Updated: May 31
Author: Irene Gerarduz
Date of Publication: 10/03/2023
A year in the US as an exchange student will allow you to experience the spirit of a real American high school and learn English perfectly. Sports competitions, fun activities, and popular events such as prom and homecoming are typical experiences of American high school. So joining an exchange program in the US you can experience a lot of new things during the year abroad. Wherever you attend your school year in the US, you will recognize so many things that you have already seen in some movies and TV series set in high schools. For example, you will visit clubs, prom and homecoming organizations, as well as Friday Night Football.
Your VISA Sponsor
To take part in an exchange program in the United States of America you will need to get a particular visa, called: Exchange Visitor Program. To get it, you must have a non-profit organization form, recognized and accredited by the U.S. Department of State, in order to certify your participation in the program. Furthermore, the non-profit organization is responsible for the selection of host families and your placement in a local school, and who will be (through their contact persons) your reference on-site during the experience.
As an exchange student, you will be enrolled in a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior class, although most exchange students will take part in the senior year. This depends on your age at the time of departure, your grades, and the rules of the American school that will host you.
When you arrive at the American school, you will meet the academic tutor who will help you choose the subjects for your academic curriculum. Apart from that, you will have the possibility to choose from a wide range of subjects. In addition to math and English (which are compulsory), you can choose 4/5 other subjects to study each semester. Since American programs won’t be the same as those in your own country, you will try to make a choice based on your major, interests, and academic goals.
Therefore your choice may fall, for example, into U.S. History, American literature, and more practical courses such as photography and cooking. Together with the counselor, you will find the subjects and courses combination that suits you best. Additionally sports and extracurricular activities are extremely important to schools in the United States. For a successful experience, it is always suggested to participate in as many activities as possible.
However, many might worry about how to make friends and socialize. In fact, joining activities is the first and easiest way to meet new friends and integrate into the school community.
Some of the most common activities are: cheerleading, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and cross-country running. As a result, taking part in school activities during the year in the States will give you the opportunity to be impressed by the famous High School Spirit.
Living in an American Host Family
American families who host exchange students are voluntary. Therefore, they receive no compensation for their hospitality, and they can choose the student. In fact, families are happy to welcome exchange students and give them an unforgettable school year in the U.S.
As a member of a host family, you will understand what it means to live like an American. Moreover, your host family will illustrate and introduce you to American culture. In this way, you will get the opportunity to learn the language and experience the typical life of an American teenager. Therefore, the relationship that you will create with your host family will last for the rest of your life.
The benefits of a year abroad in the U.S
The year abroad is with no doubt an enriching and unforgettable experience. Obviously, the main advantage is learning a new language and speaking it in all kinds of contexts, from family to school or academic.
In conclusion attending a high school abroad in the U.S. allows you to open your mind to new customs and cultures. This experience also teaches you about a different study method and school system from that one in your own country. All this will give the possibility to grow up and strengthen your personality. Anyway, living abroad at the age of 17/18 years old is a challenge that requires tenacity, enthusiasm and determination.
Thus, a year abroad in America is as much as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and unforgettable. Actually, it’s an experience that provides feelings, bonds, a second family and friendships that remain forever.