I am an international student (Bangladeshi passport, Malaysian PR, considered Malaysian for all purposes except immigration) studying in QUT in Brisbane, Australia. Currently I am doing a Bachelors in Creative Industries (Interdisplinary), submajoring in Creative Writing and Creative Industries Management.
My university offers students an opportunity to go on an exchange for a semester-a year with their partner universities worldwide. I'm thinking about taking up the opportunity, but I'm not entirely sure if I should.
Now I'm an exchange nut. I've always wanted to be an exchange student in some fashion. One and a half years ago I travelled around the world on a global education program and had the time of my life. I should be jumping for joy at this opportunity, but there are some things that are making me second-guess it.
1. It's exchange! Travel! Learning! New experiences! Just my thing!
2. I can obtain an "International Exchange" minor from this, which may actually help with my career goals.
3. I don't have to pay the overseas uni; I just pay my usual uni fees. I'm on a scholarship (which covers half my usual fees) so that helps.
4. There is a system in place and I will get credit transferred.
5. It fits with my visa guidelines (as long as I am here for my final semester I'm fine - I'm planning to go in early 2008).
6. I have a semester full of electives, which I can use to study just about anything - I'm hoping to do something related to education or social work.
1. The partner universities
don't seem very appealing. I'm quite the "alternative nontraditional education" girl (think Hampshire or Semester at Sea) and the unis they have there are more on the traditional side. (It was telling when I asked people for recommendations, listing my preferences and the unis available, and I got so many recs for UC Berkeley - which is NOT a partner uni.)
2. The more interesting countries have a language requirement, which I can't fulfill. Or they don't quite have the courses I want. Which leaves me with UK, USA, Ireland, or Canada. There is one uni in the US (The College of New Jersey) that has piqued my interest, HOWEVER...
3. ...the US is weird in that I have to go back to Malaysia to get a student visa (I already have a tourist visa). Other countries let me get visas at the Australian embassy. I don't know if I'll have the time or resources for that.
4. I'm not sure I'll be able to support myself or be supported financially. I still depend on my parents to a large extent (my part-time job doesn't pay all that much) and they already paid for my round-the-world trip, so this would be a hard sell.
5. I have a boyfriend, whom I loathe to leave behind. He's actually encouraging me to go on exchange, he thinks it'll be good for me. But it'll still be hard. We spent 3 months apart for hols and it was still hard!
One complicating factor is that my friends are adamant about going to South America during the summer/end-year holidays - fun idea, but between getting the visas for everywhere and getting my paperwork sorted, it is a logistics nightmare.
Mainly, though, it's the lack of any super-interesting partner universities that's bumming me out. There's none there that make me go "OH I MUST GO". I would much rather travel on a program like The Scholarship or Semester at Sea or wherever, or do an internship for a semester, but that involves taking a Leave of Absence, which can be really iffy on my credit transfer and with my student visa. Also, I'll have to pay full fee, which could suck.
What should I do? Any suggestions? There's gonna be an exchange fair in the next couple of days, but what other options do I have?