Post-COVID optimism: why Laos is an up-and-coming destination for aspiring Aussie exchange students


Laos has never been a popular education destination for student exchange programs as many favor bustling cities and better known countries. However, the pandemic has forced exchange students to consider the benefits of going to a lesser known destination. Being a country that doesn’t receive many foreign students, there are numerous benefits ranging from affordable education fees, down to the unspoilt culture and history that the country has to offer. Learn everything you need to know about visa requirements down to the key factors why Laos should be on your list of countries you’re considering an exchange program to, especially if you’re Australian.

Lean together instead of learning traditionally from the classroom

Some education programs will pair you up with a local who is interested in learning English from an exchange student who wants to perfect their Laos language skills. Most of this co-dependent learning takes place outside of a classroom, on field trips to parks, towns, and other attractions. Australian students have long been infatuated with cultural experiences and this is one that is richly integrated into the Laotian way of life. Australian students will be able to immerse themselves into the culture of Laos as well as the language, going home to their country with a wreath of cultural experience.

Lower numbers of exchange students or tourists means lower numbers of Covid-positive cases

When the pandemic first reared its ugly head in late 2019, many people thought that they would be untouched by it. Fast-forward to 2021, many of us have come to accept that it is something that we will have to live with. The economic devastation that it has caused globally will ensure that tourist numbers remain small as people try to recover from two years of being laid off, having entire industries shift, and the collapse of the economy. Therefore, it stands to reason that the smaller a country’s tourism industry is, the safer it will be. For Australian students who have a relatively strong control over the pandemic should mean that they ought to be looking at countries that offer similar levels of Covid cases.

It’s close to home so you don’t have to worry about being stranded

One thing that weighed heavily on all students during the height of the pandemic was how everyone was stranded overseas, without transport home and being far away from family meant that they had to suffer the brunt of the pandemic alone. While airport closure is something that cannot be avoided during lockdown, being nearer to your country would mean that you would be much more accessible in the event of an emergency.

Given the current state of the world, it’s always better to be closer to home and Laos is a great destination for Australians who have a hankering for South East Asian cultures and the tropical climates that they have to offer. One word of warning though, it is illegal to shack up with a local unless you put a ring on it!

Convinced? You can start researching candidate universities with this list below.

Looking for more inspiration on study-abroad opportunities in the region? Check out some recent posts by Asia Options Country Correspondents below!

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Anton Lucanus is a New Colombo Plan Scholar who has lived, studied and worked in Indonesia and Singapore since 2014. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Neliti, a software platform that helps Indonesian universities create digital libraries.

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