Beating The Overwhelming Stress Of Organizing Exchange
Too many times I have spoken to people that have said something along the lines of, “I wanted to go on an exchange but it’s just too hard to organize.” Or even, “I got accepted for exchange but backed out because it got too overwhelming.”
I gather this is quite a common issue; these thoughts might even sound familiar. But I can’t tell you enough how much it honestly pains me to hear this because what these people don’t realize is that they are missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime.
Sure, it’s a long process, things go wrong and you’ll need some courage and support; but I promise you, if you keep pushing through it is completely and utterly worth it!
The process often involves variations of applying for initial acceptance; picking your host university; picking your subjects and getting them approved; applying separately to your host university, and attending many meetings to help get you organised. While on the side, you’ll probably have to organize your accommodation, flights and any other travel plans yourself. This can all be A LOT to handle on top of the current workload you probably already have.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry you’re not alone!
Here is some advice to help get you through it:
Remember: you will usually need to apply for an exchange program about a year in advance; but firstly, make sure that your course allows you to partake in a semester abroad. Speak to an academic adviser to see which modules would be best for you to do overseas before making any decisions.
You will also need to do research into the universities on offer to make sure you’re choosing one that offers subjects to fit in with your course. For instance, certain core subjects can usually only be completed abroad if there is an equivalent subject offered. However, this will still need approval, which can often be hard to get.
If you have the option, plan ahead so you can complete core subjects at your home university and leave your electives for when you plan to study abroad, as they are more likely to get approved.
Prioritize your tasks.
Often what makes you overwhelmed is thinking about all the things you have to do, but if you prioritize it allows you to focus on only one thing at a time. Due dates are often seen as the enemy but they can also be your friend. Make a list to work out which tasks need to be done first and simply get them out of the way before thinking about the next one. This is useful to balance your current workload alongside organizing exchange and you’ll feel more accomplished when you can tick off each task.
Fight for your exchange.
Of course, I don’t mean physical fight, but you have to seriously want this because it takes a fair bit of persistence. I, for one, had to hassle tutors to write references for me despite the fact that they barely knew me; as well as constantly send emails to my host university about subjects as they had enrolled me into the wrong ones; and not to mention all the forms to fill out.
See what I mean? You will need to be persistent, although hopefully, you won’t come across as many issues as I did.
Keep your eye on the prize.
Just when your stress levels reach their peak; remember why you’re doing this! Shall I remind you: it’s an amazing opportunity in which you will meet so many new friends, learn so much about other cultures, become independent, have the opportunity to travel, and the chance to do subjects that may not be offered at your home university. Plus it will look great on your resume.
If you can constantly remind yourself that it will be worth all the effort you’ll find yourself motivated to keep pushing through the process. I recommend starting a countdown because you really do have some exciting adventures to come!