What can you learn from Student Exchange Programme?

14.11.2017

Student Exchange Programme benefits you in a unique way, regardless of the part in which you are involved. Whether you are going on an exchange or you are welcoming incoming students, SEP is always a good choice. Meeting new people, exploring different cultures and traveling to amazing places are all part of SEP, but there is always more that you can do to make your experience even better.

  1. Writing your emails

From the moment you decide to do your SEP practice, you have an opportunity to develop your writing skills. You will have a chance to be directly in contact with your home and host SEO and improve the writing of your emails and communication through social media. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to use both formal and informal writing styles.

  1. Communication

This is one of the most important aspects of personal development in SEP and it is hard to even describe all the ways that you can improve yourself on this part. You are constantly in contact with your colleagues who are also with you on the exchange, and since you are all finding yourself in the same situation, it is much easier to form a connection between each other. Wherever you do your SEP practice in the end, remember that you are collaborating with fellow pharmacy students who will one day be your colleagues. Try to use this opportunity to exchange your ideas, develop your critical thinking and learn as much as you can about pharmacy in different countries. All of this will help you in becoming a better pharmacist in the future.

  1. Improve your language skills

Directly connected to the last point – if you improve your communication skills, you will inevitably improve your language skills, too. One of the most important notes regarding this is to not be afraid to use your second language(s). It sometimes happens that students don't engage in discussions because they believe their knowledge of the language is not good enough. The truth is that you can always make improvements regarding foreign languages, no matter how experienced you may be. Use SEP as an opportunity to practice – nobody will mind the level of your knowledge and you can only gain new insights and learn something new. That way, everybody wins J

  1. Cultural awareness  

The world is getting more connected each day and it is more important than ever to keep up with news and situations at a global scale. What's even more valuable is to know how to interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. You can often hear that the world of pharmacy is small and it is almost inevitable that you will meet your international friends one day, as a professional or still as a student. Exchanging ideas between different nations is key to our mutual development, and you can always bring your new knowledge back to your home country and help your pharmacy profession grow.

  1. Learn to be independent and flexible

Traveling alone to another country is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, and a lot of students do it for the first time on SEP. There is a lot of ways in which you can prepare yourself for your first independent journey so that you can make most out of it.

For instance, a lot of associations offer additional information on what they offer for SEP, such as booklet, pamphlets, etc. Definitely check with your home SEOs if they have something to share with you, and later ask around with your host SEO. But doing your own research will give you the opportunity to explore the country you are visiting before your trip, and you always learn more when doing the research by yourself. Google is also a good friend of you in this situation. There are many forums, blogs and websites by fellow travelers where you can find useful tips. And try to make use of your network of friends to connect you to somebody who lives in the country you are visiting or has already traveled there.

Definitely take the opportunity of having local friends - that is probably one of the greatest things of any exchange. They know what food is good, what you should visit and for how long, and how to get from one place to another. One more note – some things surely won't go as planned. The important thing is not to worry about it too much. What you should do is learn how to adapt to different situations. Being flexible with your time and wishes is one of the most important lessons you can learn during SEP.

Traveling to another countries, meeting your new colleagues and friends is an amazing and enriching experience. But you don't always have go travel away from home to experience that – you can always help your association and students who are participating in an exchange in your country.

  1. Project organisation in your association

While helping with SEP in your association, you can gain a lot of skills we mentioned before, but there are other ways in which you can develop your skills. Organising SEP involves educational and social programe, too, and both SEOs and LEOs can always use your help. You can participate in the organisation of public health campaigns, workshops and trainings for incoming students, or help with social activities. One of the most famous social events is SEP Weekend, which also involves logistic preparations and organisation of activities for a larger number of people. All of that helps you in gaining more knowledge in project organisation, team work and time management.

  1. Being a tourist in your own city

Showing incoming students around the city is a must-do and this gives you a great opportunity to explore the places that you too have never visited. Additionally, great thing is that you will be hanging around with new people who can also help you see the same places in a different way. This will push you into taking roads and corners you’ve never taken before.

  1. World in one place

The thing that always amazes me about SEP is its ability to gather so many different cultures and people at one place. It feels like you have traveled to several different countries just by hanging around in your own city. Everybody should engage more into welcoming their international friends because that will help them make the most of their experience. Also, this helps you make new contacts around the world and find friends who will also warmly welcome you on your travels.

SEP is more than just an exchange. No matter the reason for which you are considering to do it, you will gain a lot, and the knowledge and friends you gain while participating in it will stay with you through your whole life. At the end, there is only one thing left to say – just do it!

Tajana Iva Pejaković, CPSA Croatia
Best  IPSF Student Exchange Officer 2016/17