Being on an exchange program usually involves going to another country for a period, during which the student will be assisting going classes and complying with homework assignments. However, from Monday to Friday and especially on weekends, students will have free time that can be seized to live this experience to the fullest. In this article, we will tell you how to get the most out of a short exchange program.
Remember that your number one priority while being on an exchange program is to study the study program you chose. Therefore, going to classes and doing your homework assignments will keep you busy for a good part of the week, and that’s good. We recommend that you do your best not to miss classes and go the extra mile when you do your homework because that way you will get a deep knowledge about your study program.
If your native language is other than the host country’s, learning that new language is also a top priority. We can’t exaggerate the importance of learning other languages for your personal and professional life, so after going to classes and fulfilling your assignments -in which you will surely already be using such new language- we recommend that you practice it as much as you can in your daily life.
With this we do not mean that you should enroll in an additional course to learn the new language since we understand that you will spend a good part of the day communicating with it during your classes, with your classmates and then at home with your host family, but you can include it in your daily life. How? Try to relate to people who don’t speak your language, that way you will be forced to communicate in the language that everyone has in common which is usually the one spoken in the host country. Also, you can listen to music and watch movies in that language, and, in general, follow these tips on learning a language while being on an exchange program.
Now, to truly be able to do more activities in the shortest possible time, we recommend that you use a day planner, which may sound boring, but this tool can help you set goals regarding the time you will invest in your daily activities. It does not have to be a physical item, Google Calendar or a similar application will do the trick.
Now, as we pointed out, your priority is to learn the chosen study program, so you must block in your day planner the hours you go to classes. You should also schedule the hours in which you will do your homework; for example, if your classes take place during mornings, you could go to your house for lunch afterward, take a nap (if you use to do this). Then you could dedicate one or two hours to do homework and study what you saw in class or the topic that will be addressed during the next one, try to clarify any misunderstanding and write down any doubts you may have so that you can ask your teacher about them during the next session.
Doing this is like saving money: if you have the habit of keeping small amounts every day, in less than what you think you will accumulate a large amount of money. Also, if you spend daily time doing your homework and studying the content of your study program, you will not have to make a superhuman effort when you have to take tests. Also, if you previously study the subject that is addressed during classes, you will have a broader knowledge of it, and you will be able to ask teachers deeper questions than the ones that would be asked by others who are listening to this topic for the first time during the same class you are at.
Now on to the good part: the dolce non fare niente. Well, you can even make more of your leisure time if you use a day planner. To do this, we recommend that you find out what activities and events of interest to you will take place in your locality and that you write down this information in your day planner.
These activities can go from a playing a soccer game with your classmates, going to the mall or to a nearby tourist site during weekdays or travel a little further on weekends. Especially during those weekend trips, it is good to be informed about the different attractions of the tourist destination to organize your day planner so that you can visit as many tourist attractions as you can. On the other hand, events can range from participating in some tradition or festival (by the way there are lots of them in Spain), to go to a live concert.
Another recommendation to make the most of your time is that you get informed about public transport schedules (so you don’t have to waste time waiting for buses and trains) and also about the different rates that exist. It might surprise you that, sometimes, going by plane to a place costs the same or just a little more than getting there by train or bus. In any case, these are only general recommendations. You can make the adjustments you want to do things as you see fit. In the end, the important thing is that you are happy during your exchange program.