Why exchange programs?
You have probably felt the urge to do something different. To chart your own path. Life isn’t only about what you see and do in your own country, hometown or school, or even with your friends. What is beyond? You need to challenge yourself, to take a chance. For a school year (or even for a few weeks) you can dare to be different! What makes an exchange student different?
When someone leaves the familiar behind and plunges into the unknown, he or she is showing a commitment to understanding other people, to learning about the world in a way that textbooks and school assignments never reveal. A year spent abroad is a year that will redefine your world. You’ll discover that every moment, every conversation and experience, challenges the way you look at the world.
You’ll see differences as well as similarities in people and their actions, in their beliefs and values. You’ll experience the intricately structured social code of the Japanese, or the egalitarian beliefs of the Scandinavians, considered the most socially progressive Europeans. Suddenly you’ll realize what it means to belong to a certain country and culture. You’ll learn about yourself as you learn about others.
Becoming an exchange student gives you more than knowledge about another country and its language and culture. A year abroad teaches you about building friendships, taking responsibility for yourself, respecting differences and tolerating the beliefs of others.
While you live the typical daily life of another culture, you are learning every minute of every day. You might live in a French city meant for walking, with cobblestone streets so narrow you can touch the walls of buildings with outstretched arms on both sides. Or you may live in a Spanish village where the remains of an entire castle lie. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in Sweden living in a walled city dating back to medieval days, or that your homestay town in Germany includes a “living castle,” an actual private residence still being used today. These are the sorts of discoveries you will make as you learn firsthand about what you have only studied in the classroom until now.