So You’re Nominated for Exchange…
HSE offers a huge number of educational programmes, training areas and specialisations. However, not many students know that HSE cooperates with the world's best universities that offer students unique opportunities for international mobility, and one of which I am currently doing. Based on my personal experience, believe me, if you are lucky to be among the nominees, then do not doubt at all and forget about fears. Now I will dispel them and maybe you will become more confident. If you have not applied and decided to have a look at this article for the sake of interest, then perhaps it will encourage you to apply for international mobility that can dramatically change you and your life.
How not to become an outsider?
Based on my own example, I can ensure you that the biggest fear is loneliness and the fear of not finding soulmates. Besides, it seemed to me that the exchange is not so popular and there will be few students like me at partner university. But it turned out that in the West the practice of international exchange is highly popular. For instance, there are about 10% of affiliates at UCL (London, UK), which is a lot. I mean, you can always talk to someone who is studying just like you. Nevertheless, full-time students are very friendly and ready to help. And the universities themselves organise orientation week and various events that help you integrate into the local community. And various activities and societies will not leave you aside as well as will not give free time to be frustrated and feel lonely.
How not to overdo it with study and not turn into a bookworm?
At first it seems that the exchange is very difficult and will have several times harder to learn without getting out of the library. But I can make you sure that everything depends on how you allocate your workload. The most appropriate option may be the habit to do all assignments at once and on time, not to postpone things and not to think that the more you read on the topic, the smarter you will become, as from the huge flows of information the brain already ceases to perceive information. I adhere to the following rule: it is better less, but more qualitatively.
How to start immersing yourself in a new culture and stop being homesick?
Honestly, culture shock is inevitable but its influence can be minimised as I did with the following small hints. Firstly, it is worth seeing a list of various events that take place in the city where you make the exchange. Wherever you are, you will always find something interesting that matches your taste. Secondly, it may sound banal but the studying local attractions and sights is the best way to immerse yourself in unfamiliar culture and learn more about local traditions. Try to make new acquaintances. It is important to meet native-speakers who will show you their culture from its hidden side.
Of course, you will miss your home anyway. The most important thing is not to try to take aside from your family but to stay always in touch with it and share your feelings, experience or even worries. Then, there are two completely opposite ways out. The first is to become a part of your community (in my case, Russian one) and maintain basic ties with your fellow citizens as it will remind you of your homeland and help you miss it less.
The second option is to try to feel the native spirit and make yourself be “a citizen of the world”. It means that your social circle will be completely multinational, you will learn the culture not only of the host country but also the culture of other foreigners who study with you. The flow of various connections and events will twist you so that you will not only strengthen the love for your family but also find new friends from around the world.
How to make the exchange memorable and avoid sad impressions?
Here, the most important thing to remember is that an exchange can be made memorable not only in a non-standard/illegal way, but also within the framework of all norms and regulations. So:
- Don’t break rules,
- Don’t hesitate being yourself,
- Don’t seat in your room or in the library 24/7,
- Don’t let sad thoughts prevail over you;
- Do hang outs with your mates,
- Do explore everything you may be interested in,
- Do communicate with others,
- Do try something new you might have been afraid of before.
How can sharing be a project that will turn your life around?
It is impossible to answer this question precisely because everything is extremely individual. But the most important thing is that you will find yourself in a completely different environment, you will live in another country and with other people, learn the features of education in that country and gain a sophisticated view of the world. That is, you will have what and what to compare later. Accordingly, your horizons will expand and the choice for the future will become wider.
You might feel that you want to develop in a different direction or, vice versa, become even more confident in your choice of the future. Do not forget to try to engage in different long-lasting projects that can open up new career prospects for you.
If you have submitted an application for the exchange, you have been nominated, your partner university has approved it and sent you an invitation, then do not hesitate at all and grab this opportunity. Also, no matter how hard it is at the beginning of an unfamiliar path, keep going and do believe in your dream, which has already started off to come true.