Exchange Program Comes with Challenges/Rewards

AHS Exchange Student Opens Up About Challenges of Being an International Visitor


Submitted Photo

First “Woo Pig Sooie”. After the Razorback vs. Western Kentucky game on November 9th, all exchange students decided to take a cool group picture together. Junior Come De Saint Michel from France said, “We lost, but we have lots of fun so nevermind!”. This is the first time, all exchange students have an activity together as a big group together. The field trip was held by DECA Club and exchange students group with total 35 students.

Stella Ton, Staff Reporter

Nu Giang “Stella” Ton is an exchange student from Vietnam at Alma High School. The following is her first-hand account of the challenges and rewards of being a foreign exchange student. She is a member of the PawPrint journalism staff.

EXCHANGE STUDENT – it’s a big word to describe a student! You can’t just go to a different country and be an exchange student! It’s a big ambition that takes time and effort. You need to have good grades, be involved in many extracurricular activities, have good behaviors, pass an entrance English exam, strong finances,… Summarily, you have to be a perfect one! You are doing it not only for yourself, but also for your family, friends, and your country. You’re carrying a mission on your shoulder, it’s stressful but amazing!

First of all, picking passport up and fly to a foreign country yourself, I don’t think a lot of people can do that when they are 16 or 17. Moreover, it’s not a short fly and any unfortunate things can happen unexpectedly!

Secondly, jet lag is the most terrible thing every single exchange student has to go through. Everything at that moment is upside down, it makes you sleepy in the morning and awake at night! You feel exhausted because you cannot get used to the time zone! Combining with missing your family already, you might easily get sick.

In addition, you have to adapt to a new environment which makes it much harder. About host family, you live with people you have never known before for 10 months, the first impression is really important! It decides whether you could get along with them or not. 

Next, make friends, go to school marked as an “exchange student” is the same as an alien drop on the Earth. People talk to you and ask many weird questions. However, not all of them want to become your real friends. They’re mainly just curious about you. As a result, you have to open up yourself as much as possible to find friends! And the hardest thing is to try to balance your life here while still keeping in touch with everyone in your country. Some relationships will end up sadly by distance. 

All of those putting on your shoulder at the same time creates “Culture Shock.” The first months are the hardest time, it determines will you give up or keep going. It’s extremely harsh, not everyone can get through it, but if you could, you will love it! 

Dealing with many difficulties that most teenagers don’t have. I believe all of the exchange students are experienced, matured, and sharpened. Behind their smiles, their strong accents are tons of pressures. They have been through many challenges and difficulties, they learn how to hide their feelings. In their minds, they always need to be happy and energetic, even if they don’t they still try to. Because they understand that no one except themselves can find the keys for the problems, instead of crying and complaining, they stand up strongly to deal with it! 

To sum up, even exchange student’s life is challenging, you have a chance to see the world with bigger eyes. Aware of such a good opportunity that not everyone can have, you admit to fight to achieve the best result and experiences!