Photo of Headington Shark in Headington, England.
When you think of study abroad, you probably think of the experiences someone can have while abroad. However, not everyone has the same experiences and that, in part, is due to the program that they can go on. There are many different programs here at the University of Kentucky such as Partner, Direct, Sponsored, Consortia, and Exchange.
All of these programs are different and can be seen on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is Partner programs. Partner programs are helpful in that fact that they will help you plan excursions and help to make sure that you are getting acclimated in your new country. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Exchange programs. Exchange programs are much more hands on in the sense that there is more responsibility placed on the shoulders of the student. The student plans any excursions, places to live, and ensure transportation. Students who go on Exchange typically look for a sense of independence.
I spent my last academic year studying in Oxford, England at Oxford Brookes University. While I was applying, there were weeks where I was swamped with work to study abroad. Although this process was time consuming, every minute I worked on my exchange process was worth it. I planned my plane. I planned where I was going to live. I planned the courses I was going to study. I planned on transport to and from the airport. I planned how to get around the city of Oxford. I planned where I could get groceries. I planned my trips around Europe. I did a lot of planning. That is the reason that Exchange was so enriching for me. I had a lot of responsibility, and that responsibility made me feel closer to where I was headed. I knew that I was putting a lot of effort into my education abroad, and that resulted in a better knowledge and appreciation of the location and culture.
A lot of students are deterred from Exchange programs because of the amount of work that is involved. When a student goes abroad on Exchange there is a lot of responsibility placed on that student. They are in a foreign location. In my experience I was the only student from UK there for the first semester of my time there. It is a scary situation. However, the University of Kentucky ensures that a student is going to a place where they know a student can succeed. If you go abroad on Exchange, you won’t be the only international student there. I met plenty of Americans while abroad. I met students from California, Minnesota, Alabama, New Hampshire, and many other states. I met plenty of international students. I met students from Croatia, Northern Ireland, Germany, China, India, and many other nations. At no point did I feel that I was alone. UK does a fantastic job of ensuring students are headed to a location where they will be able to fit in.
Exchange was rewarding to me in that fact it helped me grow up. A lot of individuality and responsibility fell upon me. I gained a more thorough respect of the culture and my overall experience. This led me to fall in love with my experience, and allowed me to fall in love with the city, culture, and people, as well. If you’re reading this, and this sparks your interests then stop by Bradley Hall 315 and speak with an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador about Exchange, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for more information.
Connor Bechtol studies Management and Marketing at the University of Kentucky, and he just returned from studying for the full academic year at Oxford Brookes University.