There are many amazing partner schools of Quest including India, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Sweden, and many more).
I decided to go on exchange, because I realized one day that I no longer felt justified in my opinions of the world, never having lived outside of Canada. I debated volunteering abroad or simply travelling, but decided no experience is the same as truly studying elsewhere. It is more than seeing a culture or being a tourist, it is learning and growing with the community.
Originally I thought Royal Thimphu Bhutan: ( http://www.rtc.bt/ ) would be the best option for me. Bhutan has the National Index of Happiness (as opposed to the Gross National Product). There is also an option to go on an internship instead of solely doing classes.
In September a lot of signs ended up pointing me away from Bhutan and towards a brand new exchange school in India. Due to my responsibilities as a minister on the SRC, I wanted to be away from campus for as little time as possible. The earliest date other students were going was January, in which case they would be gone for the whole semester. Since we had the exchange school set-up I brought the idea to Melanie (the Dean of Students) of going in October (only 5 weeks away at that point). She told me she would look into it and I had low hopes. 2 weeks later word came and it was a go! Communication was slow as the time-zone is drastically different. Then they went on holiday for 10 days in the same time period when I needed to have more information for my visa!
I spoke with the Registrar to see if I could audit my next class, because my upcoming class is in a subject area I’m really interested, but I would be missing the last 3 days (and potentially another to go to Vancouver for visa application). I then organized with my mentor and my upcoming tutor to see what the options would be for this class. Everyone was incredibly supportive and helpful. In fact, no one had officially auditing a class before, so the Registrar and other members of the staff worked tirelessly to figure out how to ensure that option was available to me.
I received a letter from FLAME that I needed in order to submit my visa at 3am on Wednesday morning of the first day of classes and so ran up to campus to prepare all my last minute documents, emailed my tutor explaining the situation, and headed to Vancouver for the day. 2 greyhound buses and 7 hours later I returned on campus, visa application submitted.
Now is waiting again. I will leave in one week from today if the visa is accepted and fly to India. The exchange school has graciously set-up a host family for me to stay at for a few days in Mumbai before school begins so that I can take part in Diwali (“Festival of Lights” that is similar to New Years).
I am unsure which classes I will be taking, where my residence is (on-campus somewhere), or what the meal plan is like (although I know the entire campus is vegetarian).
I am greatly looking forward to this amazingly intense experience and also have no idea what to expect. I’ve been told of the culture shock awaiting me, but the most other information I have received is: “there is nothing that can prepare you.”
With that in mind, I am ready to go. (As ready as I will ever be).