Challenging and Changing, Study Abroad


SPASH exchange students 2023

Elena Masala, Hour 5B

You’ve probably always heard about exchange students; maybe from the agency that proposed these intercultural exchanges, but you’ve always overlooked it because you think it’s surreal and something too far away to do. 

Why move?

At SPASH, there is more than one exchange student who, for a short period of their life, trying to live their dream life, which for you is your everyday life. 

Most of the exchange students here in SPASH come from Western Europe, precisely from Spain, France, and Italy, and even a girl from Peru in South America. Why this choice, why the choice to leave your life for a year and come to the US? will pass through your head. Perhaps some exchange students will answer that they needed to change something after living in their original state, which may be for their future, to open their minds about what to do not only in their native country.

How they feel:

It’s a really difficult experience to deal with at this age. One thousand emotions altogether that you have to try to face with courage and strength. Exchange students have expressed various emotions experienced at the beginning of the journey here, thus affirming how much SPASH has been a help to their experience. 

Nervous About The Language 

First when you come from another country where you have never had the chance to learn English, most of the time you find yourself in new situations, and always feel anxious about making a bad impression in front of other people. Likewise, the exchange student Ariana from Peru said “At the beginning, my English was not good so I felt disoriented.”

The first days of school were the worst, always having to be concentrated to understand as much English as possible, you home, exhausted, and with a headache.

Being an exchange student myself, I have experienced these emotions firsthand. Initially, you start thinking and rethinking how to say a certain thing in English, but then with all the stress and fear you say it wrong to other people. 

Scared How To Make Friends

The language was the main problem. All things considered, Coline, the girl from France, said “I was stressed without knowing everybody,” consequently explaining “living with people that at first, you don’t know, in the beginning, you feel scary and uncomfortable.” This is true. Initially, you don’t know how you appear to people or what mentality they have. So, as a result, you are very independent and closed in. SPASH students who have been open to dealing with new realities right from the start, make us feel comfortable.

Lucky Being Here

One of the general answers to “Do you feel lucky being at SPASH?” is the fact that here the relationship between teachers and pupils is different compared to our country of origin. Feeling free to talk to the teachers about both scholastic and non-scholastic problems is very different. 

This made the girls reflect, in which they all expressed that they feel so much pressure and stress in their schools of origin. In particular, Anya from Spain said “ We wear uniform in Spain, and I don’t like this, because I feel no one can have the opportunity to express themselves.”

Consequently, they said that SPASH is a school with many opportunities for different classes to attend, with new experiences, that either help you to form the basis for your future.

Happiness Of American Life

Why do you think I wrote happiness? In short, we are living our dream here. For you, it’s a normal life, and for us, it’s a moment that we have only once in a lifetime. We have the opportunity to be here, in this school, and to be able to attend its programs, like a normal student, is surreal.

To think that living this everyday life now, alone at this age, prepares us for our future is incredible. 

Foreign exchange students have waited so long to come here, it’s finally come true.

This experience changed us, as  the girl from Italy, Giulia Grendene says, “The fact that English is not my native language, has led to a change in the way that I express myself.”

All things considered, being an exchange student has its ups and down. It’s a seemingly simple course but with positive and negative sides. 

SPASH helped our experience to be better; making us meet many beautiful people, willing to help us and involve us in this society and listen and understand us when there’s something wrong in our experience. Consequently, they make us feel lucky and happy that we’re already here.