Exchange: To Do or Not to Do

Exchange: To Do or Not to Do

Exchange your life… or at the very least, exchange your waistline.

PROS:

  1. Your foreign accent automatically increases your attractiveness, and therefore, your odds of scoring. G’day mate – let’s go back to my place for some shrimp on the BBQ.
  2. From day one, you’re involuntarily friends with every other Exchange student.  Despite having come from all over the globe, from various facets of life, you all share one thing in common. There’s an unspoken family bond created between all foreigners, with no cliques or entry requirements into what is the most generous, loving international family you could ever ask for – some of whom you’ll be life long friends with. Upon returning home, you reflect on these “friendships” and realise for the majority of cases you have no idea about their family, childhood or favourite hobby. But you’ve shared enough shots, kegger parties, laughter, tears, hangovers and cheeseburgers together to ensure a spot on any one of their couches. It enables free accommodation all over the world and your very own local tour guide: better than any Lonely Planet guidebook.
  3. Only having to attain 50% on all university exams, meaning you can finally become that shit person who contributes absolutely nothing to group assignments. One friend of mine, who was doing her exchange in California, blatantly didn’t turn up to her group presentation because she was too high. Legit excuse. Whilst another friend managed to add, “Thank you for listening,” on her groups 15-minute oral presentation and walked out with a HD.
  4. American/Canadian schooling standards are drastically lower than Australia’s. This means you can still attain high grades, despite never attending class. If I managed 75% on an 8am nutrition exam after a night out at Oktoberfest and Burger King for breakfast, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
  5. There’s never a boring moment. There’s literally always someone who is keen to go on a weekend road-trip, party, eat, drink, shop or shit with you! Candidates for exercising and studying are harder to come by, albeit they do exist.
  6. Having a communal kitchen, on every floor of your apartment building means there’s always something to drunkenly devour at 5am. Surely the owners didn’t think you’d actually read the note plastered all over the delicious ice cream cake in the freezer or the pizza pockets in the fridge. It’s not your fault no one wanted to steal your tuna tins or  canned vegetables.

 

CONS:

  1. Putting on enough weight to confuse people as to whether or not you’ve come home with a fetus inside you. The term “exchange” was more fitting for the forcible swap of bikinis, g-strings and hot pants in my suitcase to more forgiving elastic waist bands, oversized jumpers and men’s apparel.
  2. Being pale enough to contract a vitamin D deficiency. In combination with con number 1, as a result your new nickname is now “Migaloo”.
  3. Becoming addicted to cheeseburgers. Being optimistic, at least it wasn’t heroin.
  4. Ruining your stomach lining because you “YOLO’D a little too hard. People may have mistaken your Kinesiology degree for a dual degree in Communications and Public Relations, majoring in Inebriation.
  5. Returning home with $90 to your name. Half of which will be spent on a doctor’s appointment to address con number 4.
  6. Damaging every dendrite that ever existed inside your brain. There are thoughts you may have left your brain overseas; however, there are problems conveying messages between neurons, so it’s yet to be confirmed.
  7. The most genius idea you had whilst being on exchange wasn’t for an assignment or during an exam. Rather, when you faked your date of birth purely to get a free Menchies Birthday Fro Yo!
  8. Your textbook that you never opened finally got sold for a small fortune ($90) on consignment; however, it is stuck in your offshore bank account.
  9. It’s nearly one year later and I’m still reminiscing on the former glory days, and one of the most memorable times of my 22 years I call life.

NOTE: I’ve never been good at Maths. There are more Cons than Pros in this article, which completely contradicts my overall experience and general outlook on exchange. Take home point – just fucking do it for yourself!