Going on exchange is a wonderful opportunity to experience living in a different country with a different culture. However, there is nothing worse than concluding your exchange only to return to your home university and find out that you have not fulfilled all the academic requirements. As such, before you begin to have fun on your exchange, you should settle the boring academic aspects of it. This means taking enough classes to fulfill the requirements of both your exchange and home university.
In my experience, the minimal number of classes required to obtain an exchange certificate was less than the minimal number of classes required by the home university. Classes like orientation and language courses were not transferable to the home university, despite being required to obtain an exchange certificate. The conversion from ECTS to SKS can also pose an issue as the SKS is worth more (specifically, 1.2 ECTS equals only 1 SKS). To avoid these issues after registering for classes students should immediately consult with their home university to find out if they have taken enough classes, and if the classes selected are in line with the home university’s syllabus.
It is also recommended that students take extra classes in the event that they fail a class. Failing classes can happen when you take the risk of picking subjects that sound interesting but you have very minimal background in. It is worth the extra effort in asking your exchange supervisor or other students (especially local seniors) on their opinions of the class. You do not want to be three classes in before your realize that Theories of Justice, a class advertised as a beginners-friendly introduction to philosophy, is in fact, not that beginners friendly. That said, now that you have all the insiders’ information required to settle the boring academic aspects, you can now begin to truly have fun on your exchange. Bonne chance!
(Syadza Annisa Salsabil, IUP HI 2013)