ANOThEr great way for teenagers to experience living in a different country is to go for a student exchange programme.
Students can apply for these programmes and study in a foreign school for a certain period of time while being hosted by a “foster family”.
Taylor’s University College student Einul Nadhira Azman for example, got to attend an American high school in Wisconsin for six months after successfully applying for a student exchange with AFS, an international organisation specialising in intercultural programmes (www.afsmas.org).
While she had no problems fitting in at school, the weather was a bit difficult to get used to, especially since it was the first time she’d seen snow.
“My school was pretty diverse in terms of culture. There were so many different kinds of people there, so it was quite easy for me to fit in.
“But the temperature was below zero when I arrived and the snow was knee deep. The winter gear I brought wasn’t nearly thick enough,” said Einul, 18.
Einul and fellow AFS returnee Karthigeyan ramanathan, 16, who spent two weeks in Japan, were both on government funded exchange programmes, the Youth Exchange and Study Programme in the US and JENESYS in Japan. That means everything was taken of – airfare, accomodation, food, and in Einul’s case, school fees.
however, Karthi, a student at SMK Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar, KL, had to learn Japanese in order to qualify for the programme. “I kept calling my foster mum okasan
lah, and I influenced my foster sister to end every sentence with a lah!
“It was a great experience. Students should try it. I enjoyed it so much I applied for it again, and I just found out I was successful! I’ll be going to France at the end of the year for two months,” said Karthi.
Before Ting Tu Wei, 18, did his student exchange programme in Finland, he had never been out of the country.
But without a scholarship, Tu Wei had to fork up around rM10,000 for the six-week stay, a fee which includes airfare, insurance and management fees (visa application, finding a host, etc.). Living expenses were sponsored by his host family.
Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile experience for Tu Wei, who learned some Finnish from his foster brother, while teaching him some Mandarin in return.
“I think the most important phrase I learned was olen nälkäinen, which means ‘I’m hungry!’” he joked.