An overseas school exchange program is a very transformational experience. Young people change for the better in many ways and often say that the exchange program is the best thing they have ever done.
Living with a family in a new country and attending secondary school each day, young people gain all of the following and more…
- the opportunity to make lifelong friends in another country
- a chance to really experience another culture
- a greater appreciation of their own country, culture and language
- memories they will always treasure
- the opportunity to learn another language
- the opportunity to become more fluent in a language currently being studied at school
- a chance to improve knowledge of a language never formally studied but spoken at home by parents or grandparents
- a chance to acquire personal skills such as greater independence, confidence, interpersonal skills, self-management ability…
- greater resilience – an increased capacity to cope with change and new challenges
- a global perspective which will be invaluable in all future studies, careers and right throughout life
- a greater appreciation of their own family and country – absence really does make the heart grow fonder!
- a unique life experience and personal achievements to brighten up a Resume. This will instantly make the student stand out from the crowd.
- a high level of independence and the courage to step out of one’s comfort zone. Young people come home with higher self-esteem.
- increased self-understanding. Young people learn what they can adjust to and cope with on their own. They learn how they feel in different settings, what they value and what motivates them. Many also return with a greater appreciation for education and greater enthusiasm about planning for future careers.
Students who have been on an exchange program are generally more aware of social and global issues and often develop a greater interest in the politics and social issues in their own country. In essence, this experience can turn a relatively inward looking adolescent into quite a sophisticated young person with new outlooks, interests and opinions.
Final words of advice…
Do some careful research, attend information sessions and discuss exchange programs with your teenager. There is a financial cost but it’s possible to plan ahead and start saving early. Programs are worth every cent. It’s great if students can contribute something toward the cost of the program. This gives them an increased sense of ownership, achievement and pride. A donation towards an overseas exchange experience can be a great birthday or Christmas gift.