Victorian school building

When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going – Uncertainty in Student Exchange

During these times, you just can’t put all your eggs in one basket. Especially if that basket is a student exchange in the middle of a pandemic. From as early as grade school I’ve dreamed of studying abroad in a foreign country I’ve never been to.  I may be reaching a bit when I say this but I believe there is something about student exchange that you can’t get when you’re at your home university. Experiencing a different culture, maybe a new language, and a society that’s outside of what you know – it’s the reason I’m so compelled to do an exchange before I graduate.

Unfortunately, luck hasn’t been on my side with a pandemic occurring throughout my undergrad. But I still applied for student exchange nevertheless.  Long story short, I don’t know if I’m going or not because of the current circumstances. So, what am I doing now? What will I do? I ask myself that all the time.  It’s created a lot of anxiety, especially for planning how I’ll obtain my final credits. Luckily, I’ve received some guidance from the Learning Abroad office.

First off, if you are thinking of applying for exchange, the best thing to do is book an appointment with Learning Abroad. They can answer any questions about exchange before, during, and after the whole process. I had a million questions about location and finances and speaking with them made applying much more easier. Taking their advice, I enrolled in U of T courses for the winter in case the exchange gets cancelled. I’ve also avoided applying for non-refundable accommodation until I have more updates from the exchange office. I’m really playing by ear with these processes.

Where to find your Learning Abroad appointment on clnx:

screenshot about university student services
screenshot of options for university student services

With all of this careful planning, I’ve also considered fully postponing my exchange to next fall. With everything so up and down, later looks like the safer option. In dealing with uncertainty, this has been the hardest part for me – being stuck between two major decisions that affect both my academic career and personal circumstances. There’s this pressing worry that I’ll make the wrong decision that I’ll heavily regret. My biggest fear right now is that the exchange goes through but I’ll get sent home early like what happened with many students when the pandemic began. I can’t imagine the pain of losing not only time and money but also the academic credits that would’ve otherwise been obtained from the exchange term.

outdoor sports stadium

I plan for an unpredictable winter semester while I juggle my current one along with my job and other priorities. The only thing I can do now is explore all my available options and think them carefully before I make a decision. If I’ve learned something though, I realize that there are options no matter what happens. My future semester may not turn out how I planned but I know I won’t be doomed.

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