What I’ve gained during my time on exchange at Flinders University
It would be impossible to compress everything I’ve gained from my time here into one post. It was around this time last year that I applied for a place on my home institution’s study aboard programme. When I applied I didn’t think it would make much of a difference to my life. I’d go aboard for a few months, get some selfies with Koalas, and then fly back to my normal life as if nothing had happened. Now, I know how wrong I was. I’ve gained so much over my time here. I’ve learned how to work harder, and I’m more confident and independent than I was before I arrived. That was the real surprise as I wouldn’t have said I was a shy person previously or that I was dependent on others. Still, I find myself able to talk to people more easily than before and deal with things I once would have struggled.
What I’ve gained academically
Of course, I’ve learned a lot academically over my time at Flinders. Studying aboard has made me a better learner, taught me to work harder and allowed me to explore subjects not available at home. Adjusting to a different academic system was tricky. Although my course was run very similar to my home institution’s, standards for assignments varied slightly. This meant I had to put more thought and effort into my assignments to get good grades. I write this not as a negative but as a positive. This need to put extra effort into my studies resulting in me trying harder even after I had adjusted to the new standards expected of me. This may seem a small thing but I believe it has set me up to achieve more from my remainder of my time at my home institution.
What else have I gained?
Studying abroad hasn’t just been about academics. It’s a once in a lifetime to experience life in a foreign country and see another part of the World. Once I’ve finished this semester I’m going travelling for two weeks with a group of friends. Of everything I’ve gained during my time here, the friendships are the things I value most. Most of my friends are also exchange and/or international students. I cannot wait to travel and see more of this beautiful country. We’re visiting Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
Studying aboard is the most life-changing thing I’ve ever done. If you’re someone reading this, that is considering applying, just do it. You won’t regret it. Sure, it’s not always clear sailing, sometimes things go wrong. These moments are what get you out your comfort zone, help build your character and make studying aboard all the more worthwhile. Of course, after the great experience I’ve had here at Flinders, I can’t recommend applying to come here enough.
Alasdhair McBride, semester exchange at Flinders University from University of Stirling, the U.K., Semester 2 2016