To go on exchange or not to go on exchange

Dublin, Ireland

Montreal is an amazing city so it could seem a bit extra to go spend a semester or a year elsewhere… but the benefits of going on exchange are pretty endless. If you have the opportunity to live, study, and make friends in another country, you should definitely do it. Now is the time.

McGill has relationships with so many schools across the world. Often, you can make arrangements to study abroad to most any school of your choice. However, specifically with exchange, you avoid paying those international tuition fees and you continue to pay your same tuition to McGill.

Explore any opportunities for scholarships, and plan to work the summer leading up to exchange to save up. Depending on your budget, that may eliminate some locations due to cost of living, like London, but the flights can be so so cheap once you get over there (bless Ryanair).

If you’re at all on the fence about going on exchange, here are my responses to some common objections.

1. I’m shipping off to a foreign country and I won’t know anyone

London, England

Part of the beauty of going on exchange is that you won’t know anyone. You still have the structure of a school environment but you can really push yourself out of your comfort zone. In my experience, my residence was teeming with American, Canadian and Australian students. Chances are you’ll meet some people that remind you of home. At the same time, you have nothing to lose! Being somewhere new gives you the chance to start fresh and see what you find out about yourself through connecting with new, different people. You need to challenge yourself to have the chance to grow.

2. I’m happy here and I can just travel after I graduate

You may travel after you graduate… or you may not. And your friends will all be here when you get back, you can stay in touch. Look, your life might take off after graduation. Which is great, but once you start a steady job, it’s more difficult to take extended periods of time off for a while. Of course, this all depends on your personality. If travelling and exploring is a priority for you and you know you’ll make it happen post-grad, then maybe exchange isn’t the best for you. You might want even more freedom to roam and go off-grid after graduation without any responsibilities of school.

Copenhagen

Malta

3. Safety

In the world we live in, people are increasingly worried about safety. What I would say to this is to remind yourself that given the accessibility of news, we hear a lot about negative incidents. They’re plastered across headlines, social media, and flashing across television screens. You should always be aware of your surroundings, yes, but it’s not worth living your whole life paranoid. Only so much is within your control. We take risks everyday when we get in a car or walk out onto the sidewalk, but you can’t live your life simply avoiding risks, you just want to take calculated risks.

If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to go on exchange, don’t let one of these objections hold you back!

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