A semester abroad is a semester well spent.
Taking a semester away from home can be daunting. If you're considering going for an exchange programme, you are often mulling over factors like cost, accommodation and safety.
Personally, these were just primary factors when I decided to take on an exchange programme in September last year to Newcastle, United Kingdom.
Here are five reasons why studying abroad for a whole semester was so worth it.
1. Learning to be independent
Being independent is more than just cleaning and cooking for yourself. It includes planning how to spend your time wisely, caring for your health, being responsible in making right decisions and more.
EVER SINCE I RETURNED HOME, I FIND MYSELF DOING HOUSEHOLD CHORES (I DID NOT USED TO DO ANY LOL).
Sometimes, we think we are more than capable of taking care of ourselves. However, it is only when you are left to your own devices that will you learn the struggles that comes with living alone.
For instance, I had to do the budgeting all by myself. I had to plan how much I could spend on transport, food, daily necessities and shopping. Trust me, I could barely resist the temptations that are calling out for my money.
2. Making new friends from all over the world
Socialising is very important while you are away from home. All it takes is a simple "Hi, what's your name? Where are you from?" to befriend someone.
THE HOUSE PARTY GOT A LITTLE WILD THAT NIGHT.
Be open to meeting all sorts of people. Get out of bed and go for your school's orientation, extra-curricular functions, house parties and even clubbing!
At the end of the day, your new friends would become your second family, especially when you need help.
A FAREWELL DINNER WITH MY AWESOME ROOMMATES.
A superb bonus of having international friends includes the possibility of free lodging and a personal guide when you visit their home countries.
3. Travelling to your bucket list countries by yourself
Having the opportunity to plan your own itinerary without any restrictions is amazing. You will have total freedom. When and where you want to fly to, where to stay, what to see and what to eat is all up to you.
AN IMPROMPTU TRIP TO BARCELONA WAS A BRILLIANT IDEA.
Another great thing about travelling across the same country? Cheaper air fares.
Flying domestic from the United Kingdom to Barcelona, Spain, could cost you as low as S$80 for a return trip! Seriously, where else can you get a better deal than that?
A BUCKET LIST ACCOMPLISHMENT: STRUTTING DOWN THE BARCELONA STREETS.
4. Studying modules or courses we do not have in Singapore
Many universities around the world provide diverse courses that may not be offered in local universities, such as genre-specific film studies and mythology.
AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIES, THE ENTIRE CLASS WILL DISSECT ALMOST EVERY SCENE WITH THE PROFESSOR.
I had the opportunity to take on an American horror film module at Northumbria University. My assignments included watching horror movies, such as The Exorcist to World War Z, every week for 10 weeks straight.
We also had to submit a 3,000-word essay at the end of the semester but still, how cool is watching movies as homework?
5. Getting to know yourself better
Although you will out be painting the town red and studying, you will still have a lot of free time by yourself. It isn't that bad, though.
I REALLY LIKED HANGING OUT AND PONDERING BY THE SERENE COAST IN NEWCASTLE.
Being away from the hectic lifestyle in Singapore gives you a chance to know yourself better. It is a good time to reflect on your goals and aspirations, and how you want to get there.
Trust me, many answers to the questions that keep you up at night might be revealed.