Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2018.
Exchange is a unique chance to study at a different university in another country while still paying UBC tuition. The experience is yours to design, much like Claire discovered when going to Seoul.
I had a chance to interview 4th year Commerce student, Claire Song, to learn more about her experience abroad. Read on for her insights.
Where did you go on exchange?
I went to Seoul National University in Term 1, so September to December at the start of my 3rd year.
What would you say to someone who was about to go there on exchange?
I’d say just think of what’s your main reason for applying to exchange. Are you really interested in taking a course there, are you just going to party and have fun, or are you going there to see family?
I wanted to just go to have fun and see family. I didn’t realize that the one course that I needed to take in Korea—Investment Theory, which was mandatory—was only offered in Korean, and my Korean is not completely fluent. So learning all these finance terms seemed so impossible. I ended up finishing that course with, like, a 52. I thought that wasn’t going to affect my GPA, but it kind of did.
So I would just say to plan that out. If there’s a mandatory course, make sure it’s in a language that you’re comfortable with. Because that course took up a lot of time that I didn’t expect. I worked my butt off for that 52!
Do you have advice in terms of prepping for an experience like this?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and make sure all your questions are answered. I know a lot of my friends who have gone on exchange and we’ve all visited the Go Global office and personally set up meetings with them to make sure everything’s going right.
One of my friends wanted to go on exchange in Term 1 and Term 2, both at different schools, and that was possible for her, too, after she talked to the Go Global people. If you have a vision, they’ll help you with it.
Favourite part of going on exchange?
Definitely the people that you meet there and all the unique opportunities that you don’t have in Canada. I know everyone says this, but you have friends all over the world, and you really do meet up with them in unexpected ways afterward.
When I had co-op in Toronto, one of my best friends from exchange was passing by Toronto, so we got to catch up there, and it was so nice! You just never know when you’re gonna run into them again!
What did you learn most about yourself through this experience?
I reflected a lot, enough to change my major and be brave to do so. I feel like it was just a time where I realized I had so much more agency. Going on exchange and being independent, you really gather the courage to make a big decision. Carrying it out right away gave me so much more confidence to live my life the way I want to.
Anything else you want to add?
Oh yeah! Exchange isn’t as expensive as you think it is, so don’t let finances stand in the way. There are a lot of scholarships available, just manage the money well. Don’t let finances be something that holds you back.
So there you have it! For more info, visit the international experiences page to search for study abroad opportunities.