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“Going on exchange was the best thing I did”

Words by Abby Regan.

I was interested in going overseas to study ever since I completed a GAP year in England in 2009. It instigated my obsession to travel and my desire to experience and learn about new culture, wherever in the world it might be. I have since studied overseas in two continents, The Netherlands and the United States.

During my undergraduate degree in Visual Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney I applied for a 6 month exchange program to TU Delft, in The Netherlands.

How to apply for and finance your exchange:

I found out I was able to apply for an $8000 exchange loan that would be added to my existing HECS. I didn’t have enough money at the time but this opened up the opportunity to make it possible, so I embraced it. I completed my elective subjects for UTS in Delft under their industrial design program.

The first step to applying to exchange was a discussion with the information desk in my University department, the Design, Architecture and Building (DAB). They were able point me in the right direction to the UTS Global exchange office. Their team was able to discuss the options and process with me and provided me with correct forms to apply. I was able to select five or so preferences of which country or University.

The tricky part was to research what subjects lined up with the subjects I would be taking if I was to be at UTS that semester. Some matches were more far fetched then others, and Google Translate became my best friend. The DAB faculty helped with this process, to ensure I would be meeting all of the requirements on UTS’ end, and not be prolonging my degree by being on exchange. UTS held student exchange information sessions that helped our group to prepare for the semester abroad.

Where to live:

On exchange I lived in two separate apartments/single bedroom dorm. I recommend that as soon as you are accepted into an exchange program you work out where you will be living. The good student apartments are taken very quickly and I was forced to live quite far form the University, luckily in The Netherlands everyone commutes on bicycles.

A month into the program, I was not enjoying my housing arrangements so moved closer to the university to a placed called Marcushof. It was single bedrooms over three floors, with a mix of people from many different countries including England, Turkey, Sweden, Brazil Finland etc. For me this was a great choice as I enjoyed having lots of people around, we had many great dinners together, fun parties and really formed a small family.

Other options were four bedroom apartments that you were randomly put with other exchange students. I had some people who didn’t enjoy those arrangements and others that loved the people they lived with forming lifelong friendships.

Would I do it again?

Overall TU Delft provided an amazing exchange experience; the university itself is among the best technological universities in the world with excellent research and education standards and facilities. More importantly the Dutch people were so welcoming to exchange students and the atmosphere of Delft as a city was amazing, a smaller quaint version of the Amsterdam, surrounded by canals and students balancing studying with fun.

The pitfalls of being away are of course the distance between you and your family and friends. I am lucky as I am not the emotional type when being away from home for long. I know that everything always goes back to normal with my true friends, as if I was never away and my family are so supportive of me following my dreams where ever in the world that might be. The experience has allowed me to grow as a person, become more independent and form life long friendships.

What happened for Abby the next time she went overseas to study? She didn’t pick the university. The university picked her. As an elite athlete, read her advice.

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