Being Part of a Student Exchange Program Was the Experience of a Lifetime

What’s it like going on an exchange program where you go to school and live with a host family, etc. in another country? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Roxanne Goyer, French exchange student in the Midwest in 2007-2008, on Quora:

I wanted to be a foreign exchange student since I was 14 years old. My parents through that it was another silly idea that I had so they didn’t pay attention at first. I kept talking about it for a year, found an “association” online (PIE France / ASSE) and applied to it on my own. My parents finally saw that I was really motivated about it, we went through all the process and at 16 years old, I was on the plane flying to the US!

It was at that precise time, that I realized that I will be away from my family, my friends and my culture for a year.

It was really exciting and really scary at the same time. I personally had a terrible English level so you can imagine that it was really scary for me! Learning a new language, a new culture and live with a host family was something I really wanted to experience.

I cannot lie, you have a lot of hard moments when you wonder “why am I here?” but in the end, I’m 27 now, and it remains the best thing I’ve ever done.

It’s amazing to live with another family that opens their home to you and treats you like their own child. It’s even greater to be able to go to school, do the same things that a 16-years-old American does and to just live like everyone else.

You grow so much from learning from another culture, away from everything you know, living with other people in a very different environment (I always lived near Paris and I ended up in a small town in the Midwest!).

Apart from learning a new language, you learn so many things about yourself and about others… You really experience things that only a few people can understand!

When I came back home, it struck me. I wasn’t the same. I experienced so much, I was so different than before leaving. I became mature, hard working, independent and really open-minded. You are capable of seeing the world differently and understanding another culture quickly.

I had many ups and down, I faced many challenges and crazy situations (you cannot even imagine!) but I wouldn’t change this year for anything because it really made me who I am today.

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