Have you suddenly found yourself as an exchange student in Radelaide, a foreign city with ridiculously sweltering temperatures, ready to start classes at a UniSA? Having trouble getting into the classes you wanted, or wondering how you’re going to make friends when everyone else already knows each other? Struggling to find out how to get to those bizarrely located Magill or Mawson Lakes campuses with Adelaide’s rubbish public transport system? Are you even starting to feel that you’ve made the wrong decision and it would have just been easier to stay at home?
Well, I’m here to tell you that no, you have not made the wrong decision to go on exchange, in fact you made the best decision you’ve made in your entire life. As I write this I’m one week into my exchange from UniSA to Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and while I may be suffering from -20oC temperatures rather than heatwaves, I know the hardships involved. However I also know that the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I know it can be helpful to hear some hints from people who have been through the same thing, so I have here for you three basic tips for surviving your first week as an exchange student. Take them for gospel.
HINT NUMBER ONE: Pull the ‘I’m an exchange student’ card at every single possibility. Every time you have a new class go up to the teacher afterwards, introduce yourself and then throw in the ‘Yeah I’m here on exchange from Taiwan’, chances are they’ll love it and tell you about the time they gave a guest lecture there or in contrast got pissed there for spring break. Not only will it make them aware that you’re new and not necessarily familiar with the program but it could even gain you some brownie points. In fact, feel free to write EXCHANGE STUDENT in big block letters up the top of all your assignments, chances are it will work.
HINT NUMBER TWO: Don’t shy away from a challenge. Often it’s difficult to get the perfect courses to fit into your program back home as every university structures their programs differently, but if you start one that may sit slightly out of your comfort zone that may not be the reason to drop it. I got into my first class for one of my courses and was told that within the first week I would be taking photos for the Ryerson student publication ‘Eye Opener’, a publication I had not seen a single issue of. However after a meeting with the Photo Editor and some flicks through of the last few issues I’m thinking this could be a great opportunity.
HINT NUMBER THREE: Never say no to anything. Chances are you’ve met some other exchange students by now, and let’s be honest, when you get a bunch of exchange students together they are likely to party one night, recover the next day, and then repeat the process to no end. If you are like me then you probably aren’t used to that at home. However, you must go. It’s a rule. Do not back out of any event while you’re away, whether it be a night out, an AFL game or a ski trip, which I guess is unlikely seeing as you chose Adelaide. Just never say no.
If you take these three hints on board then by the end of the first week you’ll have already met so many other people in the same position as you who are ready for all the tourist outings and alcoholism that you’d expect on exchange, AND you’ll be the teacher’s favourite student. What else could you want, seriously?