Hello again! With a deadline of Jan. 22 quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to delve right into securing your semester abroad. Last time we dealt with the basic considerations you need to make before packing up and getting out of this frozen wasteland. This week we will look at the next steps in securing an exchange and why it is worth the time. Meet with your exchange rep Sending an email to your faculty exchange representative is your next step. These advisors are a fantastic resource and will help you decide where to go and help you get the exchange approved. Fill out the exchange app Once the exchange is approved we deal with the all-powerful “exchange application form.” At first I thought it wasn’t too bad; I filled it out, handed it in, and ta-da I was one step closer to traveling. Putting your personal information and exchange information isn’t too difficult as long as you have a general idea of who you are (hopefully you do) and where you’d like to go. The part that is confusing is the “Study Plan” section. This is where you need to list all the courses you want to take while abroad. This requires finding classes that can match with courses in Waterloo. If you have ever struggled to tell family and friends what exactly your major and courses are, then this will come back to haunt you now. It is your responsibility to find courses that match and then, here’s the tricky bit, get it approved. For every advisor that you have, whether it’s for your major, specialization, or language course, you need to send off your suggested courses to the appropriate advisor for their approval. See where I’m going with this? Lots of back and forth. This is why I fully suggest starting early to avoid the stress of time-sensitive email volleyball with advisors. Why it’s worth it By now, it’s starting to seem like a total chore. The reason I’m here isn’t to discourage you, it’s to help you along with the process and give you an idea of what it will entail. This is the part where I tell you that it is all for a good reason. This is setting you up for as seamless of an exchange as possible. It allows students to get Waterloo credits while in a new country, and most importantly this paperwork gives students the chance to experience another culture and school all while making their degree well-rounded and distinguished. Going abroad is an experience that a little bit of paperwork shouldn’t deter you away from. Once the paperwork is done, the fun part starts, which is deciding what to do in the mean time. So go ahead, print off the exchange application form and get going! I leave you this week with another question: What country do you most want to travel to? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.