Exchange programs allow students to experience the cultures and curricula of foreign countries. After applying for an exchange program, students must wait until they are assigned to a host family, and the students don’t know where they will be staying until a host family chooses them. After they are chosen, they start the program in about 10 to 12 months. I would like to share my experiences with an exchange program for the benefit of students who may participate in exchange programs in the future.
Initially, I was unaware of exchange programs, but after hearing about them from my dad, I got very interested and applied for one. I was assigned to a family in Michigan when I was a sophomore. When I arrived at my host family’s home, they told me that there was going to be another exchange student, Gurami Kalandia. He was supposed to come a week later. I was nervous about meeting another student and worrying thoughts began to fill my head, like “What if I don’t get along with him?” and “Is he a nice person?” Although I was anxious, I was also looking forward to studying at a new school, Charlton Heston Academy (CHA), and making friends.
|[Picture taken in Chicago. Photo credit: Chris Ghim]|
|[Picture taken on the school bus with my friends from CHA. Photo credit: Chris and friends]|
There were some good events that made the exchange program quite fun. Before I left for CHA, I had the misconception that bullying and racism were common at schools abroad, which made me worried. However, when I stepped into the school, all my concerns vanished. The students at CHA, who are now close friends of mine, were very polite and welcoming. I was a shy person, but my friends helped me get along, making it easier to talk to others and make more friends. Also, I really liked the teachers at CHA. They were all really kind, and their classes were fun. I really enjoyed talking to them. It was easy to start friendly relationships with them because there were many opportunities to have conversations.
|[Picture of me playing a basketball game during the season. Photo credit: Chris Ghim]|
Furthermore, I really enjoyed the basketball season. I was lucky to get assigned to the varsity team, and I had many opportunities to play basketball games with teams from other schools. I liked my team members because they were not only highly skillful basketball players but also very outgoing.
|[Picture with Michigan’s famous bridge in the background. Photo credit: a host parent]|
During the exchange program, I had the opportunity to interview Gurami. I asked him some questions about the exchange program, and he told me that he had applied for the exchange program to expand his cultural horizon by visiting the United States and experiencing the American lifestyle. He enjoyed going to school, and liked the people there. The program was a fun and outstanding experience that changed his life significantly. He also gave some pieces of advice for students who are planning to join an exchange program in the future. One is to “be as friendly as you can” and the other is to “try to stay in contact with your family back home during the program so you don’t get homesick.” The pandemic happened while I was on the exchange program. As a result, I had to leave CHA a couple months earlier than planned, the time I spent there is now so precious to me. From this amazing experience, I was able to make new friends and meet great teachers who I still keep in touch with today.
The Learning Community International School
Chris Ghim firstname.lastname@example.org
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