2011 - Kenneth Ho from UCD in Melbourne

Going on exchange has changed my life and changed how I view things, as well as making me realise the full potential of my abilities.

I've always wanted to go to Australia and explore this fascinating and beautiful country, so when I found out I’d been accepted to go on exchange to Melbourne I could hardly contain my excitement.  I knew from there on in I was going to have an amazing journey. The prospect of travelling halfway across the world to experience a unique opportunity was both a scary and exciting challenge and the realism of not knowing anybody in Melbourne was at first a daunting thought.  On the first day however, I met the most incredible people from around the world at the orientation day, and I knew I had made the right choice by going on exchange and that I would likely, never want to leave!

I joined the many sport clubs and societies at Melbourne, which allowed me to cement friendships and try some new activities such as surfing and wake boarding. They also organised weekend trips to beaches, which provided the opportunity to see some unexplored areas of Australia that only locals would know about and more importantly, the chance to make new friends.

As a sociology student, going to class at the university was also a pleasure, to learn something fresh, new and different from my home university in Dublin. Gaining an Australian perspective was also invaluable; allowing me a better insight into how another part of the world views the current affairs of society.  

When it came to our summer break, I headed to the great Australian Outback and camped in the desert with my travelling companions. I was always the one that urged my friends to stay in hostels and pay for the extra comfort, but I quickly realised that camping wasn't just about saving money, but rather it was a distinct and different form of ‘travelling and experiencing’ which I enjoyed immensely. The time spent camping and on the roadtrip, also meant I got to know my new friends much better!

Going on exchange was a truly wonderful and extraordinary experience like none other, which allowed me to come out of my comfort zone. It has changed my life and changed how I view things, as well as making me realise the full potential of my abilities. I can proudly say that I am now the Events Manager for ESN UCD society that represents international and exchange students. We organise trips and social events for incoming exchange students across Ireland to ensure they have the same fun and memorable experience that I had. The education I received at Melbourne, the people I've met from around the world and the memories I've made from my exchange experience, are priceless and something I will treasure forever.