I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible exchange students throughout my time of living at university college. People from all over the world who have embarked on an epic adventure to study for six months or a year are lucky enough to spend their time in beautiful Wollongong. And whilst they’re from all over the world, from many different cultures, they all have one thing in common… an incredibly positive, spontaneous and adventurous outlook on life. And whilst I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made, I’ll always be grateful for showing me how to truly make the most of every opportunity. And here are some of the most admirable thing about Exchange Students.
They’re spontaneous. If you ask an exchange student what the did on the weekend, don’t expect your stock standard ‘aw, not much,’ because chances are, they actually did something awesome. ‘I went to Melbourne… road tripped up the coast… went camping in the Blue Mountains… went skydiving…’ Exchange students are always doing the unexpected, saying yes and have their bags pakced just in time to get on the next train to, well, anywhere. Their answers will leave you reconsidering your saturday night Sex & the City marathon.
They’re productive and balanced. When they’re not jetsetting around the country, they’re busy doing everything else the physically have time for. Playing sports (and trying new ones), being involved with clubs, going out every second Wednesday night, going hiking, surfing, swimming, exploring… And then on top of that, they get all of their assignments done. It must be the all rounded balance that they have in their lives which keeps them motivated and lifted, and this is one of the biggest traits that I’m trying to adopt myself.
They’re positive and optimistic. Maybe it’s because they’re free to reinvent themselves in a new country, but most exchange students tend not to dwell on the little problems that life throws at you. Instead, they’ll look at the bigger picture and think ‘hey, it’s not so bad, look at where I am, in a beautiful country with so many opportunities and I’m stressing out about a little essay.’ It’s such an beautiful outlook to have on life because it’s so easy to worry and worry and worry even more about all the little things. But instead, we should just take one big step back, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side.
They’re ridiculously friendly. You say hello and introduce yourself and next minute, you’re talking about travelling and your favourite country/city/food. They’re all open minded because they’ve travelled across the world to study and here to make friends.
(One of the bonuses) You’ll have a lounge to crash on in the future. Think of all the people you know from all of those countries around the world and all of the lounges that are just waiting to be slept on. Plus you’ll have a local tourguide to show your around. It’s a win-win situation.
They’re focused and driven. They’ve obviously got their shit together. They’ve organized a semester or two to study at another university (and as someone currently going through this process, it’s time consuming and difficult), plus accommodation, living expenses and travel plans to organise, as well as doing something which will positively contribute towards their degree and future… they’ve definitely got a bigger plan. It’s incredibly motivating because it’s something I also want to achieve and lucky for me, I have awesome people to show me how it’s done.
But the WORST thing about Exchange Students… Despite all these amazing qualities about all these incredible people, why do they love you then leave you?! You create an awesome friendship and even more awesome memories… and then they leave! So to all the wonderful exchange students out there, past present and future, if you could just fix one tiny little flaw for me, that’d be great… please don’t leave!
*Dedicated to all my incredible exchange friends here and across the world. Can’t wait to crash on your lounge some time soon.