Advantages Fantastic, amazing, unforgettable experiences in a birlliant country
Disadvantages Exhange company not very helpful... leaving at the end of it all!!
I haven't been a particularly active member on Ciao so far so I had no idea the range of categories available to read and write reviews on. I came across the exchange programme section and felt very strongly that I should share my experiences of my exchange trip to the USA with other readers who may be interested, or who's children may be interested in participating in such a scheme.It may seem like a strange choice of gap year project, particularly for an English-speaking teenager, but something about spending a year of my life living in the US as an American high school student just grabbed my attention and didn't let go. Most young people who take a gap year between secondary and higher education go to Thailand or Australia, or just waste it away at home, but I always had the feeling that neither of these would be right for me. I didn't feel old enough to go travelling alone and most of my good friends were going straight onto university, and I didn't just want to spend a year living at home.
So when I found a flyer for the exchange scheme in my school library during the first year of my A Levels, I was enchanted. I had always wanted to go to the States and here was a company offering to place you with a family and enrol you in an American High School where you would spend a year of your life making new friends, experiencing so many new things, and living the American dream!! Apart from having a passion for visiting the States, I liked the structured nature of the programme, and even the academic side appealed to me. I knew I had to do it.The first stage of the process is to attend an interview in London with the English branch of AISE. It's pretty informal really, so no need to be nervous, the key is to just be yourself, be enthusiastic about your interests and hobbies, and the programme itself, and about the things you think you would like to do in the States. I can't comment on the success rate of interview candidates, but I was accepted, and receiving the information through the post was so exciting. I didn't yet know where I would be staying, or even in which State, but it didn't matter. I would be spending 10 months of my life there, and it was thrilling.
The costs are quite steep, but cover your flights, insurance, various other things that I don't remember and was too excited to care about, but it was what I wanted to do and I worked a part time job and saved all the money I could for my experience. Host families do not get paid to look after exchange students; they are unique families whose only reward for putting up young people from around the world is for the rich cultural experience it offers both their family and the community. Most host families have students every year, they love doing it so much.I received a call from my host family in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a few months before I was due to go on my trip. It was incredibly exciting and I remember going straight to my atlas to see where it was I would be travelling to. It didn't matter to me, as the exchange programme do not choose host families in big cities like New York or LA, they are all about the true American experience, living normally like other normal American teenagers, so I expected to be placed somewhere I had never heard of before!!
|Fees||Can't remember - around £1,500 I think|
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