What is an Exchange Student?
Exchange students are usually students in high school or post-secondary systems of education who leave their home countries to spend anywhere between a few weeks and an entire year within a foreign country. During this time, most must attempt to learn a new language and thus experience the culture through the means of direct application.
Exchange student organizations
Most individuals go on exchange with the assistance of some sort of large, reputable organization known for having previously facilitated exchanges. This entreprise should be expected to find a host family for the student, as well as organizing flights, providing insurance, and helping the exchange student to get a student visa. Such organizations will usually interview a potential exchange student to see if he or she is fit for the program; the students accepted must often attend several pre-exchange orientations to help them prepare for their time abroad.
Be a part of a host family
The majority of exchange students live within the houses of one or more host families during the year. These people are expected to meet the exchange student’s basic domestic needs by providing food and shelter, and are typically encouraged to treat the student like a child of their own – this means that exchange students is expected follow the rules of their host family so long as they are just, reasonable, and suit the regulations of the exchange organization.
School for an exchange student
While on exchange, students typically attend a public school in which all of the instruction is done in their host language. At first, many exchange students find starting school in a foreign land to be worrying because they may have trouble expressing themselves through such means. This makes finding friends and understanding the classes quite difficult. To help avoid these issues, exchange students should consider entering extracurricular activities – the extra instruction and practice in the host language will make a world of difference, and this makes it easier to find some local friends. One must also try to avoid being shy – it is better to try to consistently try to make conversation with schoolmates, as this will help most students to learn more of the language. Things typically become simpler as the year advances and the student’s knowledge of his or her host language improves.
Travel within the exchange country
Oftentimes, exchange students will have the opportunity to travel with their host family or exchange organization. This may involve travel within their host country (often within large countries such as Canada or the U.S.A.), or a voyage to a nearby nation (oftentimes, exchange students go on a small tour of several countries when studying in Europe). These are fantastic occasions during which one may experience more of the local culture, or the ways of a new nation.
Although leaving one’s home country to spend an extended period of time in another land away from family is certainly difficult, exchange students must always try to act responsibly. It is often a good idea to view exchange as a way to practice living independently. Although the host family provides meals and will often help other necessary tasks, such as laundry, exchange students cannot expect them to act exactly like their real parents all the time – students must still be responsible for their own finances, and a variety of other things which they may have never before dealt with alone.
When going on exchange, one must always keep in mind that he or she is taking advantage of an absolutely magnificent opportunity which many other people may only dream of! Even though life can occasionally seem difficult for a young person spending a long period of time abroad, there is much to be gained. During their year on exchange, most students become more independent, self-confident, and culturally understanding, along with having learning a new language. Most previous exchange students claim that the time spent in their host country was one of the best times of their lives, and so it is evident that going on exchange is worthwhile for individuals of the adventurous sort!
Written by: Alana Megan Augart
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