The Gap Year exchange potential

Posted by Studentbox user
on 22/09/2017 at in  Everything else
Hello all!

Hope you have a splendid term 3 and are settling into your school holidays before the fun begins again!

I'm studying primary teaching at Curtin University and am fortunate enough to be a Student Ambassador this year. Student Ambassadors are your go-to for asking questions about what its like to study at Curtin. I've also lived on campus and worked on campus. Today's post, though, centres around a little known fact about me - I took a gap year after finishing high school and went overseas for a year-long exchange. So if you hold even the vaguest thought about the potential of an exchange after high school, I urge you to read on.

So exchange you say... why?

Well... Why not!?

I knew I would go to uni eventually but I wanted to travel, to see the world and I like to do things differently. 

I did my research via old mate Google to see which organisations seemed to best offer the kind of experience I had in mind. I sent out some basic applications to a couple of organisations and waited. 

Now, this was in year 11 so if you're already in year 12, you may have missed the cut off date to go away next year. However, if you do plan on going to university (or even if you're not thinking about it), just FYI most universities do offer exchanges depending on the course you've applied for so *don't stress* it's not the end of the world. Some of my uni friends have been exchange and you can check out the ones Curtin offers through this link

But, I digress! 

I opted to go to France for exchange and was accepted to in the April of year 12. Then that September I still put in my preferences to go to Curtin. One of the awesome things about going on exchange was that it gave me time to think about what I wanted to do at uni. I'd kind of switched between fashion designing, architecture, computer engineering and optometry in the last years of high school and I just couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do. So when it came to putting in my preferences, I settled on Pharmacy at Curtin because that's what I wanted to do that week. I was accepted right before I left and Curtin was awesome enough to hold my place while I was away. 

I left in the January after finishing school. This was a month before all my friends were headed to university and it was really sad to say goodbye to everyone but I knew it wasn't forever. It would be a matter of months and I would be back again. My exchange program was amazing and helped organise (and pay for) my flights to Paris. This meant that all the exchange students travelled together and got to share in the long journey together but also the excitement of what we were about to experience! We had a couple of days in Paris as like a pre-orientation to the country but also to the program. I kept in touch with the other exchang-ies on Facebook throughout the year as we were all stationed at different areas around the country. 

My first few months were tough. I went over not knowing more than the basics of the language. My host family was amazing though. They took me on trips around the areas and we tried many different sweets and patisseries also of course, the cheese... wow. My school (lycée) was definitely different to my Australian school. There was a canteen with a three course meal every day but strangely no ovals to run around on. You wouldn't believe it but my best subjects were English and Maths. 

I made some really good friends that I have since been able to go back and visit. Some have even visited me here! My host family became my second family and it was the absolute worst when I had to come home. I learnt about French culture and the people but I also learnt alot about myself. 

However, there were some drawbacks. By the end of my exchange, I was fluent in French (good). My Mum asked me a question and I responded in French not even realising what I had done! So when it came to starting uni, the transition back to thinking and communicating in English again was tricky (bad). Also, my friends who took working gap years made money that helped them out substantially when it came to starting uni. That said, the experiences, the culture, the friends and the opportunities I had in France are PRICELESS and my life is so much the richer for it and although it wasn't always easy, it was definitely worth it and I encourage you to seriously consider think about it. 

Any questions, queries or qualms, send me a buzz and I'd be happy to answer!

Morgan :smile: 
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