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Students find new 'homes away from home' through National Student Exchange
National Student Exchange

Students find new 'homes away from home' through National Student Exchange

October 24, 2022 at 3:00pm

Ever wondered what it would be like to spend a semester in Hawaii? Or maybe New York, or even Calgary? Through the National Student Exchange (NSE), undergraduate students have the opportunity to spend up to one academic year studying at other universities in cities across the U.S. and Canada.

Through NSE, students expand their horizons by visiting new places and engaging in different cultures – all while earning credit toward their major by taking classes and living at one of 180 participating, accredited universities.

Sofia Wagner headed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the spring semester of 2022. The “small-town” experience in the snowy Northeast was a stark contrast to life in the Miami sunshine. But she says it helped her see that she may even want to consider a small town for her post-graduation plans.

“[It’s] something I never would have expected to love, but I ultimately realized that it’s an environment I truly feel at home in!” said Wagner, who is a junior majoring in nutrition sciences and a member of the Honors College.

“Going on exchange has not only given me countless new friends and memories, but also the change of pace that allowed me to come back home more motivated and focused than ever... I would highly encourage everyone to participate in NSE and allow themselves the opportunity to explore a new environment, meet people from different backgrounds, and give themselves a space to grow as an individual,” Wagner said. 

Amanda Puga also spent the spring of 2022 studying away from FIU. Her exchange at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) put her amid a community with a dense military population, due to the university’s proximity to the U.S. Air Force Academy and nearby bases.

Living in this community intensified her interest in pursuing a career as a psychologist focusing on military personnel, and she is now considering pursuing a graduate degree at UCCS to achieve this goal.

At UCCS, Puga also spent significant time exploring the great outdoors through skiing, camping, hiking, sandboarding and sledding – and she’s convinced Colorado’s vast and diverse terrain makes it “one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.” Having never lived outside Miami in her life, she says participating in NSE “introduced me to a new type of community that I was able to learn from and appreciate.”

“I would 100 percent encourage other students to take advantage of the amazing opportunity provided by NSE and experience as much of the world as they can! I'm already missing my dorm's view of the mountains like crazy, and I know I will be going back to visit soon,” said Puga, who is vice president of the FIU NSE student club and a junior majoring in psychology and behavior analysis.

NSE participants have the option to pay either FIU tuition rates or the in-state tuition cost of the host school. Priority recruitment for Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 NSE placements begins Oct. 26. Students who are interested in participating in an exchange can learn more about the program at an upcoming informational session on FIU’s National Student Exchange website.


Sofia Wagner, center, attends a hockey game with friends at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Amanda Puga hikes the mountains of Colorado