The reality of being an exchange student

Candela Francoso Canete

Going on an exchange year is an amazing experience full of fun and unforgettable moments, but, how is really being an exchange student? How is the reality of starting a new life away from your friends and family?

We can not deny that going on an exchange year has gotten more and more popular over the years. To be more concrete, a total of 4.5 million teenagers all over the world decided to be exchange students in the school year 2019-2020, beating every record so far. Due to the pandemic, this number decreased by 16 percent, and although it seems like a really big loss, we can say that the number is still significant.

This graph represents the number of exchange students all over the world in the last three years. We can see how there are a lot of students, but due to the pandemic the number will decrease a little bit in 2020.

These numbers are not surprising. When studying abroad, students are able to speak and learn a different language for their stay, which is such a great advantage because of how important it is nowadays to know how to speak several languages. Even Though students must have a good understanding of the language before coming here, there is always some struggle when communicating. “It is hard to understand English all the time, because sometimes my brain just needs French” says Flore Tailhardat (France)

Another of the advantages of going on an exchange year is all the people students get to know. Not only people from the country they are studying in, but also other exchange students all over the world. This year, SPASH count with 6 foreign students who come from countries like Italy, France, Ukraine, Spain or Germany.

Being new in a high school and meeting people when you are also trying to speak in another language can be challenging sometimes, even more in such a big school like SPASH, but as Margherita Mio (Italy) said “People make it so easy. They always try to help you when you don’t get something and they made me feel really included.”

Even with all of these challenges, all the homesickness and tough moments, living a completely different life for 10 months is an incredible experience, and as exchange student from Spain Adria Prat says “The comeback is going to be harder for sure. We know we are coming back to our countries, but now we are creating a life and making bonds and in less than we think we are going to leave all of it forever.”