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5 Ways to Jumpstart Your International Exchange Dreams

Ciao tutti!

Before I get to the 5 things you can do right now if you’re interested in doing an exchange one day, I’d like to tell you a bit about the exchange I’ll be doing this summer. On Tuesday I will be heading to beautiful Northern Italy, birthplace of my maternal grandparents, for 5 weeks. The first week will be spent in my family’s tiny hometown of Fiume Veneto, where I will likely not have any internet connection and therefore probably won’t be blogging, followed by 3 weeks at the University of Udine where I will be doing an Italian Language and Culture course, and finally, 1 week of unplanned travel (hopefully to Milan).

I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, but never having anyone able to make the trip with me, I thought it might never happen. That is, until I stumbled onto this page on the Laurentian website. Here you can find information about exchanges to all sorts of places, or you can email directly to make an appointment with the awesome people there. They’re sure to help you find an exchange that fits your budget, works with your schedule and caters to your interests, just like they did for me!

Whether you’re a future student hoping to study abroad one day or a current student hoping to participate in an exchange before you leave Laurentian, here are a few things you can do right now to make sure you’re ready to pack up and go if you decide to do an international exchange.


1. Start learning the language

If you already have a country in mind, you can get a head start on learning the native language so you don’t seem (so much) like a clueless tourist when you get there. You might be able to take a course in FrenchItalian, Spanish or German at Laurentian to get you started. I took first year Italian this past year as an elective and it was great! Not only do you learn the language but you also learn a lot about the culture. If you aren’t able to take a course, or if the language you’re looking for isn’t offered, there are plenty of ways to learn online. I’ve been using Duolingo (a free site which is also available on mobile) for 2 years now, and I’ve learned a lot. Find whatever works best for you and your schedule!


2. Look into getting all the necessary documents 

A GIF of Mr Bean making a face

I know, I know, boring, right? But you can’t get anywhere if you don’t have your papers. Even if you haven’t picked a certain place or time to go, look into getting (or renewing) your passport. Also, for those of you without a credit card yet, look into getting one as soon as possible. Credit cards are one of the best ways to buy what you need abroad and you’ll need it to purchase your airline ticket. Also make sure that you’ll be able to bump up your credit limit enough to be able to buy the ticket, they aren’t cheap!


3. Explore the culture

A GIF of Julia Roberts while she talks

As I said, a university course is a great way to learn more about the country you’ll be visiting. Sudbury also hosts many cultural events, such as the Italian and Greek festivals, in which anyone can participate. Student clubs are another great way for students to learn more about a different culture. I joined the Italian Club this year and got to explore Italy’s music, food and film!


4. Save, save, save and save!

A GIF of Nicky Minaj holding money

Even though travelling on a budget is doable, especially when you can get student discounts and use handy sites like Airbnb and Flight Network, travelling costs A LOT. So whether you have a specific date and place set in your mind or you’re just wishing that you can take a trip before you graduate, start saving NOW. Open up a savings account and try getting a certain percentage of each paycheque put directly into your savings. Banks also offer services that transfer a certain amount from your checking account to your savings at regular intervals or with every transaction you make. Whatever you choose, just make sure you remember that your dream exchange trip can happen as long as you stay determined and save!


5. The last one is up to you!

Let me know in the comments what you think anyone can do right now to make sure they’re ready to embark on their international adventure when the time comes. Comments from experienced travellers and newbies like me are all welcome!

I’ll check in with you next week when I arrive at the University of Udine to start my language course and I’ll let you know everything, good and bad, about my first trip to Italy. And don’t forget that you can also follow my adventure on InstagramA presto!