Top 9 Reasons to Consider Exchange Programs

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Prague, Spain, California, Greece, Japan, Hawaii: these are just a few examples of locations where you can study as a UW Oshkosh student. With hundreds of programs offered, your travel dreams can become a reality. I spent a semester studying abroad in Spain learning the Spanish language and culture, as well as a semester in Tennessee on the National Student Exchange (NSE) for a different kind of culture change. After experiencing both programs, I knew I had to tell you about the opportunities that are only a short reach away to UWO students… So, I have compiled a list of the top 9 reasons that you should be considering exchange programs in your near future.

1. Affordability


STUDY ABROAD: Studying abroad is more affordable than you may think. You can live in another country for up to a year for not much more than what you would normally pay at Oshkosh. You could also qualify for a study abroad scholarship and have the cost reduced. If you’re worried about financing a trip abroad, the staff in the Office of International Education will be able to help you figure out a plan.

NSE: In the National Student Exchange (NSE ) you will pay Oshkosh tuition while attending another school. You can still qualify for financial aid and scholarships and while you are exchanging you don’t have to worry about paying another school’s tuition. Definitely worth looking into!

2. Connections


STUDY ABROAD: You will gain a friend base of people from all around the world. After staying in Spain, I had friends from not only Spain, but also Japan, Taiwan, Germany, England, Portugal, Ireland and all over the United States!

NSE: The NSE program allows you to form lifelong friendships. When I arrived in Tennessee I didn’t know a single person. By the time I left I had a group of irreplaceable friends who made my experience a wonderful one. Some of my friends have already planned road trips to see me in Oshkosh.

3. Culture


STUDY ABROAD: Another country’s culture will be a brand new experience. Each country has traditions and values that are unique. While I was in Spain I had to get used to eating lunch at 3 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m., which are traditional eating times there. (10 p.m. is so late!!!)

NSE: You will realize that Wisconsin has a unique culture that differs from that of other states. I got used to eating chocolate gravy on my biscuits while in Tennessee and was shocked to find out that no one had any idea what a cheese curd was.

4. Food


STUDY ABROAD: There are no words to describe the foods you will find. Being open-minded to everything is the key to success when eating food abroad. Try whatever is put in front of you because you never know what you’ll end up liking. (Check for allergies first, of course.) I ate calamari and mussels for the first time in my all time favorite Spanish dish: Paella. (Pictured above.)

NSE: Every state — or even city — can be well known for some sort of food. I got to experience so-called “comfort food” for the first time while I was in the south. I am greatly missing Memphis barbecue and sweet tea now that I am back to Wisconsin. (But I have cheese curds back, which is nice.)

5. Vacation


STUDY ABROAD: Being in another country means that there will be sightseeing and new experiences everyday. The streets, the buildings, the people: everything is different, exciting and new. I look at my pictures from Spain and can’t believe that I ever got used to the beauty I saw on a daily basis.

NSE: The program is like a constant vacation. Of course there will be school work, but getting to see new places and doing touristy things is amazing. I got to visit Memphis and Jackson and many other cities in and near Tennessee that were new travels for me.

6. Learning


STUDY ABROAD: If you decide to go to a country that speaks a language other than English, the immersion will speed up your learning process by 100%. Even if you do go somewhere where the natives speak English, there is a lot of culture and history to learn about.

NSE: The phrase lifelong learning will start to make more sense. You will realize that there really is something new to learn everywhere you go, even if it is just another state away. All places and people will have something new to offer you.

7. Stay On Track


STUDY ABROAD: You can study abroad and still have your credits transfer back to UWO. No matter what you major in, you can find the perfect program for you. I went to Spain for a whole semester and am still on track to graduate in 4 years. Don’t want to go for so long? There are shorter programs, too!

NSE: Studying at another NSE university means that you can take classes very similar to the ones that UWO offers. This means that you can study anywhere that has your major and still stay on track and earn relevant credits while you are away. I was able to earn credits for my Communication major while spending a semester in Tennessee.

8. Gain Courage


STUDY ABROAD: We all like to think we are brave, but you realize how truly courageous you are when you leave for a different country. You may be nervous at first, but once you get there you’ll have way too much fun to worry about anything. Whether the courage comes from trying a new food, speaking a foreign language, meeting new people or going on adventures, you’ll definitely grow as a person.

NSE: Going to another university takes courage. You will have to make new friends and try new activities. You will have to put yourself out there and be open to new opportunities. By the end of the experience you’ll probably be an expert at not only making friends, but adapting to new situations as well. This is a good life skill to have in general.

9. Memories


STUDY ABROAD: The time you spend abroad is irreplaceable. You will meet so many people and learn so much more than you ever expected. Pictures will trigger special moments in time and, like me, you’ll know that one day you will return.

NSE: You will have stories and memories for a lifetime. People will ask you about your exchange experience and you’ll say “great” knowing that you couldn’t possibly put the experience into sufficient words.

So what are you waiting for? Whether you want to study abroad or do the NSE or both, the Office of International Education is ready to help you along the way. The journey starts whenever you are ready. The options are endless; with more than 250 locations to choose from, will you make the decision to explore? ¡Buena suerte!

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