You probably started reading this because you are considering going on an exchange? Maybe even in Australia? I recently got back from studying for one semester at RMIT and like the awesome Shia jells out in his motivational speech; “JUST DO IT!!”
It a crazy great experience and something I am thanking both myself for and the INTERACT programme which made it all possible for me.
I spent my 3rd semester at RMIT, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Victoria, Australia. Here I studied Interactive Design. The school was very big, a much larger scale than what I’m used to at DMJX. The trams around the city made it easy to get to and from school, though a real aussie way would be jumping on you bike, but please remember to stay on the “wrong” side of the road (not right!)
I was very lucky to get a place to live in Collingwood, a really cool area filled with local culture, bars and cafes. The hunt for a home started when I arrived and was very challenging so here is my advice; be patient, be very stubborn, seek out realters and sign up for groups on facebook. One last thing; be prepared that living in Melbourne is expensive. Don’t worry, you will find something!
It takes time to fit in, allow that. You will have days where you are tired and are thinking “why did I do this to myself” and that is completely fine. I didn’t meet any exchange friend who didn’t get a bit homesick or just had a few off days. It is a feeling you need to allow yourself to have. It will be good again, just remember to breath once in a while. I’m what you call an introvert and I needed to really listen to myself and take a break from the crazy exchange ride to have moments of my own. You are not going to miss anything doing that, you will have your own memories instead.
It is of course important to socialize when you arrive in a new city. That will happen automatically if you allow it. You will meet heaps of lovely people from all over the world on the introduction days that the school arranges. Here you will meet people who are just as excited and nervous as you. I met the greatest friends on those days and RMIT had arranged for us to have fun and relax.
RMIT also has heaps of clubs to join in every genre. I am a bit of a theatre geek and therefore I signed up at PAC, Performance Arts Club. I got to play a lot of theatre and I met great Aussie theater geeks as well. I will definitely recommend getting involved in a club. It’s also a great way to meet Australians. Surprise, when you are an exchange student you mostly meet exchange people. If you want to meet locals you have to do a bit extra. Australians are the best mates you can have, they always include you and make you feel welcome.
An exchange is many things, one of the big things is studying. It was so interesting and exciting to get to study in a completely different way than what I’m used to from DMJX. I felt like I went from order to chaos in the beginning. The loose schedule and the Australians “no worries” attitude was something I really had to get used to. It was both challenging and very educational to experience. The course is what you make of it, it’s up to you as a student to get the maximum out of it. Your teachers will always be ready to guide you, give advise and listen if you want it. I ended up learning a lot about my creative process. It strengthened my confidence and gave my a lot of different “tool” for the future. It’s basically been a wonderful adventure.
ps… Just do it.