Before you leave to go on exchange, you read all of the articles, and you talk to those around you who have been on exchange themselves. Everyone says it’s the greatest time of your life, and there is nothing to say that it won’t be, but this can also create an immense amount of pressure.
Yes, exchange opens you up to incredible opportunities. You meet incredible, interesting people and see so many amazing places; but there are also mundane, boring days where you study and don’t do much at all.
There is so much pressure for exchange students to “make the most out of the experience” and say yes to everything. But as humans, we can’t say yes to everything.
We need time to focus, re-charge, and re-energize. And that’s okay.
It can also become difficult when you see people around, appearing to be living incredible lives on exchange. You begin to question yourself and whether you’re doing enough. You begin to think you’re wasting your time or not putting in enough effort. Comparing yourself and your experiences to others is damaging in all areas of life, but emotions are accelerated whilst on exchange, which makes the whole ordeal much more difficult.
We all need to accept that yes, this is an incredible time, but it also doesn’t have to be incredible all of the time. Make the most of every day, even if that day is just sitting in your room, chilling out.
Comparison is a killer; you will never enjoy your own time if you’re concentrating on what you ‘should’ be doing or what everyone else is doing.
So take every day as it is. There is no right or wrong way to spend a semester abroad. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, that’s all that matters. You have got to accept that not everyday will be exciting and full of adventure, even if it looks that way for everyone else. That’s just life!
Relax and enjoy your time! Otherwise, you’ll regret the time you spent worrying instead of enjoying your exchange.
By Mackenzie Stolp