Normally, when we think about the word “exchange” in English we think money: exchanging one currency for another. Or we think about returning Christmas presents that don’t fit or that we just don’t like: “We accept exchanges within 15 days of purchase.”
But what about sending your teenager on a foreign exchange? This is possibly one of the best life experiences you can help your son or daughter have.
Here are our top reasons for why foreign exchanges could be one of the most worthwhile experiences your kid can have:
- Learn a new language- While we love the idea of learning a language at home in your daily school or work life, an exchange can bring a whole new exciting dimension to the process. Getting to know real people, having meaningful conversations, and needing the target language for everyday use is a real motivator!
- Experience a different culture, and consequently a different way of life- This goes beyond the “we eat lunch at 12.00” stereotype. Living with another family, even for a very short time, can open your teen’s eyes to different traditions and habits, cuisines, dwellings and architecture, ways people converse, and topics people talk about. Experiencing a different culture at a young age means your son or daughter will find it that much easier to mix with different types of people later in life, be it at corporate networking events, or local council meetings.
- Foster independence- Your teen will live with a host family, and likely be travelling with teachers from their own school, but even so, travelling abroad without a parent means that they need to learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions in a different way than when they are at home with their folks. An important stepping stone on the path to growing up!
- Making new friends, and building new family- The world is a big place and it can seem a little scary. Any time you can make it smaller by forging bonds and connections with people you might not otherwise have ever even met makes the world seem a little smaller– and definitely friendlier.
If you are lucky enough for your kids to go to a school that offers a foreign exchange program, we think it’s a great way to help create strong and capable citizens of the world !