I am now studying at XXX University as an exchange student. Is this my "exchanging experience" or my "exchange experience"? Am I actually an "exchanging student"?


You are not an “exchanging” student, although at one time you would have been an “exchanged” student.

Originally “exchange students” were students who participated in an actual exchange of students between two institutions or sponsoring organizations, with an equal number of students moving in each direction, as in this 1923 account of the program of the Scandinavian-American Foundation:

STUDENT EXCHANGE - From the beginning the most important and human item in the work of the Foundation has been the exchange of students between American and Scandinavian universities. From the endowment at least six students were appointed annually from 1911 to 1919. At that time Dr. Henry Goddard Leach, then Secretary of the Foundation, solicited pledges from American and Scandinavian firms and individuals to maintain and interchange of forty students annually, ten each way with Sweden and five each way with Norway and with Denmark. In eleven years the Foundation has given stipends for foreign travel and study to three hundred students. Under the twenty-twenty Fellowship Exchange each student receives a stipend of one thousand dollars and is expected to spend at least an academic year in foreign study. To take care of this interchange associated bodies have been formed in the Scandinavian countries.    —World Agriculture, III, 2, 252

After the 1960s, this sort of reciprocal program, funded by the institutions or organizations, evolved into less strictly balanced programs, funded largely by the participants themselves(or their parents). By and large, these programs are now called “study abroad" or “cultural enrichment” programs or something of the sort rather than “exchanges”; but the old label “exchange student" has stuck.

You can call your experience an “exchange experience” if you like, and everyone will know what you mean: not your experience of an actual exchange, but your experience as an exchange student.


You are an exchange student having an exchange experience.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.