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How to Prepare for a High School Exchange Program

high school exchange program tipsA high school exchange program can be extremely rewarding. For many students, it’s the high point of their secondary education.

Wherever in the world you are thinking about studying, you will benefit from thoroughly researching high school exchange programs before you commit.

After all, you’re considering leaving your home for up to a year – there is a lot to think about first!

Here are some of the basic questions to ask before you sign up for a high school exchange program. Once you answer these questions, you can focus on the details as you prepare for your time abroad.

Finding High School Exchange Programs

If you’re interested in participating in a high school exchange program, you should ask your guidance counselor if your school has an established program in place.

Some schools have very active programs with significant waiting lists, while others do not have enough interested students to have a dedicated program. Even if your high school lacks its own exchange program, there is likely at least one that serves your city.

Programs vary quite a bit. With some, your family will have to host an exchange student from another country while you are gone, while others offer this option but do not require it.

Look into the details of the high school exchange programs available to you before you make a commitment.

High School Exchange: Academic Requirements

Your high school may have a particular policy when it comes to transferring credits after you study abroad. If you do not find this out first, you could end up having to retake any courses you complete in another country.

So, ask your school counselor or the person in charge of the exchange program which credits will transfer.

If it turns out your credits will not transfer and you still want to travel to another country for your high school exchange program, you just need to ensure you make up the credits before you graduate.

This may require summer school or even staying in high school another year. Consider how you want to proceed with your classes before you sign up for the program.

Once you have a plan in place, you may need to get your academic documents translated to another language. For example, you may need proof of vaccinations and school transcripts before you enroll in high school abroad. Find out about this requirement before you leave for the exchange program.

High School Exchange and Culture Shock

Even if you choose a country in which most people speak your language, it can be difficult to grow accustomed to a new culture.

Of course, this issue may be even more noticeable when you are studying in another language you do not speak fluently.

One way to deal with culture shock is to immerse yourself in the customs and ask your host family any questions you may have. The more you understand about the culture, the more comfortable you may feel performing the country’s traditions.

By the time you return to your home country, you may end up having to readjust after studying abroad since it’s common for students to automatically continue some of the customs they learned in another nation.

It’s also normal to feel homesick while abroad. If you find yourself yearning for your own home, you should find a few things that remind you of it. For example, try surrounding yourself with family photos, or setting up regular Skype chats with friends and family back home. Asking your host family to cook your favorite dish can also help, though you might need to provide the recipe!

You are also advised to talk to students who have studied abroad before, since they will likely have some tips you won’t get from your guidance counselor. After you’ve done adequate research, get ready to experience a whole new culture through your high school exchange program.

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