What it’s really like to go on exchange…

…by Fiona / from Australia / studies Fashion / 4th Year (UG)

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It’s week two in Amsterdam, and this is in fact the seventh time I have completely uprooted my life and moved to another country, so I’ve got this covered. I came over from Australia to study Fashion at Edinburgh College of Art. In the lead up to September 2014 all I ever heard was ‘it’s such an amazing city’ and ‘you’re going to love it’, come to think of it, that’s exactly what everybody said about Amsterdam too! But they were right, I do love it, Edinburgh is now home and Amsterdam a completely mad adventure that has just begun!

Most people would say that I was ‘lucky’ for having such a good experience through first and second year of university, but it wasn’t so much luck as it was enthusiasm and openness. My first year revolved around meeting as many people as I could, whilst the second focused on my degree. Of course, nobody warned me that Fashion has the most contact hours out of the entire University, and that all-nighters were going to become a routine… nevertheless, I have grown through the pain of deadlines, material costs and lack of sleep to absolutely fall in love with my course. If you’ve ever seen The Devil Wears Prada, you might begin to understand!

However, out of my eighteen classmates, I was the only person to go on exchange. Why?! Truthfully, as the exchange applications grew closer a certain wave of FOMO (fear of missing out) took over my class. There was an idea that an exchange was an easy option, that it doesn’t really count. This is completely false, and don’t let it deter you! Going abroad means change, it means something new and it most certainly means a challenge. Even within the last fourteen days, Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) has pushed me, tested me and built me. Learning practical skills, theoretical skills, life skills and social skills…lessons that by the end of these six months will ultimately give me the unique edge that each of us needs for when we graduate!

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My best piece of advice for students moving to Edinburgh for the first time or venturing out on exchange is: Just say it and just do it. Whether that’s introducing yourself to someone new in freshers’ week, or going along to that first society event. Wednesday February 1st was my first night in Amsterdam; I was lying in bed, around midnight, reading through the emails that had been sent out to each exchange student at AMFI. I had two options: either I went to sleep and spent the next four days alone… or I could send out an email to all these other exchange Fashion students and set up a Facebook group.

It took me the best part of an hour to pluck up the courage to send that email – and I am so glad that I did. I woke up the next morning to over 10 messages, emails and friend requests. We ended up having an unforgettable four days exploring, drinking, sightseeing and going out before class on Monday! So learn from me, and just send that email, or go to that event, or even just say hi and you will completely surprise yourself!


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