There are different types of opportunities and international experiences. So it is normal for you to be confused as to which one is right for you right now. Thus, if you are in doubt between an exchange or backpacking abroad, we bring here some pros and cons of each of these opportunities.
Exchange or backpacking: pros and cons
Pros of making an exchange
One of the main pros of doing an exchange is that you have access to different types of financial support. Universities abroad offer several scholarships for foreign students. This can make your international experience much cheaper or even free, since some financial assistance (in addition to exempting the payment of monthly fees) also includes housing and food.
This is one of the main points to take into account when choosing between exchange or backpacking. You will not be helpless abroad if you decide to make an exchange. Having guidance and support from the university itself can make you feel safer and more comfortable in being in a completely different country. You can turn to this team for information about doctors and pharmacies if you feel sick, for example.
Backpacking (even more if you are traveling alone) can be a very lonely experience. As much as some people like to be alone most of the time, for others it can be a real nightmare. At a university abroad there is no such problem. In addition to your classmates, you will have contact and befriend teachers and dorm mates, and you can also join clubs and study groups.
Cons of doing an exchange
As much as you get a scholarship abroad, it may not be 100%. That way, you may end up spending a little, either with housing, food or some part of the monthly fees. In this case, these costs cannot be avoided.
Lack of flexibility
Studying abroad means following a defined itinerary: traveling at the right time, attending classes and activities at specified times and aligning with the rules defined by your university. In this case, it doesn’t matter if you are already an adult, there is not much to escape from these “obligations”. However, this is a great way to develop organizational skills and accountability!
Problems with immersion
You may not be able to fully immerse yourself in the country if you choose an exchange program. This is because it is normal to be busy with university obligations and so inserted in the academic environment that forgetting the environment outside the walls of the college can end up being a constant. In addition, you can become attached to the Brazilian university community and end up not having much contact with students from the country you are in or even from other places.
Pros of backpacking
The main pro of making a backpack is that you are 100% in control of all schedules, itineraries and activities. You decide where and when you go, and what rules you will follow (although it is always wise to follow local laws). In addition, you can make your trip at any time of the year, without having to worry about the approach (or not) of the school term.
Traveling on a limited budget
There are several ways to travel without having to spend a lot. As you have the freedom to choose the itinerary and times, you can choose to stay with friends and relatives living abroad, couchsurfing , temporary jobs, staying in hostels and even visiting various places.
Cons of backpacking
You are your own advisor
With great freedoms come great responsibilities. In many cases, backpacking means that you are “on your own” in a totally different country. In that case, you need to know how to deal with pressure and stress situations alone, without other responsible people to tell you how to act. In addition, in these situations the network of contacts (friends, colleagues and other Brazilians) that you would develop at a university can also be sorely missed.