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  • Writer's pictureLuísa Rodarte

Exchange Programs: What Are the Options?

Usually, when you go on an exchange program, you have several options. Here are three of the most well-known: the first is to stay in a family member's house or on a property that belongs to your family; the second is to stay with a host family, where you will spend a period of time in a house with a native family who will treat you like a part of their family during the time you stay there; and the third and last option is to study in a boarding school, where you will reside.

What is an Exchange program?

A student exchange program is a study program in which students pursue education at one of the international institutions for six months to one year, but yo0u can choose to spend more time in it. It may involve international travel and study for some time, but does not necessarily require the student to remain outside his or her native country. In this article, I will review each of these exchange options, so that you can hopefully understand better how each works and which one you'd like to choose!

1. Exchange in a family member's house:

​​ In my opinion, this is the worst way to go on an exchange experience, since you would be in a house where you already know everyone and you would probably be speaking your native language with family members. Therefore, you would not have much contact with the language you want to learn. However, this option also has its advantages, since you probably wouldn't have to pay to stay in the house, since it belongs to family members, and you also you wouldn't have the chance to be surrounded by people who are not immediately friendly of familiar, since you would already know everyone.

2. Exchange in a host family home:

I think that this option is very nice, because you would have contact with the language you want to learn on a daily basis, which means that you would have a much better chance of improving in fluency, since you will most likely almost never speak in your native language. You would also experience the local culture every day, since your host family will be native. Another positive point would be that you could experience having a different family structure, which could include an older brother, a younger sister, being an only child, having divorced parents…

There are, obviously, also bad elements about doing a homestay. The main one would be if you had the misfortune to go to a family that is insensitive, rude, or who don't treat you well and make you feel uncomfortable.

3. Exchange in a boarding school:

In my opinion, this is the best option for an exchange program, because these are schools where students study during normal school hours, but also sleep and do everything else at school, such as extracurricular activities. Because everyone sleeps in and spends their whole time at school. Everyone is very united, which would give you the opportunity of experiencing close bonds with your classmates and give you an immersion in the culture of the country you're going to.

This option, though, also has its downsides, as these schools are usually more expensive because they provide students with housing, all meals of the day, laundry, trips in some of them, and many other additional things.

The most popular destinations to study in boarding schools are the United States, Switzerland, and England. In the United States, Ross, Bolles, and Cats Boston are among the most popular schools, while in Switzerland Leysin, TASIS and College du Leman are the most well-known, and in England, Cats London.

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