Colin Ho, Deakin Arts student
San Diego State University, USA
I first heard of the exchange idea from an American exchange student in my class. Having lived at home all my life, I thought the exchange program would enhance my employment opportunities. After spending a semester with some of the greatest people I have ever met, I was truly glad I participated in the exchange program at San Diego State University (SDSU).
While the thought of being away from friends and family scared me and I questioned my ability to make friends and lead a reasonable social life while away, in hindsight, these fears were just pre-departure jitters. I was excited to leave, yet nostalgic about home. By staying at the International House, I was able to develop lifelong friendships with people from, France, Sweden, Spain, Australia, USA and the Netherlands. The bond you have for such a short time is incredible and I cherished every moment of it. We arrived as strangers and hugged farewell as students who shared a unique experience together. The highlights, which I will never forget, included us boys in the International House taking cooking lessons from a French girl every week, playing Aussie rules football and traveling around the US to play against other cities and trips to Baja, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Gulf of Cortez in Mexico.
Academically I was also challenged greatly. Being a graduate student I was afforded the luxury of being in a fairly small class and having some of the best professors which SDSU had to offer. I was able to study under a professor who went to Vietnam as a journalist for Stars and Stripes, a creative writing teacher who used to drive Andy Warhol's art around New York and a former communications advisor to US Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
I was also fortunate enough to gain an internship with 10News/ABC before I left. This helped me greatly in furthering my career and gain precious work experience in a very competitive industry. The shows on my network included Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives and Oprah. Through the internship I was able to see a lot of San Diego, as I followed the journalists and photographers chasing stories around town. I even got to meet a NFL Pro Bowl footballer, which was a pretty big deal.
I would recommend to everyone to partake in the exchange program, as being away from home enabled me to learn not only colossal amounts about myself but also about other cultures. It opened my eyes to an array of the most wonderful and sad encounters, which made me aware of how lucky we are and how little of the world I have seen.