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Top 5 reasons to go on foreign exchange

Top 5 exchange studentWhile on exchange, exchange students will benefit from a multitude of unique life experiences which they might not have had in their native countries – to put that simply, exchange is eternally awesome! The following list includes our top five reasons why going on exchange is a worthwhile life experience.

5. Experience a new culture

While on exchange, one typically has the chance to thoroughly experience the culture of their host country. This occurs through direct application as a result of living with a family native to the region, going to school with true residents of the country, and through various other means. Most exchange students will find themselves completely immersed within a different culture once they have arrived in their host countries, due to differences in the cuisine, architecture, familial tradition, and even the ways in which people carry out conversation!  After having spent a significant amount of time within the host country, most exchange students will find that they have become accustomed to the culture of their host country and will find themselves essentially able to behave in the manner of a local. This excellent learning opportunity typically leaves an exchange student with better understanding for people of all sorts, and can really make young people feel as though they have become “citizens of the world.” After the return to one’s native country, an exchange student will likely enjoy sharing his or her new culture with those around them.

In addition to learning of the culture of the host country, many exchange students become familiar with the ways of life of people all around the world through meeting other exchange students. This is guaranteed to be amusing, and very interesting! (See Reason No. 3)

4. Learn a new language

While on exchange, students have the opportunity to learn a foreign language as they never had before. Bombarded in all directions by the host language after their arrival, young people will learn much more of that country’s tongue than they ever could sitting in a classroom. Being an exchange student is much like becoming a small child once again, and this provides the opportunity to become familiar with the language in the manner of a native speaker – although one may not always perfect the language before the end of their time within their host country, most individuals will find that they have become conversationally fluent if on a long-term exchange. Even short-term exchanges will make a significant difference in the student’s comprehension of the language of their host country, so long as the student is constantly willing to attempt to understand.  Being on exchange and learning a new language will aid students in the future by allowing them to explore new interests, and will likely also help widen the student’s range of future career options.

3. Meet new friends from all around the world

By being an exchange student you will meet friends from all around the world. Your exchange program will have meetings and trips for you where you get to meet other exchange students. It is so much fun when exchange students get together because you have so much in common. You will also meet tons of native friends in your exchange country that you will have a close relationship with for the rest of your life.

Most exchange organizations are present within multiple countries within the world; as a result, an exchange student will typically have the opportunity to meet other exchange students, from a variety of countries! Oftentimes, the program will involve various outings with other exchange students, which are typically quite fun and interesting – it is incredible to see hordes of people from numerous foreign regions interacting with one another, forming friendships and promoting cultural understanding. If several exchange students are situated within the same area in their host country, these individuals will often become great friends, and provide much support for one another during exchange. Being a foreign exchange student is one of the most challenging things a young person may ever experience, and it is wonderful to know people who are facing similar challenges during that time. The friendships one creates while on exchange are often very long-lasting – and studded with great memories!

2. Get a “second family”

A high school exchange student lives with a host family that takes care of you. They will take you to their heart and always welcome you as a member of their family. The attachment with a host family stays forever and will always be appreciated.

The majority of exchange students spend their time living within the home of one or more host families. These individuals are typically expected to act as more than just providers of food and a bed – as they have chosen to host an “exchange” student, most host families really want to create a setting in which they can “exchange” cultures, learning a little about the student’s way of life in his or her home country while helping them to grasp new language and experience the culture of the host country. Many exchange students forge a very strong relationship with at least one of their host families. Through regularly making an effort to become completely familiar with the people within one’s host family, some exchange students come to be seen as a true member of their “second family” and create a long-lasting relationship.

1. Personal development

While on exchange, students are confronted with challenges in everyday life that they will have never before experienced. Everything is new, as the student adjusts to life within a foreign place with a completely different language and culture. Although this may seem utterly frightening, the difficulties associated with everyday life during a year abroad can truly teach a person countless life lessons. At the end of the exchange period, young people typically possess a greater understanding of foreign cultures and diplomacy. Even better, the student will have accomplished something very unique for a person of their age – living independently for an extended period of time in a foreign country, without the aid of their natural parents. Being on exchange is always an emotional rollercoaster, but the moments that are good aren’t just “okay” – they are often amazing, unique, and beautiful all in one! In contrast, the sad components of exchange can truly feel like the end of the world. As a result of homesickness, feelings of alienation, or various other factors, exchange students may occasionally go through times of depression, but these must be ended through the student taking the initiative to go out and enjoy his or her amazing new life! Having enjoyed the good and survived the bad components of a year abroad, the student will return to their home country with newfound strength, confidence, and self-understanding.  Few other experiences can help young people to gain these qualities so early on in life – that is truly the magic of foreign exchange.

Written by: Alana Megan Augart

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