I never thought I’d get the opportunity to travel while I studied, I always gave myself so many reasons not to – too expensive, too stressful, will take time out of my study etc. so during my first year I didn’t even think about travelling. However, when I got the email about a semester exchange to India it just felt so right that I decided then and there that I was going. Obviously I had to apply and be accepted for the exchange, and then sort out everything else that went along with it but once I decided I was going, that was it. It just felt like something I had to do.
So I sent back the email saying I’m interested in the exchange and tried to put it out of my mind. Told myself to study and not think about it, (not that that helped because I still thought about it 24/7). After a surprisingly short process, I was accepted and was so ridiculously thrilled; I danced around my room for a solid 5 minutes.
Organising everything was super stressful because while I was organising everything to do with my exchange, e.g. my visa, scholarships, travel insurance, flights, moving out of the house I’m renting etc. I was also trying to study for my exams at the same time! I was lucky enough to receive a $3000 Scholarship which I’m extremely grateful for, but I also opted to receive the OS-HELP loan that the university also offers.
There was A LOT of back and forth with the visa office trying to organise a visa so my advice to anyone doing an exchange is to do your visa first and as soon as possible! It started getting really close and I was still pretty unorganised, (didn’t buy my ticket until the week before I was supposed to be leaving – oops!) I started to get random anxious moments about the whole trip. It’s for 6 months, in a whole different country, and I’d never been outside of Australia/New Zealand. I told myself I’m crazy for doing this. But despite the panicking, and the stressing and the lack of organisation, I’m now writing this blog sitting in the airport of Kuala Lumpur. Its 6:40am, I’ve been flying all night and I honestly could not be happier.
This is the most exciting and scary thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m so excited about all the possibilities and opportunities that this trip will bring!
Grace Villani, a Bachelor of Medical Science student, Semester 2 2016 exchange at Manipal University, India