Exchange vs. Volunteering

Since I started uni about 20 months ago I was set on going on exchange. I wanted to do it from the get go, but I spoke to the exchange advisers and I had to complete a certain amount of units at my own uni before applying for exchange. So I waited patiently and kept the possibility in the back of my mind, until I realised I wasn’t working hard enough and my GPA wasn’t above the required mark to be accepted for exchange. After realising this, I gave up on the idea and decided it just wasn’t meant to be. Until I got some really good marks last semester, pushing my GPA up a fair bit and meaning I could in fact apply to go on exchange. I got so excited and I started looking into it, attending information sessions and I had even picked out my top three preferred unis to apply for.

Then today…after I had begun filling out my exchange application form, I had class at uni…so I went along and got talking to a new uni friend of mine who has done a fair few volunteering trips around the world and I love hearing his stories. Naturally after my one volunteer trip to Cambodia last year I have been wanting to do more and more…but the financial side hasn’t really been keeping up on it. Anyway, talking to my friend in class today…and he is starting to make plans on a new trip for June/July next year (2014) and we sort of decided we should do it together seeing as we’re both so passionate about it. While he was raving on and on and looking through all different kinds of projects we could do, I noticed myself hesitating a little bit…and then I realised why. I realised that I wouldn’t have the funds to do both a volunteer trip in the winter break AND go on exchange the following month (for 6 months…provided I got accepted of course). I didn’t mention anything to him, I just kept to myself and realised I would have to make a decision over these two things. A few hours later I came to my conclusion…that I knew I should have realised sooner. Going on exchange would have absolutely nothing over a volunteer trip (or more). For me…going on exchange would be a selfish way of traveling/seeing the world. I would much prefer to spend my uni holidays doing a meaningful travel trip to Africa, Asia, South America, or anywhere that needs the help…rather than spending my money on studying in another first world country (as I was looking at going to the USA for exchange).

I am little bit upset that I won’t fulfill my dream of going on exchange, however I will never regret making the decision to volunteer over an exchange program in a million years. Volunteering in developing or third world countries and getting to experience everything that a different culture has to offer is my ultimate dream and a passion that I will continue to strive towards in every moment in my life that is humanly possible.

Anyway, I just thought I would share my little (or big) decision that I made today πŸ™‚

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