Inbound students Study Abroad and Exchange at the University of Melbourne
Exchange in Semester 2, 2005
Bachelor of Commerce and Diploma of Modern Languages (Spanish)
I did an exchange in 2001 in Argentina after I finished high school, for a year before I entered university. Since then I have always wanted to do a second exchange, as I can promise anyone who asks me that there is nothing better than overseas student exchanges.
I originally wanted to go to Italy, to Luigi Bocconi University to study the Commerce part of my degree, and to learn Italian (as it is very similar to Spanish). In the end I couldn't because I did not have enough points left in my Commerce degree. Luckily Melbourne Global Mobility were very astute and told me about a new agreement they had in Chile - I would be the first student from Melbourne to go and I could do Commerce and my Spanish for my DML, meaning I would still take a full load. The School of Languages gave me a scholarship to study overseas, which was very helpful.
The experience has been fantastic, not only in studying in another university system (which is very different to Melbourne Uni) but also studying in another language. I have made lots of Chilean friends and even more friends from other countries who have come here. The location has been great, and there is nothing better than finishing uni for the week then going across the road to the beach for a few hours, then out to a pub, later to a disco on the beach, and then the next day back to the beach again.
It has been so much fun to do this for six months, and the great thing is that I believe it also helps your chances of employment later on. It shows independence, shows you are not scared to go it alone without your parents or your friends to back you up. It shows you can face the challenge of reading texts in another language, or trying to buy a good shampoo or steak when the supermarkets are not the ones you are used to at home.
Not everything has been easy though - you have to try to make friends and have enough energy to go out and socialise a lot, otherwise you will be left behind as someone who doesn't "try" to socialise with the other exchange students/locals. Be sure that subjects are in order for back at home as I had a few problems with communication errors in getting subjects approved, and have someone responsible to check through your mail at home is a good idea. Have enough money saved up, and if possible as a last resort a back up source on hand (parents or a "rainy day" savings account, for example); the last thing you want is not to be able to travel with your friends because you don't have enough money.
It is sad that not everyone can or wants to do an exchange during uni - I say get that second job, save your money and go.