On this page you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about study abroad semesters and Asia Exchange.
APPLYING AND CANCELLING
What is a ”free mover”?
If you’re not able to find a suitable study abroad place through your home institution’s exchange programs, or if you apply for a place, but do not receive it, you can find a study abroad placement on your own. Finding it on your own without the help from your home institution makes you a free mover. Free movers must follow the same rules as all other exchange students on making study plans and meeting their home institution’s requirements about the quality and quantity of the studies completed abroad. The studies completed at the host university can be included into your degree the same way as with traditional exchange programs like Erasmus, or when going on exchange through bilateral agreements. Consult your exchange coordinator beforehand about transferring credits to avoid any surprises after you return home from your exchange. As a free mover you pay the tuition fee of the host university. You can ask about scholarships for free mover students from your home institution as well as from private organizations and foundations.
What subject should I be majoring in to be able to participate in study abroad programs represented by Asia Exchange?
The study programs represented by Asia Exchange are suitable for everyone interested in Asia who wishes to broaden their horizons and get to know Asian cultures. Students combine academics with the other advantages of living abroad and appreciate the experience as a whole. Most participants are students from the fields of business, technology, political science and tourism who aren’t able to find or who do not receive a study abroad place in Asia from their home institutions. Many students from other fields of study also take part in the programs and take interesting electives or focus on a minor. Students from many different study backgrounds take part in the programs and we encourage students to take courses outside their major subjects. You never know how beneficial different kinds of studies may be later on in life. Your major is not an obstacle when you are planning on going on exchange through Asia Exchange. Most often students have been able to add the courses completed abroad into their degrees – at the very least into their elective studies, if not into their majors’ credits. Read more under study credits.
I’m currently doing my Master’s. Can I participate in a study abroad program via Asia Exchange?
Master’s degree students can also participate in a study abroad program via Asia Exchange. There are Master’s level courses as well as whole degree programs available for students at the Siam University and Rangsit University in Thailand. Some Master’s level courses are also available at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, at the Udayana University in Bali and at the Mataram University in Lombok. The other universities represented by us offer Bachelor’s level studies. However, it’s common that students take Bachelor’s level courses during their study abroad semester since it is generally more difficult to find study abroad opportunities on a Master’s degree level. Even if you are already studying at the Master’s level, it can be possible for you to take Bachelor level courses e.g. as a minor or elective courses. We encourage students for interdisciplinary studies during their study abroad semester. Please discuss these opportunities with your home institution.
Do I have to be enrolled at an institution of higher education to be able to participate in a study abroad program in Asia?
Study abroad programs represented by Asia Exchange are also meant for students who are not currently enrolled at an institution of higher education. Our study programs are open to anyone who is at least 18 years old and has completed high school or similar (the exceptions are Kasetsart University and Rangsit University in Bangkok, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Universiti Putra Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka which require students to be enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of the exchange). The study abroad programs represented by Asia Exchange are perfect for students who are taking a year off before continuing their studies since they give students a chance to see what studying at university is like and to plan their future according to their interests. The courses completed abroad can be added to a degree once students begin their studies at an institution of higher education.
Can I go on a study abroad semester with my family?
Yes, you can. Being expatriate is a great experience for your family and can brush up the entire family’s language skills. Your child will benefit from gaining a more open-minded attitude towards new things and your study abroad semester will inspire intellectual and cultural curiosity in the whole family. Many dads and moms have done it before so there are, for example, numerous blogs on the topic online. All of our destinations are family friendly and very safe. There are various accommodation options to choose from, many of them very child-appropriate. You can consider hiring a nanny or bringing an au pair from your home country for babysitting. Both options can be very affordable since, for example, in Asia the wages for nannies are not as high as at home. If your partner goes abroad as well, he or she can also stay at home with the children. In the above cases, the children’s daily routines don’t necessarily differ much from what would be at home. We’ve had students with families in our study abroad programs before and heard wonderful things about children being very flexible and disarming in new situations. Playing overcomes language barriers quite effectively and there are various international schools and day cares in most of our destinations as well.
At what point in my studies should I go on exchange?
Most students go on exchange during their third year of studies but this varies a lot depending on the field of studies. Anyone with a high school diploma or similar is eligible to apply for the study abroad programs represented by Asia Exchange, and we recommend going on a study abroad semester as early as possible (even though it’s never too late to go). Our study abroad programs last from one to two semesters. Students should have mastered basic study techniques before going on exchange to ensure they benefit the most from their time abroad. However, the most important aspect of having a successful study abroad period is having eagerness for going abroad and a good attitude. Many students go on exchange during their second year of study.
Can I apply for a study program after the application deadline?
Asia Exchange can ask the host institution about the possibility of accepting late applications. Please contact us by phone or email if the deadline for the study program you wish to take part in has ended.
Am I required to take an English language proficiency test in order to take part in a study abroad program?
Language proficiency requirements vary depending on the country and the continent. Most of the universities where the teaching language is English require students to take the international language proficiency test TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) and achieve a certain score. Taking a TOEFL test costs about 185 USD and takes time so to save students’ time and money. Asia Exchange has made agreements with the host universities to allow students to take part in the study abroad programs without taking a TOEFL test.
Will my GPA affect my chances of getting a placement in the program?
We believe that all students should study abroad at some point of their studies. A study abroad semester will benefit the students personal, academic and professional development. Therefore we believe that students’ motivation for studying abroad is the real key to success. We don’t think students’ grade point average (GPA) tells the whole truth about their capabilities and, thus, we accept students with lower grades to the study abroad programs at our host universities as well.
Can I cancel my participation in the study program?
When you apply for a study program, you will be charged a 75 EUR (or 50 EUR for Udayana University) fee for administrative costs. This fee is non-refundable because it covers the costs of processing the application and ensures that only the most motivated students apply for a study place through us. Canceling participation in a study program is only possible by a written notice (letter or e-mail). Canceling is free of charge if it is done before the tuition fee payment is due or before it has been paid. The tuition fee is due 30 days prior to the start of the program. If a student cancels his/her participation after the tuition fee is due, but no later than 14 days before the beginning of the semester, (s)he will be refunded 50% of the tuition fee. The tuition fee will not be refunded if the notice of cancellation is received later than 14 days before the beginning of the semester. If the cancellation notice has not been sent by a letter or e-mailed, the student will be charged the tuition fee. The tuition fee is non-refundable irrespective of the time of cancellation. The cancellation policy can also be found in our Terms and Conditions.
Which courses are available at the host universities?
You can find course catalogs and course descriptions for each study program on our website under study programs. The offered courses mainly consist of business, tourism and the local language and culture. On average, students complete 20 – 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) study credits during their exchange. If you are not studying in Europe, remember to ask your home institution how the course credits you complete abroad will translate in your degree. Our partner universities offer high quality education, thoroughly depicted on our website in the exchange reports and blogs which have been written by former Asia Exchange students.
Am I required to wear a school uniform and where can I get one?
Out of all our study abroad destinations, Thailand is the only country which requires students to wear school uniforms. The top is a white dress shirt with long or short sleeves. Women wear black skirts and men wear black trousers. The uniform also includes a belt buckle and a pin with the university logo on them. There are no exact specifications about the design and the materials but, in general, a school uniform should look nice and neat. Our students have said that it only takes a few days to get used to the school uniform and that it’s actually quite practical because there’s no need to spend time in the morning thinking about what to wear! You can buy an outfit in your home country but the easiest and cheapest way to get one is to buy it from the exchange destination. The uniform and a few extra shirts cost about 20 EUR. The host university will help students buy the uniforms during the first few days of classes. Students are not required to wear school uniforms during the first week.
Even in the countries that do not require a school uniform, students are expected to attend lectures in neat clothing. The clothing you wear to the beach is not suitable attire for attending classes. For example, flip-flops and miniskirts are not appropriate.
How can I receive funding for studying abroad?
Ask your home institution’s exchange coordinator about possible funding for free mover studies abroad. We also recommend trying to find information about grants and scholarships that organizations and foundations give students for studying abroad. However, please keep in mind that many scholarships have conditions that students must fulfill, such as completing courses which can be included in the degree etc.
What kind of expenses will I have when studying abroad?
You will receive an application fee invoice with the initial acceptance letter. The university-specific tuition fee will be paid about a month before the beginning of the semester. In addition to the application fee and the tuition fee you should consider, e.g. the following expenses: plane tickets to the destination, vaccinations, insurance, visa expenses and the general living costs in the destination country. Living expenses in our destinations are very low when compared to Europe and North America.
Cash and withdrawing money?
It’s good to take some cash in your destination country’s currency with you from your home country. The most affordable way of getting cash at your study abroad location is to take cash in your home country’s currency with you and exchange it at a local money exchange in the destination country. Remember to compare the exchange rates and be attentive during the actual exchange. We also recommend taking a Visa Electron or a credit card with you. Don’t wait until you’re all out of cash until you withdraw more because sometimes there are malfunctions in the ATMs. If you plan on signing a rental agreement immediately after arriving at your destination, you should have at least the first month’s rent and the safety deposit with you in cash.
PREPARATIONS BEFORE THE SEMESTER
How can I acquire a student visa?
Many countries require longer-term residents and students to have a passport and a visa. The process of applying for a visa varies from country to country and sometimes even depending on the embassy employee with whom you are dealing with. The formalities are often case-specific and may change quickly. Asia Exchange recommends contacting each country’s embassy directly in case there have been recent changes to the visa protocol. You can find more information and thorough, country-specific instructions with examples of filled out visa applications on our website. Remember to check the latest information about the visa application procedure and the required documents from the target country’s embassy.
How is accommodation arranged during the study abroad program?
You can choose for yourself where you want to live during the semester abroad. Asia Exchange has gathered a list of popular accommodation options located near the universities at each location. Some universities also offer a possibility for on-campus housing. You can find information about accommodation on our website. We will also send you our Asia Exchange guide one month prior to the start of the study program. The guide offers detailed information about accommodation options, booking accommodation and other practical matters about living in the destination country. It may take some time to find accommodation independently, especially if you have no previous experience with it. Ask your travel agency for hints if the task seems too overwhelming.
What insurance policies should I buy?
Each student is required to acquire their own insurance which covers the study abroad period. We recommend taking out traveler’s and baggage insurance for the duration of the study program. Ask your insurance agency for more information on different kinds of insurance policies. Contact your insurance company well in advance, so that you will have a copy of your insurance card and proof of the insurance in English with you when you leave.
Which vaccinations will I need?
Anyone traveling to Asia should have the most commonly recommended vaccinations against diseases such as diphtheria and tetanus which remain effective for 10 years (make sure your vaccinations are up to date). In addition, travelers should have vaccinations against polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Most often vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B are also recommended. However, it’s up to the students to decide which vaccinations to acquire before the study abroad program. Ask your home institution’s health care provider or your personal physician for more information.
When should I arrive at the study abroad destination?
You should arrive at the study abroad destination at least a few days before the start of the study program. It will help you settle in and gives you some time to find long-term accommodation before the start of the study program. It is not advisable to travel to the destination weeks in advance, because you need to apply for a student visa and applying for it might be possible in your home country only. You need the official acceptance letter in order to apply for the student visa. The letter will be sent to you at the latest one month before the semester starts. Unfortunately it is not possible to speed up the process due to host universities’ schedules.
The acceptance letter will be delivered a month before the study abroad semester. I am planning to travel to the destination earlier. How can I apply for a visa?
The acceptance letter needed to acquire a visa will be delivered at the latest one month before the beginning of the study abroad semester. Usually the acceptance letter is delivered slightly earlier but the delivery is conditional to the schedule of the receiving university. The acceptance letter can be sent abroad as well, for instance to a hotel address, in case you travel from your homeland notably earlier than a month before the beginning of the study abroad semester.
You can apply for the student visa in your host university’s country’s embassy for example in a neighboring country. This is a good option in case you are doing another exchange semester or an internship in some other country before the upcoming study abroad semester. Please note, however, that it is not always possible to apply for the student visa in a country where you are not a resident. Usually you can only apply for the Chinese and Malaysian student visa from your home country. For the Indonesian student visa you will need a so called embassy letter, which is by default addressed to an embassy in your home country. Read more about the embassy letter.
If you wish to travel to the destination country even earlier than a month before the beginning of the study abroad semester, we recommend traveling there as a tourist and applying for the student visa later from one of the embassies in the neighboring countries that represent your future host country. The official acceptance letter required for a visa can in this case be reclaimed directly from the receiving institution. The application process is similar to what it would be in your home country but please check the updated information on the embassy website of the country in question before applying. This is also due to the fact that only a student visa officially entitles for studies in the destination. Please inform us well in advance of the previously mentioned special arrangements.
Should I get to know the destination in advance?
We recommend finding things out about the destination country in advance, for instance by reading material online and by buying a travel guide (e.g. Lonely Planet). Wikitravel and Wikipedia are great sources of information online. See also the Destination guides on our website.
Should I buy a local SIM card for my cell phone at the study abroad destination?
When settling in to your destination we recommend buying a local prepaid SIM card, for instance from a 7 Eleven/a similar store. A local cell number is one of the cheapest ways of making calls within the destination country as well as keeping in touch with the folks at home.
AFTER THE STUDY ABROAD SEMESTER
How long can I stay in the destination country after my studies?
The residency permit guidelines always vary from country to country. For this reason, when leaving your visa application, we recommend that you ask the embassy officials about possible residency restrictions that may apply to people traveling under student visas. Remember to state the beginning and ending dates of your exchange period and the possible reasons for staying in the country longer (traveling etc.).
How soon after the exchange will I receive my Transcript of Records?
Like everywhere in the world and Asia, it takes up to 4 months to get the transcript of records from the courses you have taken. The host universities are responsible for the transcript of records. We send the transcript of records out as soon as they arrive to our office. Please contact us if, for some reason or other, you are in a hurry to get your transcript. If you have a new address, please inform us immediately.
How can I transfer the credits completed abroad into my degree?
Most institutions accept course credits from abroad into a degree as long as they meet the requirements set by the given institution. Sometimes a course from abroad can substitute for a compulsory course at your home institution or the courses can be added to your degree as electives. The studies you complete abroad will not be added to your degree automatically, you must apply for credit transfers separately from each faculty. You can get detailed information about transferring credits from your home institution. Usually, students are required to submit a transcript of records from the host institution, detailed course descriptions about the courses they have completed and any possible work which has been completed as part of the course. Careful preparation and presenting as much material as possible at the home institution helps ease the credit transfer process. Remember to ask what your home institution’s requirements are regarding credit transfer and read more about them under study credits.
I can’t find an answer to my question
You can send us your question by email and we will answer your it as soon as possible. All our students receive an Asia Exchange Guide approximately two months before the start of the study program. The Guide includes information about the host university, accommodation, practical things and settling in at the destination.