Be an Ex­change stu­dent

Eleventh grader, Jonas, tells us about his study abroad pro­gram, which brought him from his na­tive Den­mark to Playa del Carmen for the year

The Playa Times Riviera Maya's English Newspaper - - Beach Life - BY JONAS EBBE­SEN, YFU DEN­MARK

Hello I am Jonas, I am 17 years old, from Den­mark and I am an ex­change stu­dent through Youth For Un­der­stand­ing (YFU). YFU is a non-profit in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion in more than 50 coun­tries. We are one of the world’s old­est, largest and most re­spected in­ter­cul­tural ex­change pro­grams. More than 260,000 stu­dents and their host fam­i­lies have ben­e­fited from the ex­pe­ri­ence. The YFU’s be­lief is that full cul­tural im­mer­sion is the best way to gain the skills to thrive in an in­creas­ingly mul­ti­cul­tural, in­ter­con­nected and com­pet­i­tive global so­ci­ety.

YFU says that, “You will learn to speak the lan­guage of the coun­try you visit in only 10 months.” If this is true, there must be more rea­sons why tak­ing part in a stu­dent ex­change pro­gram is a good idea. I al­ways wanted to be more in­de­pen­dent. Al­though I will prob­a­bly miss my par­ents and my home, I will get to know new peo­ple. Lastly, this pro­gram will give me the op­por­tu­nity to learn a new lan­guage.

Maybe I will make new friends for life. Friends from school will help by invit­ing me to par­ties or to play foot­ball. The peo­ple in Mex­ico are gen­er­ally po­lite, open and wel­com­ing. Com­pared to Europe, Latin Amer­ica has this warm cul­ture where they stick to­gether like fam­ily.

To be­come an ex­change stu­dent is a very big step and it is not easy. I pon­dered whether it was the right thing. I spoke to my par­ents, to make sure they could han­dle a year with­out me. Now, I know that I made the right de­ci­sion.

But there is a dark side of be­ing an ex­change stu­dent. Some stu­dents think they are

To be­come an ex­change stu­dent is a very big step and it is not easy. I pon­dered whether it was the right thing. I spoke to my par­ents, to make sure they could han­dle a year with­out me. Now, I know that I made the right de­ci­sion.

ready, but they get home­sick and re­turn home early. The host fam­ily might not take care of you or for­gets you are there. Around 1:10 stu­dents will prob­a­bly not have a good year. Most ex­change stu­dents have fun, they make a good con­nec­tion with other stu­dents and the par­ents or the chil­dren of the fam­ily. They learn the lan­guage and make friends for life. That is what ev­ery ex­change stu­dent wants.

The ab­so­lutely best thing about be­ing an ex­change stu­dent is that you will have many new ex­pe­ri­ences, you will be more re­spon­si­ble and hope­fully you will speak a new lan­guage. All in all, you will gain ma­tu­rity and be more in­de­pen­dent. As far as be­ing flu­ent in ten months, I am look­ing for­ward to prov­ing YFU right.

Jonas Ebbe­sen

YFU Den­mark

Jonas and his host fa­ther / Photo: Jonas Ebbe­sen

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