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5 reasons why you should do an international exchange semester

We asked a current ESMT Berlin student why she decided to spend an exchange semester abroad at Spain’s IE Business School. Here’s what she said.

In short

1. You can deepen your knowledge of a specialized subject

Some subjects may take on new relevance in a new location. Take Berlin, for example. It’s widely known as a hotbed of entrepreneurship and is often referred to as the startup capital of Europe. Therefore, an exchange semester in Berlin is a perfect chance to learn more about entrepreneurship and startups.

ESMT Berlin student Anna Wannhoff was already in the capital city of Germany when she decided to do an exchange semester. So she studied abroad at IE University in Spain, a school that she says is “really focused on the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability.” Her time at IE allowed her to approach entrepreneurship from a fresh perspective, and also bring in some of her own knowledge from her time in Berlin.

“I was really able to further deepen my knowledge in entrepreneurship, get to know some of the startup experience, which is really relevant also in Berlin,” she explains to MASTERGRADSCHOOLS. “Therefore, I’m really happy that I really can top up my knowledge with these topics around entrepreneurship and sustainability.” (00:53)

2. An exchange semester is a chance to represent your school abroad

Business schools and universities often have a number of partner schools around the world that students can visit as part of exchange semesters or study trips.

So, when you do an international exchange semester at one of these partner institutions, you’re also acting as an ambassador for your home university. It’s a chance to share your university’s values and also learn how they overlap with your exchange university.

Exchange programs only give you a short time to make a good impression. In preparing for the exchange, she wasn’t just worried about her grades and motivation letters. She also had to ask herself, “How do you want to present the ESMT Berlin?” (01:08)

3. You can collaborate with foreign students on school projects

At its heart, an exchange semester is all about collaboration. So, if you’re involved in any student clubs at university, it’s also a great opportunity to collaborate with similar clubs at different universities.

“I was part of the Women in Leadership club,” Anna explains. “We also had a similar club at IE Business School, and we did a lot of collaboration. So this was also a starting point for myself that I chose.” (01:34)

Finding a similar club at IE meant Anna could strengthen the links between the two clubs. It was an important point to consider what she could bring to IE Business School given her ESMT Berlin perspective. (1:49)

4. You get to enjoy diverse cultural experiences

You shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that spending a semester abroad is about so much more than studying. It is also a unique opportunity to experience life in a different country – opening your eyes to new cultures, new people, and different ways of thinking. These fresh perspectives will not only benefit your professional career but may even change your outlook on life.

“I would basically recommend for everyone to go to an exchange semester because it is your possibility to really get international experience, intercultural experience, and also just have a great time,“ Anna adds. (01:58)

5. To set a milestone before you graduate

More than anything, an exchange semester is a chance to bookend an unforgettable period of your life: your time at university. Anna says that exchange students should be “open-minded” and “motivated” to make an impact during their exchange, but should also see it as a chance to make more special memories before graduation.

Anna recommends that exchange students enjoy the journey of getting to know other people and study programs. Thanks to her openness during her exchange, she “set a last milestone before leaving ESMT Berlin with a great experience on an international scope.” (02:17)

If you want to learn more about doing an exchange semester abroad, feel free to reach out to one of our master’s ambassadors. They’ll be happy to answer any queries you have about what could be one of your best memories from university.

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