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UOW student Adelaide Haynes has done her fair share of travel as part of her double degree in Bachelor of Communication and Media and Bachelor of International Studies. But she also learnt a lot from exchange students who came to Australia to study in Wollongong. She writes in her blog about the qualities we should all try to adopt at least once in our lives.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible exchange students throughout my time living in UOW accommodation. They’re people from all over the world, who have embarked on an epic adventure to study for six months or a year, and who were lucky enough to spend their time in beautiful Wollongong. While they’re from all over the world, from many different cultures – they all have one thing in common: an incredibly positive, spontaneous and adventurous outlook on life. I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made, and the things I have learnt from those friends, including how to truly make the most of every opportunity. Here are some of the most admirable things about exchange students.

They’re spontaneous 

If you ask an exchange student what they did on the weekend, don’t expect your stock standard ‘aw, not much,’ because chances are, they actually did something awesome. ‘I went to Melbourne… road-tripped up the coast… went camping in the Blue Mountains… went skydiving’. Exchange students are always doing the unexpected, saying yes. They have their bags packed just in time to get on the next train to, well, anywhere. Their answers will leave you reconsidering your Saturday night Sex & the City marathon.

Adelaide adventures with friends she met overseas. Photo: Adelaide Haynes

They’re productive and balanced

When they’re not jetsetting around the country, they’re busy doing everything else they physically have time for. Playing sports (and trying new ones), getting involved with clubs, going out every second Wednesday night, going hiking, surfing, swimming, exploring… And then on top it off, they get all of their assignments done. It must be the all-rounded balance that they have in their lives that keeps them motivated and lifted, and this is one of the biggest traits that I’m trying to adopt myself.

They’re positive and optimistic

Maybe it’s because they’re free to reinvent themselves in a new country, but most exchange students tend not to dwell on the little problems that life throws at you. Instead, they’ll look at the bigger picture and think ‘hey, it’s not so bad, look at where I am, in a beautiful country with so many opportunities and I’m stressing out about a little essay’. It’s such a beautiful outlook to have on life because it’s so easy to worry, and worry and worry even more about all the little things. But instead, we should just take one big step back, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side.


They’re ridiculously friendly

You say hello and introduce yourself, then and next minute you’re talking about travelling and your favourite country/city/food. They’re all open minded because they’ve travelled across the world to study and are here to make friends.

(One of the bonuses) You’ll have a lounge to crash on in the future

Think of all the people you know from all of those countries around the world and all of the lounges that are just waiting to be slept on. Plus you’ll have a local tour guide to show you around. It’s a win-win situation.


They’re focused and driven

They’ve obviously got their shit together. They’ve organised to study at another university for a semester or two (and as someone currently going through this process, it’s time-consuming and difficult). Plus they need to organise accommodation, living expenses and travel plans, as well as doing something which will positively contribute towards their degree and future… they’ve definitely got a bigger plan. It’s incredibly motivating because it’s something I also want to achieve and lucky for me, I have awesome people to show me how it’s done.

But the WORST thing about Exchange Students… 

Despite all these amazing qualities about all these incredible people, why do they love you then leave you?! You create an awesome friendship and even more awesome memories… and then they leave! So, to all the wonderful exchange students out there – past, present and future – if you could just fix the one tiny little flaw for me, that’d be great… please don’t leave!

*Dedicated to all my incredible exchange friends here and across the world. Can’t wait to crash on your lounge sometime soon.

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