For many students the exchange experience changes their lives forever, introducing them to new cultures, new friends and new adventures. Roman, an AYA student from Germany, shares with us how impactful his academic year has been and why it was so worthwhile.
My name is Roman, and I am a German foreign exchange student who came to study in the U.S. for the academic year. The AYA exchange program has been an important journey in my life so far and has brought many new experiences and friendships with it.
Often I have been asked by friends, “What did the experience really give you besides a lot of fun? Is it really worth it?”
I’d like to share with you what I told them.
What you invest your time in during a year is very significant. A year is going to pass anyways, no matter what you do and where you are. So the important thing is what you do during your year that makes the difference. I suggest, make the most of each moment. According to that ideology, you only gain from the experience and learn new things about yourself and others along the way.
Julius Caesar once said: “Experience is the teacher of all things,” which can basically be applied to many aspects in your life including your exchange year.
It’s how a child learned to walk, a skateboarder learned to skate, an author learned to write and Caesar learned to rule. All of these people have something in common; they once tried something new and unknown and they learned from it. Without trying, a baby could not walk, a skater could not skate, an author could not write and Caesar could not rule. So whenever we are exposed to something new, try it! You will acquire new skills, ideas and impressions. And what better time to try new things than during an exchange year? A student does new things all the time, meeting new and different kinds of people, being a stranger in a foreign country and trying new cuisines.
All these new experiences helped me grow and gain an independence that I did not have before.
Another great aspect about the program is the cultural exchange you have between the the host country and foreign country. I often refer to the exchange program as a friendship between two countries who trust and respect each other. My home country Germany is very far from the U.S. and I only knew a lot of stereotypes before I came to America; Americans are loud, watch a lot of reality TV and eat fast food. I learned afterwards that these stereotypes are not always true, and that my home country and host country share many cultural similarities.
I have lifelong friendships and friends across the world.
In the end an exchange year in a foreign country is a great opportunity that opens many doors of opportunity. It gives you one more year for pondering your possibilities for after graduation, ideas about the future and an experience of a lifetime. You get to know many different and interesting people, improve your English skills and last but not least you have a lot of fun! The exchange year literally changed my life, my personality and perspective on things for the better. And every second of it is worth it! I highly recommended an exchange year to everyone!
Thanks Roman for sharing what a positive impact the AYA exchange year had on your life! What did you learn during your exchange year? Share your stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to give another student a great experience like Roman’s? Learn more about hosting on our website.