Freemover or exchange student? How to study abroad

Freemover or exchange student? How to study abroad

Hello, everyone!
In today’s post, I will explain some of the main differences between being an exchange student and being a freemover (or free mover).

The freemover definition

Mobile students are usually divided into two groups: Freemovers are students who travel entirely on their own initiative, while exchange students use exchange programmes at a department, faculty, institution, or national level (such as Erasmus, Nordplus or Fulbright). Source wikipedia

Now that you know the fundamental difference, here are the main practical ones.

N°1: Accommodation

The international office welcomes the exchange students and helps them to find accommodation, and follow them during their stay.

As a freemover, you will receive the same help that the usual local student. Don’t count too much on it.

As a freemover, you have to be a bit more prepared compared to an exchange student. For example,  it will be essential to know the basics of the country’s’ national language in order to be more independent for day to day life.

fre mover, street, alone, man

N°2 Money, money, money

Exchange students usually benefit from an existing partnership between the Universities and  they can keep their student status from their home during their trip abroad.  They also receive grants or scholarships more easily.

Freemovers will have the same financial status as “outstate” students, neaning non local students, plus the non domestic/national student. They will have to look for specific scholarships in their home country and their host country to fund their experience abroad.

N°3 Social Life

joung, smile, asian, girl, SVM

Welcoming International students is always a challenge for a University and its students. And with networks like Erasmus, exchange students are often invited to a lot of activities and parties. Not to mention that exchange students often move in groups and stay together in similar places. So their time abroad will be a completely different experience from the one of freemovers, in regard of this aspect. Of course freemovers are welcome to join international student clubs, mostly existing and run by local student life. I encouraged also to join other student clubs to get a perfect immersion and maybe friends for life.

Freemover: Degree or non-Degree student

As a Freemover you have two options (same as an exchange student in that case):

  1. Join a programme and seek a full degree abroad
  2. Follow some particular classes with the possibility to transfer credits when you come back

More and more university are opened to non-degree students or visiting students or auditors, the name change from a university to another.

Going abroad as a Non-Degree student

Why going through all the trouble to go abroad if it’s not to get a degree at the end? Well, it depends on what you are looking for.
You may already have a degree in your field but wishes to learn more in a specific area. You don’t need to take all the classes, just a few ones. So if the university allows you, it may be cheaper and you will have time for a part-time job or/and enjoy more the new country you are in. It’s less engaging too, it can be only for a semester or even a trimester, depending on what you are looking for and also it will be a nice line addition to your CV, of course. 
Just as always, check that you can transfer the credits back home if you want to pursue later in the same field.

Freemover is a game changer for career

International student experience is a real plus for your career. It’s more than just a cultural immersion and meeting new people. It’s about taking 100% care of yourself, show a real an true autonomy in all sides of life : human relationships, paperwork, work focus, day to day decisions, financial choices. It’s about making your own path, without activating your physical roots when a problem occurs. 

And studing in another country without the support your home institution, as a freemover, means you are on your own. You have to find contacts, push doors, communicate in uncertainty to find solutions, whether it’s for setting a local tour trip, or getting some homework support.

For an employer, it means a lot. It means you are ready for a challenge, with less fear. It means you won’t be afraid of language barriers, of international travel, of local adaptation, of mutual understanding. It also says a lot about your management capacity and your autonomy. It show that you will ask for management support only in extreme cases. It shows that you are a solution finder, that you are not waiting for others to take care about your situation, that you know how to plan, how to prepare yourself, how to budget, how to report, how to socialize. It means that you will integrate faster in a professional group and you will find your way  before others.

That’s why it is a real game changer during interviews and is really positive for your career.

Are you ready to be a freemover?

The interesting part in studying abroad as a freemover is to live a much more immersive experience. You won’t be in the special cocoon in which exchange students are. So you will have to push yourself to adapt and truly understand a different culture and environment. And that is quite a challenge, don’t you think?

Become an international student candidate

Studying abroad brings many benefits, but finding the perfect match for your project can be complicated and really time-consuming.
With HigherEdMe, you stay focus on your studies and outstanding opportunities to go abroad will come to you without efforts!
International credits: How to collect them as a free mover

International credits: How to collect them as a free mover

Going abroad as an independent student to collect international credits?

Going abroad during your studies is more and more a big step and it is sometimes mandatory to graduate.  This post will help you to know what are your solutions and what to check before going abroad by yourself as an independent student, often called free-mover by universities. One of the main questions concerns the credit system and international credits.
Check our previous post on the subject: Free mover or exchange student the differences

First, think about your current situation and your international credits options

Here are some questions you can ask yourself now if you didn’t check them yet :

  • Does my current program require to study abroad?
  • Do I want to spend time abroad during my studies?

If you reply yes to one of the first two questions, it’s time to check your university partnerships.

What if you can’t go as an exchange student?

Two reasons can lead you to this question. Your destination choices as an exchange student have been refused by your institution, or none of the partners was of your interest.
You know have the task to go abroad by yourself.
In order to do so, you will have to:

  1. Find an institution
  2. Check with your institution if they recognize it and if the program content is ok for your final degree (labels and accreditations  can help)
  3. Make all the steps for admission in the new institution (check your language level too, you can read our post about English language certificates)
  4. Continue to regularly check with your home school about the validation of the course you will follow there. Make sure you find your international credit context, for example ECTS.

Have a teacher or an administrator on your side

A good way to deal will the foreign administration papers and demands of your home university is to have a teacher to help you to go through. You can ask him to review the program that you will follow and if it matches with your actual program.
He might help you with a recommendation letter too if the international office can’t. And also it is better to stay in touch with him during your journey. Let him know how your studies are going and about what you are learning. The interesting thing about this is that he will not have to discover all at once when you get back. It may help you to validate your credits too.  No bad surprises when you’re going back will be a nice thought as you will be abroad.

Make the most of your summer break

If you are just missing a few time abroad to meet your international credits requirements, you can use a summer program to reach your goal.

It will be relatively the same recommendations to go abroad for a summer than to go as a free-mover for a trimester. If your goal is to come back with international credits, you will have to check with your home institution if they are ok with it. And also, you will have to take in charge the application part.
The best part of summer programs, it’s that they often offer activities to discover the country and the culture. It is not just about studies, but also communication skills, foreign language learning skills, social integration, academic integration and global skills and support.

I hope this post will help you to find the best way for you to go abroad! Don’t forget that the most important things are to look for information early and always check it with your home institution.


Become an international student candidate

Studying abroad brings many benefits, but finding the perfect match for your project can be complicated and really time-consuming.
With HigherEdMe, you stay focus on your studies and outstanding opportunities to go abroad will come to you without efforts!
5 Tips to get through the first year of University

5 Tips to get through the first year of University

If you are going to University for the first time this year, you may have questions on how this big step in your life will turn out for you. For this reason and to help you a bit, I gathered 5 pieces of advice to have a better start and a successful year.


Tip 1: It’s dangerous to go alone!


Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda, showing a famous scene, in which Link receives a wooden sword from a nameless old man.


When arriving in your University, try to quickly find study groups. As a result, it will help you to meet new people. Not to mention it will also help you to understand new ideas faster and you will keep each other more motivated through the year. Working with many people, with a simple organization with WhatsApp, has only advantages.


Tip 2: How to make SOmeone happy = take Him/her to the library


You love your place because it is cozy and home. But for the same reasons, it is also not the most work_focused place you can be. All things considered, the library is the answer to numerous issues when we talk about studies. You have nclose by all the books you can need, a web connection, maybe some friends or the librarian to help you too.


Tip 3: Keep calm and carry on


Keep Calm and Carry On


You may encounter some difficulties along the way, receive a few or a lot 🙁 bad marks. To get through them, you have to keep your motivation up. It’s alway simple if you already have a project for the long term and think about it to re-boost your mind. If you don’t have one, and you are at University to explore what you can do, then don’t hesitate to create a smaller goal. For example, if you have a good first semester, you reward yourself with a trip to a nice place.


Tip 4: Shut Up And Don’t Take My Money!




With your student status, in many countries, you will have access to special prices. Check every time, especially for cultural outings or urban transport. In the same way, ask student associations too, they often give good tips and plans to buy at the best price the things you need.


Tip 5: It’s time for some Me time


It's Time for some ME Time


Don’t forget yoursefl! Take time to stay healthy in order to avoid burnout during the exam period. Eat home-made food regularly. And if you don’t know how to cook, the web is full of recipes for students like you. Cheap fast and easy but good meals are waiting for you. (
Equally important, make time for physical exercise. Universities are full of students sports clubs. You prefer the easy “lazy” solution? Walk a bit faster and say no to lift-elevators, try to go to the next bus/metro station on foot from time to time.


Need more Tips? Check our posts about Tips to prepare for an exam or Tips to get back to school





Study abroad photos 30 years later and scholarships!

I try a new kind of post today. Not quite a press review but close. I will aggregate here some post I found interesting in the week about study abroad stuff. Today summary:
  • A woman has made a second trip abroad, and have made the most logical thing to do during her stay.
  • a post list 15 scholarship opportunities open to African students
  • fact about the benefits of studying abroad

30 years later, nothing has changed for Lisa Werner

During your study abroad trip, you make unforgettable memories. Lisa Werner from California has chosen to recreate them with a second abroad trip 30 years later. You can read her story and see many photos on the HuffingtonPost: Do you parents have done a study abroad trip too? Why not suggest them to go again and have fun with this simple idea 😉    
On this photo, she is standing in front of the Cologne’s Cathedrale. Cologne is one of the 4 largest cities in Germany ( you can read more about Germany and German language here), She was also in France (City of Strasbourg).

Boost your study abroad project with Scholarship opportunities

I think that I may help some of you to realize their study abroad project with this information.
Africa, Top 15 scholarship opportunities It’s a post with a list of 15 scholarship opportunities for African students. Tokyo, China, Australia, Malaysia, Denmark… all those countries are possible destinations with those scholarships. Read the full article here:
I look at them and I find this one really interesting:Read more here : If you are going to apply for one, tell us in the comments why!

Why do more and more people choose to study abroad?

The answer is very simple because, despite all the possible difficulties (Budget, administrative paper, unknown language), students gain a lot with this experience. For the majority of students going abroad means:
  • a gain in maturity
  • a better understanding of their own cultural value
  • a boost in self-confidence
  • new skills useful for their future career
I know that most of you didn’t need to be convinced to go abroad, but maybe this fact will convince your parents if they have a bit afraid to let their child going far away. I hope you will like this post, don’t hesitate to tell in the comments if you want to see more like this one! I wish you a very good day.
Thomas’s interview

Thomas’s interview

It’s been a while since I last published an interview and I make a strong comeback with Thomas, a resourceful and very motivated student. I think he’ll have a lot of success! Discover him through a few questions.


I’ve seen that you want to study 2D and 3D graphic design and also video making, why is that ?

I’ve always been drawn to the cinema and design industry. I’ve always watched a lot of movies (live movies and animation) and series (like a lot of persons). It’s really rare for me to go to sleep before watching a series episode or a movie. I like to use my imagination to send a message. I’m influenced and inspired by a lot of different universes:


  • The Astronomy. I love to look at photos or watch videos taken from space. I find learning more about the things surrounding us very interesting.
  • The Sports with the giants that are Nike and Adidas.
  • The Urban Culture with US rap (Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Big Sean or even Futuristic) and the sneakers for example (Urban Culture is not only about this but this is what inspire me the most).


I think that today’s technological means enable anyone to create quality content.


Indeed, your aspirations are rather wide. But what is your academic background?

I started to “surf” on the web when I was 13. That is when I registered on a forum talking about graphism. I met a large community where everyone would help each other. I could learn Adobe Photoshop on my own. I learnt how to edit images, do compositing, create logos and so on. It was an amazing experience because I was able to talk with people with whom I am still in touch today, that is to say 8 years later. But it was a hobby. I was working on it after School or during my spare time.

I’ve had a rather unusual academic background. I got an A-Level in science and technology of industry and sustainable development with a specialization in technology innovation. I learnt how to create brand new products. There was a creative side but it was still too industrial, which displeased me. I had to study the materials, the mechanical links and I found that it was too binding and a bummer for my creativity. It was during this degree that I decided to learn digital creation. I loved doing it during my spare time so I asked myself “why not try to make it my daily life and live thanks to it?”


Indeed, it’s hard to understand the link between your A-level and the studies you wanted to follow. So, what did you do?

So I went to study a two-year degree in Multimedia and Internet at the University of Marne-la-Vallée. Coming from Lyon, it was a huge change for me but I wanted to leave the family cocoon. The courses were rather general and I mainly had courses on fields that I was not interested in (but I’d advise these courses for those who are hesitating between the different fields in digital).

That is why I’d like to pursue my studies abroad, in the hope of learning new things but in a different background. I still hesitate to target a field more oriented on design or rather on visual effect.


You said in your HigherEdMe profile that you travelled to different countries. What country did you like the most?

Italy is the best trip I did. I loved Florence. The history of this city has always fascinated me. I really loved the cooking, the kindness of the Italian people but also learning more about the country’s history. What I noticed and what marked me the most is that they drive the way they want to. I witnessed a lot of funny situations.


Interesting! Now let’s talk a little bit more about yourself. What are your most significant character traits?

It’s always hard to describe your ownself. I’d say that I try to make my relatives the happier I can. I think that I am generous in the effort, when I have something to do, I give everything I have. I’m someone who is very discreet but also very impulsive.


Why should a School choose you instead of someone else?

On the professional side, I’m sure of my strength, I like to learn from other people, I like good work. The unknown doesn’t scare me. Moreover, I think that in spite of my young age, I have a certain experience in digital creation. I’m able to work in groups but also to be autonomous.


On the social side, I’ve always had the will to travel, discover new cultures, new people.

If an University trusts me, I do the best to do as well. I have precise goals on my mind and I think that to realise them I’ll have to go abroad. I don’t have any special ties with France.

My relatives know I’ve always seen my future abroad . Now it’s easy to keep in touch with someone wherever you are.


Why did you choose America as a destination?

“The American Dream”. I grew up with Hollywood, Looney Tunes, NBA, etc. I have a very idealistic vision of America. I have many good feedbacks from friends who went there. There is a sport culture that I find to be very extraordinary. Sports are like a religion there and that is very impressive to see the show at every meeting. On a more professional note, there were a lot of design studios in the USA and in Canada. My goal is to be part of one of them. As I would like to work in the 3D creation field or in visual effects, I think it’s the better place to be trained.


Are you open to other destinations ?

The USA and Canada are the two destinations that interest me the most to continue my studies.

Though it is true that Japan and South Korea are two countries that would interest me. It’s rather cliché but I like this mix between tradition and modernity. The multimedia culture is very interesting there, video games and mangas are in everyday’s life.

These are really inspiring. A lot of well-known designer come from there such as Hiroshi Fujiwara who is Japanese and collaborated with Nike and Louis Vuitton for example.

There is also Abu Dhabi, I really like the artificial side of the town. It’s the place of excess. This town is really recent and cosmopolitan. I think there is the possibility to learn a lot of things on a lot of different cultures.


What is your biggest dream?

I’ve learnt the hard way that talking too much about one’s project could harm. So I’ll remain neutral on this question 🙂


I really liked his interview so I had to share it with you. We can feel the passion in his words and I hope he’ll get study abroad offers soon. If you want to discover his work, visit Behance


-Emilie, Community Manager

Useful apps to follow you everywhere you go during your abroad studies

Useful apps to follow you everywhere you go during your abroad studies

Nowadays our smartphones do all the work for us and they are pretty useful when it comes to new situations. For example, when you study abroad you can need it to find a place to go, a good restaurant…

I found out for you some really great apps so you might want to have a look. I’ve tried some of them and they are so useful you’ll probably not be able to stop using it even when you are back home.

To help you find free wifi wherever you are

WiFi Map


To stay in touch with the ones you love

WhatsApp : Many people use it in their daily lives but I think it’s much more useful when you’re abroad and need to stay in touch with people. They’ll need to have the app too of course and you can even create group conversations.

Facebook : Well, who doesn’t know Facebook nowadays? Thanks to Facebook messenger you’ll be able to talk in private with people and thanks to Facebook you’ll be able to see what they are up to and share your daily life.

Skype : What’s better than a phone conversation instead of just writing text messages? Well, a video conversation of course! And thanks to Skype you’ll be able to video chat with one or even several persons.


To help you understand people

Google Translate : Need to know the meaning of a word or a sentence? Google helps you 🙂

The Intepreter : You don’t understand people’s accent? Their way of talking? Or you just need to make yourself understood? Well, this app is perfect as it recognises the voices and is able to translate them. A daily useful tool.


To brag about the amazing places you’ve seen

Instagram : Perfect for those who want to share amazing photos on a social network dedicated to that.

Snapchat : Want to send short videos or photos that’ll only remain a few seconds on your friend’s screen? Then Snapchat is made for you.


My PostCard Photocards : Send postcards of photos you took with your phone camera to the people you love and pay for them online. Fast and easy.


To help you travel

Skyscanner : For those who want to find the cheapest flights.

AirBnb : Hotels are too expensive for your small budget? Then renting a room or even an entire flat to private individuals on AirBnb might be the solution for you. It’s cheaper than staying at hotels and makes you meet new people.

Tripadvisor : What about this restaurant? Is it good or not? Read the opinions(and even photos) of people who went there and discover if you should try it or find another oneto have dinner at.

Uber : Taxis can be really expensive. Find a cheaper solution thanks to Uber. You can book your drive online.

GoogleMap : If you are like me and have no sense of direction, Google Map will help you find your way!

Around Me : Need help finding bars, coffee shops, gas stations, movie theaters, hospitals, hotels and many other places? Around Me is the app for you.


To be careful with your spendings

Money lover : Are you scared to spend too much during your trip? Money Lover is especially here for you to help you keep track of all your expenses.


Do you have any favorite app yourself and do you want to share it with us? Then do it in the commentary section and I might add yours to the list 🙂


-Emilie, Community Manager