What is Student Exchange?
In my sophomore year, I was curious about student exchange, as my friends were talking about going away for two semesters and studying in another state. I wasn’t very well informed about it because we don’t talk about it with my family – and no one in the family has ever tried being an exchange student.
So I asked Lisa, a friend of mine, what exactly was student exchange. She said it was actually a program where college students (and some high school) were given the opportunity to study in another state – in one of the sister schools – or in another country. Your school gives you permission for this, so after a year of studying in a particular school, everything will be credited and you’d still be promoted to the next year level once you go back to your old school.
It heightened my interest and I thought I had to ask my parents about it, and I was surprised that they agreed immediately! Oh, my mind was racing and I couldn’t help but think of the things that I was going to experience in a whole new state. I was going to live with a host family, whom I hoped then would be as loving and accommodating as my grandmother. And thank God, they were.
My Year as an Exchange Student
Living away from home was not a very easy adjustment for me. I was always used to having my dad and mom watching television with me or talking about anything and everything. Hence, I was homesick for the first few months. I came across some great online advice that helped me manage my depression and homesickness.
Eventually, I got used to studying abroad and learned to appreciate the opportunity that I was given as an exchange student for a year. It was one of the most exciting, interesting, and enriching years of my life. Here’s a list of some great things I learned.
The Perks of Being an Exchange Student
Learning a new culture was awesome. I didn’t know how educational it was to live in a different state. People had different views on things. They had different past times and even the atmosphere was very different. But along with discovering a new culture came the opportunity to learn how to talk and deal with other people. It was an integral part of my personal development and I owe it to the student exchange program.
I made new friends who still are my friends until now. Adapting to a new school was one thing. But. having to blend in with group of students whom I didn’t know anything about was another thing. Initially, it was tough. I would eat alone and I had to find an empty table to do that.
I thought that everyone looked at me differently. But it all just started with a smile on my face and things got more comfortable. People were smiling back at me and welcoming me. These friends I made, they gave me an afternoon’s lecture of what they usually do, their favorite subjects, their families, and their dreams in life.
Home became more special for me. Leaving home gave me a new perspective about my family and the humble house that we lived in. My host family was great and they tried to make my stay with them as comfortable and happy as possible.
Nevertheless, it made me miss my parents and siblings even more. I missed my mom’s cooking and my dad’s never-ending lectures, which I actually found irritating before. Being away from home made me realize that I love my family, and they love me.
A Life in a Year
Lasting friendships, new discoveries, cherished memories, and a greater knowledge of school and life – that is what I got out of my life as an exchange student. Studying abroad definitely gave me opportunities to expand my horizons in career, relationships, and personal development as well. I was fortunate. I am fortunate for the experience.