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Imagine arriving in France, England, Germany, Spain, or another country, with all of your papers in order. You check through customs—and then you see your host family, holding up a sign with your name on it, along with a great big “Bienvenue,” “Welcome,” “Wilkommen,” or “Bienvenidos.” You’ve already corresponded with them and exchanged pictures, and now here they are for real! You don’t need to worry about where you’ll be staying or how you’ll get there, because you’re going home with your new host family.
Whether you are a high school or college student, studying abroad is much more than just an academic program that takes place in another country. It is a cultural exchange experience that can and will transform your life. As you learn about cultural differences, you’ll also discover that many ideas, thoughts, and feelings are common to human beings all over the globe. As you acquire new communication skills and improve your ability to be flexible and deal constructively with differences, you will—without even realizing it—be gaining the ability to adapt to new circumstances, a skill that will serve you well throughout life.
When you complete your education and enter the working world, you will find that your experience as a foreign exchange student is a “gold star” on your record. We all know that the world is becoming smaller. Most large American businesses have a global presence and are seeking staff with trans-national capabilities and an understanding of international affairs, both economic and political. As a foreign exchange student, you will become knowledgeable about all of these simply by living and studying abroad.
There is only one thing that could derail your plans: waiting too long to apply. Your school and both governments will need to complete various types of paperwork in time for you to begin the next semester. To further investigate becoming a foreign exchange student, the time to act is now.
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