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Deciding on where to spend a semester abroad, or even a year or two, is an important life changing decision. There is a lot of things to consider, however you can rest assured that whichever part of the world you decide on, if you go with an open mind and ready for an adventure, you are set for the best time of your life. Here are the top three elements to consider when narrowing down your choices for exchange:

1. Culture
The first decision in my opinion to make is what kind of culture you want to immerse yourself in. How much of a culture shock are you willing to experience? This includes the food, the language, the government, and the culture of the locals.

2. Budget
It’s important to have a budget in place when going on exchange as money can run out faster than you expect when abroad. Looking into the exchange rates, as well as any expected costs including rent, food, transportation, internet, and airfare to places you may want to visit when on exchange is important as some destinations are more costly than others in terms of living expenses.

3. Education
If you are like me, you want to go on exchange and have as much free time as possible to travel and that depends greatly on the university’s attendance policy and curriculum. You may also want to consider the impact on your career in the future depending on what you want to pursue. For instance, if you are interested in working in the fashion industry, an exchange to Paris, Milan or New York would be beneficial!

It’s helpful to talk to people who went to that specific exchange school for your program and to exchange students in your home town from that country, as personal experiences and tips those individuals have can make a great difference in your choice! Research is important, so take your time to carefully consider your destination. At the end of the day, this is one of the better decisions to make during your lifetime so enjoy! For those set on going on exchange, the free app “My Exchange” available for iOS has helpful tools from to do lists before you depart to a budget calculator to ensure you stay organized! Check it out here!