So I have officially been back in New Zealand for a week and thought this would be a good time to reflect on my entire exchange (while I try not to melt in the heat). This post is quite difficult to write because I can’t really believe that my exchange is actually over. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I have made so many lifelong friends and memories, and Leeds will always be a second home to me.
I thought I would use this final post to give some advice to anyone who is looking at going on exchange. My first piece of advice is that if you are thinking about going on exchange you need to go. My five months that I spent on exchange to Leeds were some of the greatest that I have had in my entire life. It was an incredibly life changing experience that I wouldn’t change for anything, and so if you are undecided about whether or not you want to go on an exchange my advice would be to definitely go!
Another piece of advice that I have is to step outside of your comfort zone. Obviously moving to the other side of the world alone like I did is scary enough, but once you get settled in, try some things you wouldn’t usually do. For me this meant a couple of different things, one of these was travelling alone which I had never done before. And although it was terrifying at first, I did it. And it was an awesome experience where I made a lot of friends and memories and now I can eat alone at restaurants and ask strangers to take photos of me without too much fear! An exchange is an awesome time where we have an opportunity to try and experience so many new things so I would recommend trying these new experiences as much as possible.
Also, be prepared but know that things probably will go wrong. On an exchange and travel in general being prepared is important. You’ve got to know what’s going on otherwise it will probably be a very stressful trip. However prepared you are, things are going to go wrong and there’s nothing you can do to change that. For me this was when I got a stomach bug three days before I was meant to be leaving for a two week Europe trip. So my advice for this is that you’ve got to be able to adapt and don’t get too upset that things didn’t work out the way you planned!
Make the most of your time on exchange because it will go super quickly. Even though sitting here writing this I know I’ve been gone for five months it really doesn’t seem that long. In some ways it feels like it was only a few weeks ago I was arriving in Leeds and setting up my rooms, but unfortunately it’s all over now. So my advice is to make the most of your time on exchange, make lifelong friends, go on incredible adventures, because before you know it you’ll be back home with amazing memories, ridiculous amounts of photos and far too many half-baked plans to see all your incredible friends again.