See the world in a new light

Learning a new language has become a top priority for the record number of UNSW students going on international exchange to universities around the world.

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Ding Pang and friends witness the majestic northern lights.

Learning a new language has become a top priority for the record number of UNSW students going on international exchange to universities around the world.

Anna Martin, Associate Director of Global Education and Student Exchange, said that more than 570 students went on exchange last year.

"UNSW now has exchange agreements with more than 200 universities in 35 countries, and we have recently added Belgium, Poland and Israel to the list," Martin said.

"In 2011, the most popular destinations were America, Canada, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. There has also been an increase in students visiting countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany, as well as the Scandinavian countries."

Ding Pang, who is currently studying at the Copenhagen Business School, chose to go on exchange to gain a global mindset.

“I wished to challenge myself travelling alone to a vastly different culture, hoping to return back with greater maturity and cultural awareness,” he said.

For Pang, witnessing the majestic northern lights first hand was “one of the most memorable moments of my life”.

One of the major reasons cited by students for going on exchange was to pick up or improve on a second language.

As an international studies major, Bethany Millar-Powell chose the small French town of Aix-en-Provence for her exchange to immerse herself in a completely foreign environment, which would push her to improve on her French.

“I'm often asked why I didn't go to Paris, where it's possible to get by on minimal French and it's a big expensive city and therefore not much different to Sydney,” she said. “It takes some time to adjust, but the benefit is taking all you can from the experience and becoming a more dynamic student.”

Similarly, overcoming the initial language barrier proved to be tough but rewarding for commerce student Chun Yee Chew, who went on exchange to Doshisha University in Kyoto this year.

“The first day arriving in Japan with horrendous Japanese communication skills really challenged me physically and emotionally. Through challenges such as this, I really came to understand myself more thoroughly.”

Overall, students agreed that overseas study is a fulfilling and enriching experience.

“Exchange may seem daunting, but it is truly worth the challenge. To anyone that is considering going on exchange, it is the experience of a lifetime,” said Pang.

UNSW also offers other global education opportunities including Practicum Research Exchange, international internships, summer school, study tours, volunteer abroad and conferences with over 650 students taking advantage of these opportunities in 2011.

For more information, visit UNSW International.

Media Contact: Lesley Teoh | UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 8732