Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Student Exchange: A Summer Camp for Older Teens

If you have ever attended summer camp as a child, odds are you remember the experience fondly. The new and challenging activities, warm campfires with songs and skits and the countless number of opportunities to meet and make new friends during your stay no doubt made summer camp an immensely enjoyable experience and a special place to be during the summer months. Sadly, similar opportunities become few and far between as you get a little older, and by the time you’re a junior or senior in high school they are practically non-existent—unless, of course, you apply to participate in a summer student exchange.

What is Summer Student Exchange?

Summer student exchange programs are an exciting way to spend your summer break and are becoming very popular among older teens as a way to visit another country without spending an arm and a leg. These four to eight week programs are sponsored throughout the world, including countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and even Australia, affording students a unique opportunity to learn a new culture, gain valuable language skills and meet new friends from around the globe. A summer student exchange can be academically-based, in which students study a particular subject (Art in Paris or Marine Biology in Australia), or they can revolve around language programs or even summer employment. Typically, students will study during the morning hours with a qualified instructor who speaks their language. Classroom sessions usually include group discussions and guided practice, ultimately leading to proficiency in the language or subject being studied. In most cases, the credits students earn while participating in the program will count towards their diploma—a fact that gives many students an added incentive to participate.

Once class (or work) lets out for the day, students are free to explore their host country, learning the customs, traditions and language of its people and dining on the local fare. Most student exchange programs include regular excursions to sites of interest within the country—landmarks, museums, galleries and sites of historical significance—places that are usually tied in some way to the subject material they are studying. These trips allow students to observe the daily pace of life in the country and the small nuances that make it so special and unique, ultimately giving them a greater appreciation and understanding of the culture and a wider more sensitive world perspective.

As with the summer camp you experienced as a child, a summer student exchange is filled with new and challenging activities, albeit on a greater scale, and numerous occasions on which to meet new people and make friends. This typically begins with your accommodations, as most programs will pair you with a host family to live with for the duration of your stay. These families, who generously share their homes, meals and their time to make the summer student exchange experience so memorable, will serve as your tour guides and support system during your summer adventure, teaching and answering all your questions and helping to ward off any homesickness. You’ll be treated just like one of the family and be able to visit places such as restaurants, shops, theaters, etc. In many cases, your host family will include someone at or near your own age with whom you can explore all the sights and sounds of the country when you’re not in class.

If you long for the days of summer camp and are interested in experiencing that feeling again, only on a much more mature scale, then a summer student exchange program is definitely for you. While your trip may not include the campfires, archery and ghost stories you experienced as a child, it will feature one eye-opening experience after another as you come to know and ultimately love your host country and its people.

1 comment:

Debi Prasad Chakraborty said...

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