Abraham Ortelius Weltkarte von 1570Viola. What country, friends, is this?
Captain. This is Illyria, lady.
Viola. And what should I do in Illyria?
―Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

An dieser Stelle finden Sie lesenswerte Berichte von Schülerinnen und Schülern des Evangelisch Stiftischen Gymnasiums über die Erfahrungen, die sie während ihres Auslandsaufenthalts gemacht, und die Eindrücke, die sie gesammelt haben, sei es in Europa oder Übersee.

Ein paar Klicks bringen Sie in die große, weite Welt.

The Benefits of Student Exchanges, by Marei Schmidt

Nowadays hundreds of diplomats worldwide work in the public service. Just like exchange students they go to foreign countries but instead of visiting a school there, they have to represent their country abroad. So you could say that exchange students are also basically diplomats, although diplomats represent their country abroad in a different way than exchange students. Diplomats represent their native country’s political agenda in front of the host country’s government in contrast to exchange students that represent their culture and language in front of their host family and friends. About 18,000 students a year do exchanges. The most popular countries are the USA and Canada with almost 9,000 students visiting them. According to some statistics most students at the age of 16 or 17 go abroad for 10 to 12 months. Some people doubt that teenagers can represent their country well abroad. But most students are able to do that because they know the culture of their home country quite well and try to show it to their host families and friends.

But there are not only advantages for the host country and its population but also for the exchange student’s personality. By travelling to a foreign country all on your own you can gain experience you wouldn’t gain otherwise. Another important point is the improvement of language skills. Students that have spent some time abroad come back with a much better pronunciation and command of language. Furthermore you learn about the host country’s culture not only from school books or films but by first-hand experience. Very often this might lead to a culture shock at first but in the end it’s worth it. But why should you want to learn more about other cultures in the first place?

Gaining insight into other cultures and foreign languages can lead to a better mutual understanding. You know why the people in a country do something in a particular way and the value it has for them. You may become more tolerant and learn to respect cultural differences. That is why you have the chance to develop a stronger personality and greater awareness of your own life.

All in all student exchanges may involve some risks such as not being able to easily make contact with other people but nevertheless there are many advantages of going abroad. You cannot just improve your language skills but also gain deep insight into a foreign culture. Most exchange students gain positive experience and a greater knowledge of what is happening abroad.