing on Netflix. While the show is a major hit, people aren't talking about the issues in the portrayal in the "mental health" category. Ian and Monica are both pretty important characters with bipolar disorder (BD). There are, however, five major flaws with what their bipolar looks like.

Keep Reading... Show less

Dear Grandma,

I wish my words could adequately explain how much I miss seeing your smile and hearing your laugh. You were such a bright ray of sunshine in my life and now that you're gone, I can't help but remember all the times we had together.

Keep Reading... Show less

Bombshell news coming from Bachelor Nation today, Tayshia Adams is replacing Clare Crawley as the bachelorette!

Rumor has it that Clare found her person early on in the process and did not want to continue with the process of leading other men on throughout the season.

Keep Reading... Show less

- Though as a little girl, I had the silkiest, softest hair that would get compliments everywhere I went, since I turned about thirteen I've since had coarse, dry hair no amount of deep conditioning masks or sulfate-free shampoo could fix.

- I started using the Raincry's Condition Boar Bristle Brush several months ago, and while I noticed that my hair had been softer, silkier, and shinier than it had ever been, I didn't make the connection because I never thought a simple hairbrush could make any difference in my hair texture.

- I will be the first to admit that I thought it was ridiculous to spend nearly a hundred dollars on a hairbrush, but this one eliminates the need for me to use any heat tools or styling products on it.

- I put some oil or a serum in my hair when it's wet, brush my hair with the boar bristle brush once it's dry, and end up with the lowest maintenance, shiniest hair I've had since I was 8 years old.


Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments