Commerce Student Ambassador Anna Dunne takes a look at the UCD exchange programme and explains why she decided to take part in while studying in UCD

UCD has exchange agreements with over 400 universities throughout the world. Most courses have a study abroad option and you can go on exchange even if you don’t speak a foreign language. However, many students don’t apply to study abroad simply because they are not sure what to expect from the experience.

For me, I had never really considered the option of going on exchange until my older sister did. I saw what an incredible experience it was for her and how much she grew as a person. So, I took a leap of faith and applied for study abroad. In my second year of my Commerce degree, I spent a semester at McGill University in Montréal, Canada.

The four months I spent in Montréal are a highlight of my college experience. I learnt so much about myself, gained some truly valuable life skills and made some incredible friends. I believe that every student should consider going on exchange as there are some amazing benefits:

Travel

Going on exchange provides you with an incredible opportunity to travel to new parts of the world. Many students spend a lot of time travelling during their time abroad. While on exchange, I visited many different locations in Canada and learnt so much about their history and culture. This is something that I would have never experienced without doing the exchange.

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Career Prospects

As the world of work is becoming increasingly more global, international experience is something that employers often look for. By going on exchange, you are increasing your employment processes significantly as you are gaining skills that are becoming more valuable, such as communication, cultural awareness, etc.

As well as that, a period of study abroad at another top university helps to set your CV apart and is something that is often discussed in interviews.

New friends

As many universities take exchange students from all over the world, there are fantastic opportunities to make friends from many different countries. For me, a highlight of exchange was making friends with people from around the world.

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As you are away from home, you spend a lot of time with other exchange students – they become your family! The friendships that I made while on exchange are very unique, long-lasting and associated with incredible experiences. I have stayed in contact with lots of people from my time in Montréal and look forward to being reunited with them all in the future.

Personal Development

My time on exchange had a significant impact on me as a person. Being abroad forced me out of my comfort zone and I became much more confident and independent. As well as that, I became significantly better at communicating with people, as I had to maintain connections with people at home and develop relationships with people from all around the world. These new skills have helped me grow as a person and in many aspects of my life, on both a personal and professional level.

Going on exchange also provides you with significant educational opportunities. By studying at McGill, I was exposed to a whole new educational experience and I believe this has helped to improve my performance here in UCD upon my return.

Lifelong memories

Finally, I believe that the main benefit of exchange is that it is a once in a lifetime experience that can provide you with lifelong memories. There are some things from my time in Montréal that I will never forget and there are many things that I never would have experienced without exchange. At the end of the day, the main benefit of exchange is how fun it is!

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I would encourage any student to apply for a semester or year abroad throughout their time in UCD. The experience is once in a lifetime and can have a significant impact on your life. I am very grateful that I took a leap of faith and applied for study abroad, as it is one of the best experiences of my life.