Semester 2, 2017 Exchange to Canada
There are a lot of things to think about while preparing for exchange, looking back there are some things that I think I did really well and others that I wish I would have done better.
One of the most important things to think about when preparing is budget because this is often what determines how much you can travel and do the things you would like to. Before your exchange try to save as much as possible so that you can experience as much as possible! Ultimately I found that when deciding if I should spend money on various trips throughout the exchange I thought about where that money would be going if I didn’t spend it on the trip. If it is money that would just be spent on clothing, eating out or something similar then I took the view that it was worth spending it to visit another place. The experiences you get for your money are invaluable memories in the long run. When I was preparing I made an excel sheet on google drive so that I could list out all my expenses. Some things were estimated costs but usually you can find pretty good indications of the cost of living with some google searches. I always overestimated by a little as well so that I knew if anything went wrong or my estimates were off then I would be covered and money (hopefully) wouldn’t have to be taken out from somewhere else. The final tip for budgeting is to keep track of where your money is going. This is more so for travelling and not for the whole exchange. I used an app called TrabeePocket which lets you enter in all the costs you have in a day and shows you how much you spent on a trip. I found this useful because it helped me recognise what I was spending money on and where I could save money on future trips.
Preparing to leave family and friends is probably one of the hardest parts of exchange, especially if you have never lived out of home before. However, it really won’t be as bad as you expect. The time absolutely flies by as there is so much happening at uni and you can always be in contact with friends or family through Facebook, whatsapp or skype. If you are really missing your family set aside some time each week when you are both available to video call them. It will make you feel so much better after catching up on everything that’s happening at home if you’re feeling homesick.
The final tip I have for preparing for exchange is to not overpack! I have never been overseas before so I had nothing to compare this trip to. I tried to think about everything I would possibly need and then tried to fit it into my suitcase. Especially because I was away for six months I thought that meant I needed even more stuff but I really didn’t. You would be surprised at how much you just rotate through the same clothes and the rest get forgotten about. I limited myself to one suitcase and a backpack but I still managed to overpack. A lot of the things that I brought I barely used. Particularly shoes and these take up a lot of valuable space. This may sound obvious to seasoned travelers but for the naïve first timers try to make sure your suitcase has wiggle room in it. You don’t want to start off your journey with a full case because you no doubt will pick up extra stuff on your travels and you do not want to be travelling around a continent with unnecessary luggage.
Those are my main things to think about when getting ready for your exchange, Bon Voyage!