While no one wants to be that friend who jumps on a “when I was on exchange” anecdote at every chance, there are definitely some vital life lessons that come from spending an entire year in unfamiliar territory.
Europeans have this down pat. In 1987, they kicked off the Erasmus program, working with a multi-billion-dollar budget to offer uni students grants and encourage exchange. The Erasmus Program has created a culture that makes it less special to do exchange as part of your degree – rather, it’s weird if you don’t. Here’s why we should follow suit.
There’s No Easier Way To Learn Another Language
Right now, in Australia, there are calls to push bilingualism in high schools. It not only gives you an edge on the employability scale, but research shows knowing a second language can also enhance cognitive skills, from empathy to memory.
If you’re lazy, THIS IS PERFECT FOR YOU. Netflix in bed is not going to help you order a beer, or see a doctor urgently (the probability of these naturally tripling on exchange). You’re just going to have to do your homework.
It Forces You To Be An Adult
No, you can’t just drive your wet laundry over to your parent’s house to use their dryer. I mean, who does that anyway? *uneasy laugh*
Living out of home a short train/plane ride’s distance away is one thing, but having only yourself to fall back on is a whole other. There are no cute little reminders to do your tax or vote – and if there are, they’ll be at 3am. If you are a strictly co-dependant type, you’ll have cute new foreign friends to turn to.