Stu­dent ex­change

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE -

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.

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