Exchange Diaries: Preparing For Your Exchange

By Jonny Klynkramer (ArtSci ’ 14)
Staff Writer

Here are a few things I wish somebody had told me before I left for India:
• Travel, travel, travel: Even if it's just day trips to nearby cities or unexplored places in your city, do it. Take full advantage of holidays, long weekends, class trips, etc., and don't be afraid to travel alone if that's the only thing stopping you from exploring (unless your safety is at risk).
• Travel > class: Miss a few classes here and there and treat yourself to some long weekends of travel. Find out how much you can get away with early on and use it to your advantage. I missed plenty of opportunities to travel in first semester because I was worried about attendance; I won't be making that mistake second semester.
• Make friends with locals and other foreigners: Making friends with local students will get you access to some really cool things that other foreigners and tourists will probably never experience. Making friends with other foreigners will give you somebody to travel, be homesick and vent with.
• Know you will be homesick (it happens): Skype often with friends and family, talk it out with other foreigners and fight on through; nothing lasts forever.
• Communicate with Queens: Worrying about whether you'll get credits for classes you're taking is no fun. Trust me.
• Do two semesters: If you’ve got the opportunity, take it. Unless your program or budget really restricts this possibility, stay for as long as possible. One semester really isn't enough time to settle in, get to know a place, and overcome all the obstacles in your way.
• Learn some of the language, even if it's just a few basic words: You'll have an easier time getting by, plus you'll be sure to impress the locals.
• Push your boundaries: We grow and learn most by stepping outside our comfort zone and trying new things, and being on exchange is the perfect time to do this.
• Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Good luck and safe travels.

Continue to follow Jonny on his exchange in Mumbai, India via his personal blog jonnyinmumbai.tumblr.com.

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