You know what they say about traveling: It opens your eyes. Well, does it?
The short answer: Yes.
The long answer? Well, you think you know things. Things like, Europe is ‘classy,’ South America is ‘hot.’ But nothing can compare to finding out for yourself, taking a step forward and embracing a true change in environment.
I went on exchange during the winter term of 2017 to Paris, France. My time as an exchange student brought me many experiences, taking me to new places and having me meet interesting people who I probably would not get to know had I stayed in the same place.
I spent my first reading week in the UK and Ireland, traveling to London, Edinburgh and Dublin. I also traveled within France to places like Cannes, and several cities in Spain. My second break from school had me go on a plane to Vienna.
It is a universal truth that when you go on exchange almost anywhere outside of Canada, you will find that traveling is accessible and cheap compared to trying to get a flight on Air Canada.
Though I have travelled to Europe before, actually living there allowed me to experience a new place like a local would.
Finding personal favourite cafés and getting used to navigating the extensive Paris metro system is still something that leaves a smile on my face even today. From the point of view of learning, going on exchange is especially valuable if you are trying to learn a new language. With a minor in French, my time spent studying at the Sorbonne truly completed my education from both the cultural and language aspects.
Are you not sure where to go? You should know that there are many great exchange students here at the University of Waterloo from all over the world who have their own stories of different places to share.
So, I’m telling you to throw away your doubts, save a little money, and go! It is a totally unique experience you have available to you as a student. I promise you, you will come back with a totally new perspective — a global perspective — on the world around you, which will continue to serve you for the rest of your life.