Exchange Programs: studying abroad for a whole semester?

Most modern television shows have the familiar exchange student trope, but I never actually understood how exchange programs work until I looked into joining one myself.

I initially thought an exchange program involved two students literally exchanging spots in their respective high schools/colleges.

I was slightly off the mark with that analysis. Turns out that universities and high schools have “exchange partners”, which are essentially other academic institutions that they have a partnership with. The partnerships result in you having to pay relatively less than the case where you went to a different university independently.

After a lot of research, emails and paperwork, I will be going to Hong Kong on exchange next semester. This means I will be there for an entire semester taking classes for credit that I can transfer back to UC.

In simple words, during an exchange program, you will:

  • Spend a semester/term at another university that is a recognized partner of your home university
  • Take classes that count towards your degree
  • Pay lesser than independently doing a study abroad
  • Gain global exposure and have fun!

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, have a look at – the official study abroad website for UC.

Clicking this button will show you all the exchange possibilities UC offers!

Once you have a look at the list and narrow down your options, you should schedule a meeting with one of the study abroad advisers, and talk through the process. Planning for an exchange program can be a time consuming process, so make sure you start early!

Of course, there are hundreds of other opportunities to study abroad other than exchange programs. Read here about other ambassadors’ experiences with studying abroad!

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