Going in a student exchange program means a student in high or secondary education goes to live abroad for a certain period, in order to learn. The name “exchange” comes from the original purpose of the program, to swap students between countries. Nowadays there isn’t necessary to have a counterpart to come in your place from the country you want to go to. Accommodation is insured by unpaid volunteers: families, single parents or couples who want to host a student. The organization in charge of the program vets the host families.
The period after the World War II was the starting point for these student exchanges, which aimed to a better understanding and tolerance of the participants towards other cultures. Plus, this would have lead to learning foreign languages, so their social horizons would have been broaden.
The typical period of an Exchange program is between 6 and 10 months. This is a short period compared to the several years an international student would spend, as well as the ones on a study abroad program.
Sometimes students participating in such a program can also get academic credit from the host country.
If the exchange lasts 6, 10 or even 12 months, then the program is considered a long term one. Participants obtain a student visa and go to high school in the foreign country they went to.
A student taking part in an exchange program is expected not only to study, but also to get involved in the hosting culture, meaning participating in different activities and practice hobbies. Making friends from the hosting country is being encouraged. To insure students’ safety, there are rules about consumption of alcohol and drugs, driving and dating. Although there may be also travel restrictions, there are programs which provide organized travel tours. However, traveling with the host family is encouraged more.
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