A student exchange program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which transforms your academic future. It makes you self-reliant and enhances the prospects of your employability
Participating in a student exchange program brings a comprehensive change in one’s life. It is a challenging, liberating, fun and incredibly rewarding adventure to be on an international exchange program in Europe. You get a myriad of opportunities to learn and evolve personally as well as professionally.
I had always aspired to be a part of an international student exchange program since the day I joined MBA Logistics and Supply Chain Management at UPES in 2018. When I got the opportunity in September 2019, I chose the University of Maribor, Slovenia, because of its special courses. Slovenia is situated almost at the centre of Europe and touches upon the borders of four European countries: Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary.
Here are the 6 ways a student exchange program can add value to your life:
1. It boosts your confidence
I had always been a protected child, hence, never did anything adventurous. So, to gain the confidence I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. During the exchange program, I learned a lot – starting from managing international travel to lodging/boarding in an alien country. This made me self-reliant and helped me gain the ability to confront changing environments around me. I learnt to overcome new challenges.
2. You get to meet new people
During this exchange program, I met students from 43 different nationalities with totally different cultural, educational and financial backgrounds. I never restricted myself to only one group and made new friends, who, in the later stage of the program, helped me whenever I was in need. Their endless energy inspired me to try different activities.
3. Opportunity to travel and explore
The best part of studying in Europe is you get borderless travel options within 44 countries of the European Union. I received coupons from my host university, which enabled me to book tickets for travel and stay in countries with discounted prices so that I could save more and travel more. I went to 20 famous and some unseen cities in 11 different countries of the continent. For me, this was an achievement.
4. Chance to learn new languages
In Slovenia, very few people could talk in English and usually spoke the Slovene language. Therefore, I had to learn the basics of their language to be able to connect effectively. My roommate was Turkish, so he also taught me his native language. In the welcome week, we had an event called ‘Polyglot’, where we had a group of five people and we had to converse, but not in English. There, I learned some phrases of French, Dutch, Spanish and German.
5. Exposure to global cuisines
During this exchange program, I tried a lot of European dishes. As eating bread daily was a challenge, so I tried my hands at cooking as well. While travelling to nearby countries, I made sure to relish their sweet dishes and local specialities. There was an event called ‘International Dinner’ in our welcome week, where everyone made something from their mothers’ cookbook. I tried almost 20 different dishes for the first time. Since I was staying in a dorm, where every floor had a common kitchen, we all used to cook together.
6. Enhances your employability
A mention about exchange programs in your CV increases your employability factor. Recruiters are aware of how such programs groom an individual and are a reflection of the candidate’s qualities such as confidence, leadership, risk-taking ability and sustainability. This shows that you are open to new experiences and you can adapt to any situation.
The student exchange program was an incredible and memorable experience. I am glad that I got this opportunity that helped shape my future. If you too get an option like this, do not miss it.
(The writer is an alumnus of MBA Logistics and Supply Chain Management UPES, School of Business.)
Also read: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity