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Leaning In To Exchanges

Leaning in to exchanges

At the beginning of this semester, I found myself with quite a lot of visitors! I got two MSc students and one PhD student visiting me at USFQ for an IAESTE exchange, one senior professor from Germany staying with us for two months, and four MSc students from TU Delft doing their multi-disciplinary project with us at USFQ.

Lots of visitors, lots of responsibilities, and lots of meetings as a result.

Here are some things that I have been thinking about in the light of these visits:

  1. Exchanges are great for networking: I have not been traveling for conferences this year, but I have had good discussions with visitors, so that I feel perhaps similar benefits as one may get from going to a conference.
  2. Think strategically: I have tried to assign topics to the visiting graduate students that are to our mutual benefit: for their learning, and for the advancement of my existing projects as well as ideas that I have for future proposals.
  3. Apply: I have been putting projects for exchange students ever since I started here, but didn’t get matches in the past. I have learned that writing more general descriptions on topics of broader relevance (such as sustainability) give better chances to find a match.
  4. Lean on offices: When it comes to coordinating the stay, lean on administrative offices who have experience with receiving guests. They have been able to guide my visitors in terms of housing, visas, and bank affairs.
  5. Give people time for the cultural exchange: When graduate students come to visit a foreign country, they also want to travel and learn more about the local culture. Give visitors the time to explore, have a great experience (hopefully) and become an ambassador for research visits to your university and country.

Have you received exchange students or faculty? What did you learn from the experience?

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