Here at Student Ambassador Exchange, we look forward to each one of our student’s study abroad experiences. It’s a life-changing opportunity: visiting a new country, really beginning to become “fluent” in another language, tasting new foods, making new friends. Students often ask our interview team: what’s it really like, though? What should I expect? What should I prepare for? We’re so lucky that many of our own staff have been through foreign exchange experiences themselves to be able to answer those questions. So we’ve whittled it down to a list of five things to expect on your exchange journey based on previous exchange student experiences.
Language, language, language: It’s one thing to think that you’ll be improving your foreign language skills when you go to your study abroad program; it’s quite another to realize that your WHOLE day will be in English or French or Chinese or German. From asking to go to the bathroom to how a complicated calculus problem works, the idea of speaking only a foreign language for months on end can be daunting. However, the rewards are so great – by the time you finish, you’ll achieve language skills that would never have developed without that commitment.
Classes: One of our staff credits her previous exchange student experience for actually helping her understand subjects she had difficulty with at home. Because the language gap forced her early on to really focus on what the teacher and her books were saying, she also had the opportunity to really focus on the subject at hand!
New friends (and family!): Of course committing to a study abroad experience is about your education and your language skills, but you’ll also make friends from across the world, and you may even find yourself a little bit scared to leave your “foreign family.” All of our staff who have studied abroad have incredibly fond memories of the friends they made, and many still keep in touch and have an open offer to visit a foreign country any time they can!
New perspective: Being a part of a different culture asks you to think differently. This doesn’t mean that the way any country thinks or acts is better than another, but it gives previous exchange students an appreciation that there are many ways of achieving a goal. You’ll also get a perspective on how you do things and gain an appreciation for your own culture when you return home!
Courage: Above all, previous exchange students tell us that their study abroad experience gave them a sense of courage – there’s nothing scarier than leaving your home for a country you may have never visited to stay with a family you’ve probably never met to speak a language you don’t fully know yet! After that, you’ll be ready to take on your future and the world!
Student exchange is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we salute the bravery, intelligence, and keep-at-it attitude of all of our students in the program. Are you a previous exchange student? Tell us what your experience was like at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved in student exchange and making the world a little bit smaller place, contact us using the form below!