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Man, exchange was going to be great…

young man sitting on bench

(Photo by Anne M. Lykkegaard)

Blog |   07. Sep 2020

By CBS student Nicki Ingemann Iversen 

Man, exchange was going to be great. I was supposed to go on exchange in my fifth semester.

I was going to Taiwan, and it’s what I’ve been looking forward to for 4 semesters. The end goal was basically in sight, as exchange was actually going to be fun, while normal semesters can definitely be difficult to get through sometimes.

Go to Taiwan for 6 months, come home, do your bachelor’s project and you’re done. Sounds like a student dream to me!

And I’ve never lived abroad either! I mean, sure I’ve had holidays in Germany, and I went to the US last year, but Taiwan is so… non-Danish. It’s so different, something I’ve never experienced!

But Taiwan is so… non-Danish

Unfortunately, as you have probably figured out by now, exchange was cancelled due to Corona. Taiwan has actually been doing great despite its close proximity to China, but I guess that’s all the more reason to close the country to foreigners.

And, you know, I’ve been hyping myself up as well. Doing the usual pre-exchange preparations: Getting the vaccines, looking for a place to stay, watching YouTube videos about Taiwanese culture. Around March though, I started getting worried, as Denmark began to succumb more to the pandemic.

I kept my hopes high though! I knew it might be very late that I would be allowed to go, so I continued my preparations and kept hoping! Guess it was sort of an irrational Danish deniability of global problems though.

“Yeah, it’s bad but not going to affect me” type of mentality, if that makes sense. But that’s silly. When did pandemics ever get better? They obviously spread, and don’t diminish.

I actually had a checklist of things on my laptop that I needed to have ready, the costs and the estimated time it would take to get it all ready in case I would be allowed to go late.

Things like “Visa: Not done. Costs about DKK 350. Takes about 1-2 weeks to receive”. That way I knew which date was the latest that I’d have to cancel, and how much money I had to have ready in case I was told I could go like 2-3 weeks prior to expected arrival. In July, I received my letter of acceptance from Soochow University, buuut I checked with the embassy and they still were not allowing foreigners to enter Taiwan.

At this point, I had sort of given up the hope, but since the 2nd round of electives had already passed, I might as well wait for last moment to officially cancel exchange in time for 3rd round of electives. You never know, right?

Well, at the start of August, I ended up cancelling. Oh well, guess I’m going to do electives. I’ve been working a lot during the summer holidays, and considered looking into doing an internship at work (although it’s not really study relevant, I study International Business and Politics, and you can basically make anything fit that if you try hard enough).

Honestly, the worst-case scenario for me was doing electives, as it would be “just another semester”, and at this point I’m beginning to feel sort of burned out. But it was late, and I had gone through the entire, very confusing, process of arranging an exchange that was never going to happen. I did not really feel like going through another one of those processes where you don’t really know what you need to do, at what times and so on.

That was probably the worst part of the exchange arrangement: Not really knowing what’s going on.

You need to find out everything on your own, it’s not often I’ve had to do that. There’s always a guideline or a deadline or whatever. It probably didn’t help that Taiwanese websites and embassies aren’t exactly the most user-friendly sources of info.

a document permission

But okay, let’s do electives. At least I can pick my own courses from the ones remaining, and make it as interesting as possible for me. I like the look of Strategic Management currently, but I don’t really know what’s left for me to pick yet.

Something I’m actually really concerned about is motivation! I think my worst semester yet, learning wise, has been this last one during corona, but I’m sure you all know the reasons. Technical difficulties, poor sound, and sitting at home is tempting to just go lie down for 5 minutes and never get back up to continue the lecture.

I hope the lecturers leave videos again so I can watch them at 2am!

I will probably continue having the Danish “Yeah it’s bad but not going to affect me” mentality in the future

Well, I’ve considered how I feel about not going on exchange. Am I angry, annoyed or indifferent? Honestly, it’s not all bad. It would not have been fun to go on exchange if the situation was that I could go, get lecturing in my dorm and barely be allowed to go outside. In that case, I’d rather just stay at home. And there are advantages!

I get to save some money to spend on face masks and my increasingly debilitating addiction to video games, and I also get to stay in my comfort zone which can be pretty nice. I think most important of all, I get to stay home with friends and family, all of whom I would’ve really missed if I had been gone for 6 months.

And honestly, I think it’s important for everyone missing their exchange, birthday parties or graduation celebrations, that it could be a lot worse.

Putting a trip to another country in perspective against a pandemic responsible for more than 800,000 broken families really makes it all seem insignificant. I haven’t been hit, and I will probably continue having the Danish “Yeah it’s bad but not going to affect me” mentality in the future.

But thinking about it as I write, I feel lucky that I’ve lost my exchange trip, and not my grandmom.


  1. Luisa says:

    Hi Nicki! Great article. I felt the same when I got my internship abroad cancelled back in March, and you are very right: it could always be worse. Now it’s time to dream about the exchange semester in your masters!

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