1. Never take things for granted
Apart from your family and friends, and other obvious things that you know that you will miss, when you find yourself across the globe among complete strangers, you start to miss the smallest things. Having my coffee ready in the morning, having your clothes washed, having someone always there for you are just some things on the list. It may be a cliche, but you will realize that it is simply a universal truth that you should enjoy the little things.
2. There are incredibly different perspectives in the world
However different your perspective may be to the perspectives of the people around you, you can’t even fathom how different the perspective of the people across the world from you are. By communicating with them, you get to know various viewpoints that never even crossed your mind for different reasons such as, for example, irrelevance of a certain idea to their culture. Engage with these perspectives and appreciate the personal growth that you will experience.
3. You will change, things back home won’t
Before I started my foreign exchange program, one of my worries was that I would lose contact with my friends and find myself on my own when I get back home. You know what happened? Time, almost literally, I swear, flew, and I found myself right where I left off. I was a changed person, but the world that I knew before, not at all. Enjoy yourself, don’t let the fear of missing out get in the way.
4. You aren’t a traitor if you assimilate
A lot of other exchange students that I knew felt like they were almost betraying their domestic culture if they were to do something typical of their host culture. In the era of globalization, you have to be multicultural, you have to be able to adapt to new cultures, and the biggest benefit of this kind of cultural exchange program is that it enables you to do just that. Take advantage of it.
5. You will become independent easily, just because you have to
In a study abroad program, you are put into a situation where you have no other choice but to be independent. I know, it sounds scary, almost unachievable, but when you are faced with filling out the application forms (and there always seems to be another one), when you have to sort out the legal stuff, when you find yourself in an unknown country across the world from home among complete strangers of a different culture and with different habits, your survival instincts kick in. Next thing you know, you are your own person capable of taking care of yourself.
These would be the lessons that I deemed the most important, but they are certainly not the only lessons that I have learned. What about you? What did you learn from your experience? Or if you are yet to have a foreign exchange student experience, what are you expectations?