Travelling solo in an unknown country and surrounded by strangers can be daunting, but it also opens doors to so many opportunities and countless memories along the way. It can be overwhelming too, but why not take the plunge and experience it all? Just like every other solo travel, An AIESEC exchange can also be a life-changing experience for any individual. But there is so much more to it.
- You Discover Your True Self
- You Create A Home Away From Your Home
- Creating A Social Impact By Contributing To SDGs
- Cultural Immersion And Patriotism
- Breaking The Age-Old Stereotypes Of Your Country
- You Gain Confidence
- An Adventure Preparing You To Be Crisis Ready
- An AIESEC Exchange Is A Comfort Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
- You Become The Master Of Your Finances
- Experiencing A Country As A Local
- Language Is Never A Barrier
- Save 70% When You Travel For An AIESEC Exchange Than A Normal Tourist
- Come Back Home With Unforgettable Memories, Lifelong Connections, and A New Self
It’s a journey that embarks on discovering your true self, helps you gain confidence, and gives you an opportunity to experience a new culture, meet new people and grow in ways you could never imagine. The list is endless.
As a person who has been on multiple exchanges in Russia, the Czech Republic, and Turkey through AIESEC, I have experienced how an AIESEC exchange can mould you in such a beautiful way. It not only offers you the opportunity to see yourself grow but also gives you a chance to witness the beauty of a country.
It is an experience that strives to help you be the best version of yourself. And I believe each and every person, before turning 30, should go on an AIESEC exchange at least once in their lifetime. If you are wondering what benefits you will get out of it, here’s a short blog about it.
#1 You Discover Your True Self
Would you be surprised if I told you that I was a completely introverted person before going on my first exchange? I still remember my first AIESEC Exchange in the Czech Republic; it was back in 2020. I was the only boy in a group of six girls from Taiwan, Georgia, Indonesia, Ukraine, South Korea and Thailand.
Like any other young boy, I was scared of having conversations with them, scared of fitting in. But let me tell you one thing, we all came from the same background, we all were of the same age, and equally scared of starting a conversation with a complete stranger. And I think that’s what offers you a perfect environment to open up to each other.
The core beauty of an AIESEC exchange is you experience its beauty along with people from various other cultural backgrounds who are here to do the same thing as you are. And that sometimes can be a great icebreaker! And while doing so, you tend to be more comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone. You will find yourself more open, self-assured, and capable of doing things which you might have always feared doing so. You discover your true self.
#2 You Create A Home Away From Your Home
As of today, I can proudly say that I have a home in more than 5 countries (Turkey, The Czech Republic, Nepal, Poland, Taiwan, South Korea, Ukraine, Thailand, and Indonesia). You get to experience the true culture of not only the country you are visiting but also the people you will be exploring the country with.
Most of the AIESEC exchanges offer free accommodation and free one-time meals in a day. These accommodations are mostly with local host families or hostel dorms. Trust me, staying with a local host family teaches and enriches your experience to its best.
Mark my words when I say this, the host family you stay with becomes your home away from your home. They become your guardians and parents for the time you stay with them; for them, you are like a son or a daughter. Host families offer everything to you with a pure and kind heart.
During my AIESEC exchange in the Czech Republic, I stayed with 5 different host families, and each one of them made me feel the most comfortable in their houses. They used to offer me tiffins, water bottles, and snacks and host beautiful Indian dinners for me, just the way my mom did for me.
#3 Creating A Social Impact By Contributing To SDGs
The main aim of the AIESEC exchange is to contribute towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations. Every project through AIESEC promises to fulfil these 17 SDGs.
Through AIESEC’s exchange opportunity, you get the chance to work on projects related to a variety of social issues, including education, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship. You can use your skills and knowledge to make a difference in your project leading to the development of local organisations and their initiatives.
During my AIESEC exchange in Turkey, I was able to educate Turkish students in basic English speaking and communication skills.
#4 Cultural Immersion And Patriotism
An AIESEC exchange is for at least six to eight weeks. That’s a significantly good amount of time you get to spend in a new country. This not only allows you to fully immerse yourself in the new culture but also helps in understanding the country’s traditions and cultures. It helps you to get a deep understanding of how rich the country is for its culture and creates a warm sense of appreciation for the world around it.
Starting from its food, clothes, traditions, etiquette, local cuisine, city’s transportation, and more. You get to live the country’s culture as a true local.
But there’s more. It is not just you experiencing the culture; as an AIESEC exchange participant, you represent your country, its culture and its tradition too. Therefore, it becomes your responsibility to showcase the best of your country’s culture to your fellow foreign students. Not to mention, there cannot be any other moment which can make you feel more proud of your country.
Additionally, your AIESEC host entity might also organise cultural events and activities, such as global villages, for all the exchange participants. This will help you to experience the local culture and customs firsthand.
Fun Fact – During my AIESEC exchange in the Czech Republic, I took Henna (Mehendi) from India to draw and write their name on their hands.
#5 Breaking The Age-Old Stereotypes Of Your Country
Without any doubt, every country has some stereotypes and myths which need to be broken or addressed. An AIESEC exchange provides you with the platform and a way to break these stereotypes. As a cultural exchange participant, you play a crucial role in validating stereotypes or myths about your country. And trust me, international students, small kids, and teenagers have a lot of them.
#6 You Gain Confidence
Every teenager, a university student, or a school-going kid will always hope to be confident in the things they tend to achieve. But confidence cannot be gained without practical experience. That’s exactly what an AIESEC exchange offers you. It offers a practical experience to help you overcome all your fears and gain confidence in yourself.
During your AIESEC project, there will be multiple opportunities where you will have to either lead a team, present yourselves in front of hundreds of strangers, travel solo, manage things on your own or take some unexpected paths. All these opportunities will help you to grow as a confident individual. I agree it’s a slow process, but that’s the right way towards it.
#7 An Adventure Preparing You To Be Crisis Ready
Not every trip goes according to your plans or expectations. A successful exchange might always encounter unexpected challenges or uncertainties, such as finding your way on the first day of your exchange, travel delays, local issues, or similar.
There’s a saying –
“Whenever you feel uncomfortable, instead of retreating back into your old comfort zone, pat yourself on the back and say, “I must be growing,” and continue moving forward.” – T. Harv Eker
Just keep going, and you shall fit yourself perfectly in a span of a few days.
#8 An AIESEC Exchange Is A Comfort Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
A true journey of self-discovery starts only when you step outside of your comfort zone. To achieve something great, you must break your comfort zone and luckily, an AIESEC exchange provides you with a safe place to be the most comfortable even outside of your comfort zone. Moreover, you meet a lot of like-minded individuals, which results in valuable lifelong relations.
We AIESECers are just like you, learning to grow ourselves while making sure that every exchange participant has the best experience of their lifetime. True enjoyment and experience of an AIESEC exchange begins only at the end of your comfort zone.
#9 You Become The Master Of Your Finances
When you stay in a foreign country, and that too for almost six to eight weeks alone, you eventually become the master of your finances. You have to manage your own spending, starting from food, transportation, leisure, shopping, etc.
The experience of being responsible for budgeting and managing your own spending can be valuable for your personal development and financial literacy.
Solo travelling indeed teaches you a lot. Here are 5 Valuable Lessons I Learned while solo travelling.
#10 Experiencing A Country As A Local
An AIESEC exchange acts as a key to new experiences. Because when you stay with the locals, you eventually experience the local culture and daily life with them. It provides you with the opportunity to witness the beauty of the country from a first-hand perspective.
Your host family might also plan some trips for you that could include visiting cultural landmarks, attending local traditional festivals, participating in traditional activities, dining at local restaurants, visiting local markets, or simply taking a walk and observing daily life in your local neighbourhood.
#11 Language Is Never A Barrier
Who said you need to be perfect in English to travel abroad?
Let me tell you one astonishing fact; I stayed with a local host family in the Czech Republic for almost a week who did not speak a single word of English. We simply used hand gestures and minimalist English phrases like yes, no, good, bad, and, most importantly, Google Translate.
But this was the only host family who cried when I was about to say goodbye. Love is unconditional; it does not have any boundaries.
Even the students I taught had a basic level of English understanding. And these were the students who couldn’t stop hugging me on my last day of the AIESEC exchange. Here’s a small secret – just put a wide smile on your face, leave all the selfishness behind, and present your true self to them. People will eventually connect with you and find a unique way to communicate with you.
#12 Save 70% When You Travel For An AIESEC Exchange Than A Normal Tourist
If you plan to explore any country as a tourist, you will surely end up paying hefty amounts for hotels, transportation, food shopping, visa fees, and many more such expenses.
As an AIESEC exchange participant, you tend to save almost 70% of your cost as you save 100% on your accommodation and food. Furthermore, if you are a student below the age of 25, you can also avail multiple student concessions on food, shopping, travelling, and on local transport.
Along with this, students who are below the age of 25 and planning to go on an AIESEC Exchange in Europe get the Schengen Visa for almost free. Yes, you tend to save 80 EURs over your visa fees. Do read my blog on how Schengen Visa Is Free For AIESEC Exchanges!
With the help of the ISIC Student Discount Card, you can save almost 50%-75% on local transport in more than 125+ countries. Just make sure you apply to your ISIC student discount card.
A Bonus Tip – You can apply a discount code “Y091600010525L” while placing your order for an ISIC card and get INR 150 off on the card’s total amount.
#13 Come Back Home With Unforgettable Memories, Lifelong Connections, and A New Self
An AIESEC exchange will create unforgettable memories, and lifelong connections and help you to discover a new sense of yourself. You immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, and get the opportunity to grow and develop in ways that are not possible in our everyday lives
The relationships and connections you will form during an AIESEC exchange will last a lifetime, and it will keep providing you with support and inspiration. Once you are back from your exchange, you will see yourself as a new individual who has discovered new passions, strengths, and goals.
An AIESEC exchange is something that will be treasured for a lifetime. You not only impact yourself but also hundreds of other individuals who also grow into their best selves because of you.
So! Is It Worth Going On An AIESEC Exchange? Of course, yes! All the very best for your next amazing AIESEC adventure.
An Experience By – Nishad Kinhikar (A Proud AIESECer)
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