Handy hints from former students

Are you curious about student exchange in the UK or Ireland, but not sure what to expect?

Whether you’re worried about making friends, or simply wondering the best ways to go about daily life while on exchange, there’s no-one who knows better than people who have experienced it themselves.

Here’s some advice from our students to help prepare you for your exchange.

Hint 1 – Making friends by being brave
Alina, who stayed in Ireland, admitted that at first, she found it tough to make friends whilst on exchange. Her solution was simple – she advises to take the first step: “be outgoing and not afraid to talk to people”. She said from doing this, “I think I developed my personality. I’m more confident and outgoing”.

But how do you take the first step? Stefanie suggests, “If other students aren’t introducing themselves, go to them and ask them what their name is or start somehow a conversation.” Another conversation starter is to ask about something that you might have common ground on, or even simply how their day is going. Small talk can be a great low-pressure way of practicing your English skills.

Sharing something interesting about your home country, and in turn asking about the country you are staying in, is another good way to get the conversation going as an exchange student.

“Whatever you want to do, even if it's frightening or uncomfortable, go for it! You will always learn and grow from it. DARE and COMMUNICATE”!

Hint 2 – Keeping an open mind
Wim says his biggest challenge was breaking out of his shell. His method for helping him overcome this? “Take every single opportunity even if you don’t think that it’d be for you. The things you didn’t like you’ll forget about, but the good things will stick with you forever.”

Trying things that are new or different from what you’re used to can be hard, but having a go at them is the only way you’ll ever truly know if you enjoy them. By trying new things, Wim says his best experience of the exchange was “seeing myself evolve and making all the friends I did”.

Keeping an open mind isn’t only good for personal growth – it also helps make your stay more fun! Mareike suggests, “Try as many new things as possible! Your time is limited so try to enjoy every second.” Make the most of what your exchange has to offer in the time that you have, as this opportunity may be once-in-a-lifetime!

While you should utilise your time as best you can to make the most of your exchange, it’s also a good idea to not put too much pressure on yourself or your experience – sometimes it’s good to go with the flow. Adeline says, “take everything at your pace and how it comes, don’t have any previous expectations.”

Hint 3 – Talking with your LSC and asking for help
It is vital to InterStudies that you feel supported. Many students recommend keeping an open line of communication with your Local Support Coordinator (LSC), to allow them to best support you.

Eva explains that if you have a problem, “go talk about it and don’t just keep quiet because you don’t want to create any discomfort or stress.” She recognises that an important part of exchange is that “you should definitely try [to resolve issues] as some things can get better after some time”, but that keeping your LSC or our support team informed if there’s an issue you don’t know how to resolve can make all the difference.

“I really had a great time and learned so much about myself”, Eva says about the programme. “I don’t regret it a single bit and I don’t regret any experience I’ve made no matter whether it was a positive or a negative one as I learned something from all of them.”

In conclusion…

Ella from our Irish programme summarises all three of these hints perfectly.  

“Whatever you want to do, even if it’s frightening or uncomfortable, go for it!  You will always learn and grow from it. DARE and COMMUNICATE”!  

This kind of bravery and open-mindedness is the best attitude you can have on exchange.  And whether you are communicating through talking to your peers to make friends, or sharing your feelings and struggles effectively with those around you who can offer support, communication is key to ensuring you to have a great stay.  

Following her own advice allowed the best part of Ella’s experience to be the people she met. “I’m going to miss them enormously”, she says.  “It was the best year of my life!”

We hope you think these students’ hints are as helpful as we do.  And just like Ella, and all the past students who talked to us, we hope you have a fantastic stay too! 


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