There’s a wonderful quote attributed to Mark Twain that goes:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.
Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
We can assume, then, that Twain would be quite the fan of student exchange programs, where young people in their prime of learning travel to another part of the world to take in the culture and perspectives of another place. On paper, it’s almost Utopian. But what are the realities? Here are 10 perspectives from actual exchange students:
10. Host with the most
Finding the right fit is a big struggle.
A struggle so hard, it may not even feel worth it.
8. Gettin’ freaky
Wait. Are you telling me…that you still read a physical newspaper?
7. Two minds
Home is where the heart is – which is hard when your heart is split in two.
6. Drama mama
Guess it’s like that everywhere, huh?
It seems like this may have been the right call.
4. Second language
Hey, I can barely speak English, I feel ya.
3. Ill Italiano
Teach us your ways.
2. Chosen family
You can find those closest to you anywhere.
This isn’t unique to being an exchange student, in my opinion. Sadly, it happens to us all.
For all of the ups and downs that a program like this brings, we can hope that a net positive can be achieved; scores of people who have had their perspectives shaped by a bigger world than the one they were born into, who look back on it and smile.
Have you had experiences with/as an exchange student?
Tell us all about it in the comments.