Most of you certainly want to join a student exchange program in which a student from secondary or higher education chooses to live in a foreign country to learn language and culture. In line with the fact, now many institutions offer the chances for students to join the program. Some of them are ASSE International Student Exchange Programs, AFS Intercultural Programs, CCI (Center for Cultural Interchange), and many more.
No wonder that foreign exchange students can be found in many different countries all over the world. Therefore, there is always a chance for you to be a foreign exchange student.
Besides you can go abroad freely, you can take many benefits of joining student exchange program. Besides you can study on a country’s cultural traditions, language, etiquette, and history, by participating in a foreign student exchange or cultural exchange program study, you can secure your future career path.
In this program, students usually live with a host family for a relatively short period of time, often 6 to 10 months. A host family is usually unpaid volunteer that is carefully screened and chosen based on certain criteria.
No matter your host family is a traditional family, a single parent, or a couple with no children at home, for the first time, like many students, you are certainly will experience a little homesickness, but day by day you will enjoy many fun experiences in the cultural exchange program.
Yes, it is indeed that cultural exchange programs represent the opportunity for young adults to be mature on a personal and intellectual level. The personal maturity could include personal growth, self-confidence improvement, and leadership encouragement through independent thinking.
In case you would like to get the most actual information concerning the latest exchange programs, I would recommend contacting the Study Abroad Office at your local university. They will provide you with such facts as: momentary application procedure, formal letters and requirements amongst other important issues.
In fact, there are lots of aspects to be considered essential regarding the selection process. The choice of Mr. or Ms. Right is often described as a mixture of art and science- a good balance between subjective and objective criteria is very important to keep in mind.
Vital issues that have to be taken into account beforehand are described as follows:
Cross-cultural savvy: Applicants have to prove that they are apt to deal with a multicultural setting, since a foreign University actually involves numerous different nationalities. Referring to my former University of Regensburg, I was happy to work as a counselor for international students for several years at the Akademisches Auslandsamt (Study Abroad Office) located on-campus.
This temporary job implied such tasks like taking care of the students regarding administrative, social and academic topics as well as joining excursions to distinctive places and sites within Europe. I would definitely recommend this kind of joy very much in terms of diving into the culture and successfully preparing for the program.
Appreciating Diversity: Mainly candidates with a different educational and environmental background are looked for who share and appreciate multiple opinions. Since the applicants are linking pins to their country, the principle of humanity is meant to be crucial as well.
Motivation and Energy: It is necessary to show a strong motivation and a high degree of energy, in order to take such a program seriously. Its length may vary depending upon ones further plans and imaginations throughout the stay. It goes without saying that applicants have to make sure they can cope with the requirements of the program and their personal responsibilities as well as with obligations over a long period of time.
Goal awareness: Interested applicants have to be fully aware of the fact that they plan ahead fair enough and reasonably, i.e. they ought to know for sure the decisive questions like Why do I apply?, How does the program work?, and What do I expect from it in the long run in terms of academic and personal goals?
Team player: Mostly, candidates are looked for, who like to work in a team, since it has been regarded as an essential trait to get the most out of all members of a team: altruism beats egoism.
Success potential: The candidates’ overall performance will be judged as well, i.e. they should be able to prove a sound basis of their grades so far. Besides, there might be letters of reference or other non-academic accomplishments that may also influence the final decision to a certain extent.
Well-rounded candidates: Basically, the applicants should have a wide range of interests and abilities. It can be advantageous of being a member of; for instance, a student club or other institutions, such as a fraternity. Looking beyond the academic world is simply the key factor.
Down to Earth mentality: One of the most vital characteristics of an Exchange Program is a consistent and rational syllabus of each course, trying to practically guide the students throughout the academic process during the year. Vice versa the students are fully expected to be hands-on as well.
Fun factor: It has been highly appreciated if the applicants are vivacious, have fun to work and are able to lively tell interesting stories, which happens to be an important aspect for reaching a good performance, no matter what you do.
Integrity: Since the main purpose of such an exchange program is to promote educational development the candidates ought to know about the concept of integrity very well. Particularly, when they want to take over responsibility later in their jobs, the value system and the perceptions of belief of their personality eventually determine the ability of an ethical leadership role. Thus integrity is a substantial indicator.
Sooner or later you will have to state the reasons for your intended studies and think about your classes which you plan to take.
In this context, I would like to briefly mention an example for a prerequisite with which I had to comply on a written basis. This specific sheet of paper had the following contents:
1. Please state (in English) the reasons for your intended study abroad:
[Here we go: you had to be absolutely sure to write a paper including the most important pieces of information for the primary selection process. In other words, you should have tried to apply your sound language skills to its best (wording, use of vocabulary, how to structure an essay: introduction, statements, summary etc.)]
2. Please list as specifically as possible the courses you intend to take in both terms:
[For this exercise, I was provided with some major extracts of the official courses at Vanderbilt to cling to when choosing my intended classes to my best knowledge; i.e. you should always take into consideration what kind of goals you have, influencing your choice. E.g. if you plan to have some of your classes acknowledged afterwards, you ought to be eager enough to take courses that might likely be accepted from your professor back home. Therefore, please be seriously aware of this matter.]
Another requirement which had to be fulfilled was the TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language); this will be your official certificate of language proficiency, since speaking the language sufficiently is basically assumed.
With regard to my personal experience, I also had to pass the required Vordiplom at this stage of the application process and to guarantee that I was willing to graduate as Master of Business Administration within a specific period of time. Moreover, I had to hand in the grade of my exam at high school (Abitur).
Now that you have gone the whole nine yards, you will be informed within an acceptable amount of time whether your application has been approved or not.
Upon receiving this approval letter you ought to be immediately game for starting your journey to this new world without having any doubts that you are the lucky person.
Provided that you will belong to the elite circle of selected students from now on, the necessity of paperwork, however, won’t stop: you need to get an official paper that you are going to interrupt your studies for about 2 semesters. This letter should make clear that you will undertake so-called Urlaubssemester, i.e. the purpose of this information is to officially declare that you won’t lose the red thread of your original studies at home. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the total number of semesters you need to graduate in Germany will be accumulated in the academic year, which is motivational by any means. In case you firmly plan on finishing your studies; however, the amount of semesters spent there will be added, which makes perfect sense either.
Here we go again listing the most important key issues in terms of the application process:
-Be aware of personal traits and academic goals.
-Take advantage of contacts with the Akademisches Auslandsamt [i.e. Study Abroad Office].
-Get involved in the application procedure: read literature, ask former students, touch base with the International Office.
-Try to work as a counselor regarding student affairs.
-Choose your favorite university among several options or cling to a personal ranking list.
-Focus upon pre-registration: select proper courses/classes being worthwhile for your career/intentions.
-Make sure that housing/accommodation is being solved for the time being abroad and at home.
-Try to figure out way ahead which courses may be accepted by your professor back home.
-Clarify organizational questions concerning faculty matters and administrative topics.
-Mostly, passing the ‘Vordiplom’ is supposed to be a major prerequisite: keep an eye on your grades!
-Guarantee reliable financial assistance (cost of living, daily expenses, room, board, health insurance fees and books).
Are you ready to get valuable know how regarding the life of an exchange student overseas? I can surely offer you a sound manual encompassing hands on tips and recommendations for such an academic adventure.