Friday, April 27, 2012

Student Exchange Programs: What to Anticipate as a Student Exchange Participant

Are you a high school student who has recently decided to participate in a student exchange program?  Are you a bit nervous about the upcoming experience, wondering what’s in store for you and what you can expect when studying in another country?  Being a participant in one of the thousands of available student exchange programs can be the opportunity of a lifetime.  However, because the experience is something completely new and different, at least in terms of to what you are accustomed, it only stands to reason that you would have some concerns and maybe even some anxiety about the experience—feelings that are absolutely normal when planning to study and live in a foreign country.  To help quell some of your nervous feelings, in this article we will point out several things you can anticipate as a participant in student exchange programs, with a brief description of each of these characteristics.

What to Anticipate in Student Exchange Programs

There are several reasons why high schools students—students just like you—decide to pursue the opportunity to study abroad as members of student exchange programs.  Some join to see how the education in foreign countries differs from that of their own, while others seek the opportunity to visit and learn about a new country, including its culture, customs, traditions and language.  Some simply want to break up their currently monotonous routine, seeking excitement and adventure through an experience that’s totally new.  Whatever the reason was that prompted you to consider participation in student exchange programs; you can bet the experience will contain some unfamiliar traits and characteristics you may not have previously considered.  Some of these include:

·         A completely different routine.  As you may have already read in the study-abroad pamphlet provided by your school, participants in student exchange programs will generally stay with a host family for the duration of their visit in a new country; and with a new living environment there are bound to be some shake-ups to your normal routine.  This new routine, while certainly foreign to you, is a wonderful opportunity to learn about family life and values in another country.  Keep in mind that the members of these families are generally very knowledgeable about the country in which you are staying, and will be a great source of information and comfort, helping you to gradually become more familiar with the customs and culture of the host country.
·         A new school environment.  As an upperclassman in your current school, you no doubt know the ways of that school like the back of your hand.  You know the teachers, the administrators, the bell schedule and where to find everything you need on a day-to-day basis.  This will not be the case when participating in one of the many student exchange programs in other countries—at least not initially.  As a participant of a study abroad program, you will typically study many of the same subjects you did at home, and the instruction will be in a language familiar to you.  This, however, is where the similarities will end.  Studying abroad in a foreign school is a wonderful opportunity to see how the education process works in another country.  This may feel uncomfortable for a bit, only because it is something completely new, but once you learn how things work you will undoubtedly “get into the groove of things” in no time whatsoever.
·         A tinge of homesickness.  For many students, studying in student exchange programs represents the only time they have been away from home for any substantial length of time, and the truth is even the most adventurous of students may begin to miss various aspects of their life back home—their parents, friends and comfortable environment.  This is only natural, but as time goes on, and as you begin to meet and make new friends, your pangs for life back home are sure to subside somewhat, as you’ll be far too busy with life in a new country.

Studying through student exchange programs is a brand new experience, one filled with excitement, adventure and several traits and characteristics that are completely new and different.  These differences to your normal environment and routine may initially be difficult to manage, but as time goes on, the opportunities to visit a new country, learn its culture and customs and make new friends you will cherish for a lifetime, are sure to trump any discomfort and anxiety associated with the newness of the experience.

1 comment:

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