Most secondary school students tell me they like travelling around the world and are very interested in exchange programmes.
However, some say that they are told, “You should not study abroad!”
Naturally, an exchange programme raises lots of uncertainties. But here are some answers to common questions from students who really want to travel overseas but sometimes feel a bit unsure.
1 I can’t afford it
Students pay regular tuition and other study-related fees to their university in Hong Kong while they are studying abroad. However, they have to bear in mind that there are other expenses, including flights, accommodation, living expenses, visas, insurance and books. The expenses can range from HK$30,000 to HK$100,000 for a semester-long programme, depending on the location and the lifestyle of the student.
Finance is a key consideration before making up your mind to apply for an exchange. However, you should not avoid applying just because of financial issues. There are plenty of subsidy schemes and scholarships available that can cover a large part of your exchange expenses.
2 I will miss my family and friends
Yes, you will! But at the same time, you will meet a lot of new friends, by joining student clubs or volunteering at NGOs, for example.
3 I am scared of travelling
Trust me, you will enjoy it, and you will do it often. My students work very hard during weekdays, attending lectures and doing assignments.
At the weekend, they travel to
nearby cities or other countries. It is common for students to visit more than 10 nearby places during their exchange.
4 It won’t help my career
True, an exchange won’t help you acquire qualifications, but it will help you become more mature. After returning from an exchange, students often say they have discovered new and exciting career options, and that they have seen life from a different perspective.
5 I have too many other commitments
University life is filled with challenges and options. You have to prioritise what you want to do. Being able to live and study overseas for a semester will be difficult after graduation. I highly recommend that you seize this opportunity while you are at university.
6 There are many exchange programme chances at university
Yes and no. There are a lot more opportunities compared to 10 or 20 years ago. However, if the exchange is not part of your curriculum, you will have to compete for a place. Some university programmes offer more exchange opportunities: in some cases, up to 80 per cent of students can join. Apart from exchanges, other overseas learning opportunities are available, such as global internships and language immersion schemes.
So enjoy your overseas experience. If someone says “You should not study abroad,” you should correct them: “I should not miss studying abroad!”