ADAM'S EXCHANGE TO MICHIGAN
"I promise you, if you ever get the opportunity to experience something such as a high school student exchange, I highly recommend you grasp it with both hands and just do it - it is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
"Kia ora, my name is Adam. I am a 16 year old, 6’3ft identical twin and on the 8th of August 2015, I left my homecity of Christchurch and travelled halfway around the world to the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA to take part in an epic journey of self-discovery, exploration and
listened to what I wanted to get out of my exchange and they helped me find the right choice.
America has definitely been the best experience of my life. Not only did I come back from my exchange with amazing stories, but my time away helped me develop into a better person. I now have a lot more confidence and perspective for things, additionally it has taught me to take every opportunity I can get.
While over in San Diego, I met people I know I will be friends with for life. I participated in many school activities and went to lots of places in California. Disneyland would definitely be a highlight. I also went to the zoo, lots of beaches, huge malls, and amazing restaurants. It was everything I had dreamt of and I can’t wait to return. I was lucky enough to have a great host family who took me many places, and I made amazing friends who showed me their favorite spots, places that you wouldn’t know about if you went there on holiday.
Being away really made me feel like I lived there as I adapted to their lifestyle so well and embraced all the similarities and differences. I would highly recommend doing an exchange to anyone. Your Education gave me the opportunity to live my dream, I will always be so thankful."
- Eva went to San Diego, on our short term programme.
EVA'S EXCHANGE TO CALIFORNIA
"Not only did I come back from my exchange with amazing stories, but my time away helped me develop into a better person. I now have a lot more confidence and perspective for things, additionally it has taught me to take every opportunity I can get."
adventure by partaking in a high school student exchange programme. I hope by sharing a little bit about my exchange, made possible by Your Education, I can uncover the inner wanderlust and adventure within you all so that you too can experience your own unique exchange journey with Your Education.
Whilst on my exchange here in the US, I have managed to join and participate in a plethora of different extra-curricular activities and clubs at my school. Since being enrolled at East Kentwood High School, I have managed to join the school soccer team, get the lead in the school play, join a Model United Nations Club and Exchange Student Club, as well as attend many school sporting events such as American Football, Ice Hockey, Soccer, Swimming and Water Polo, all in the space of three months! Doing and joining all these activities and clubs really helped me to meet a whole bunch of fascinating and wonderful people and ultimately helped me gain my confidence talking to the friendly American people.
My USA high school exchange experience truly has been unforgettable. I have learnt so many new things and met so many wonderful people on this journey. I promise you, if you ever get the opportunity to experience something such as a high school student exchange, I highly recommend you grasp it with both hands and just do it - it is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
- Adam Brierley, from Christchurch went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
"Hello, my name is Eva and I am from Christchurch, New Zealand. Throughout my high school years I always wanted to study abroad and I have always dreamt of going to an American high school. Your Education was amazing as they
"Giving up the New Zealand summer was definitely one of the hardest thing about my exchange. Departing from 28℃ Christchurch, to then arriving in snow in 4℃ Düsseldorf, Germany, before heading across the border to the small village of Onstwedde, The Netherlands where I stayed for the 3 months of my exchange. This once in a lifetime experience was a real eye opener, getting to be apart of a completely new family, a completely new culture and a completely new school environment.
In my host family I had my host Mum, Erna, 2 host brothers, Anton (16) and Gido (14), and 1 host sister, Nienke (14). I got along so well with all of my host siblings, especially Nienke, that it made my exchange go a lot easier. My host family did a lot for me whilst I was staying with them, giving me every opportunity that we could get to go out and explore The Netherlands and even the wider Europe. We had day trips and weekends away to cities in Germany (with the border only a 15 minute drive from where they lived), Belgium and they even took me to Barcelona, Spain! Birthday, Christmas and New Years celebrations were huge in the Netherlands, I was pretty lucky to have celebrated my 16th birthday in the snow, which will most likely be the first and last time that is going to happen!
School was probably one of the highlights of my exchange, except having to bike 10km to and from school in the rain, snow or shine, but mainly rain since I only saw the sun about 10 days in the 3 months that I was there. Everyone in my class was so helpful and supportive, they were all so interested in New Zealand and my life back home. My friends would often ask me out to the local cafes for breakfast or lunch during our free hours. Whilst I was at school over there I became quite close to 2 other exchange students, Valentina from Italy and Marcel from Spain. When I first started school they helped me out heaps, they knew exactly how nerve racking starting at a new school in a different country was like. I found school hard, and sometimes a bit boring, trying to keep up with the lessons was extremely difficult. It got to the stage where I was getting children's picture books from the library to take to class so I had something to do rather than just sit there. I think it would be fair to say that my Dutch isn’t so flash because everyone over in The Netherlands were all so fluent in English. The majority of the time I would be speaking English, to my friends at school and to my family at home.
The 3 months of my exchange flew by super fast, and before we knew it it was time to head back to the place where it all began. Tears were shed as our goodbyes were said, promises were made that they would come visit and that I would return someday. Soon enough I realised that it was back to the reality of school, work and life in New Zealand. I returned to New Zealand with an insight of how different life is on the other side of the world, with loads of new friends and memories from all over the world. I am now hanging out until December, when my host family is coming over for a month. Taking them on a roady of the South Island, showing them how beautiful New Zealand is and to give them an insight of the New Zealand culture.
I am so lucky to have been placed with such an awesome family, and to have had such an amazing experience all thanks to the team at Your Education!"
- Sinead, from Christchurch went to the Netherlands for a short term exchange in December 2017.
holidays between 2018 and 2019, with the process starting way back at the end of 2017.
At that time it was a distant dream of mine to travel across the world by myself and strengthen my Spanish language skills; one thing led to another after dragging my parents along to an information evening, all of a sudden I was waving goodbye to my family and the international departures gate at Auckland Airport.
Your Education made each step of the way as easy and as stress-free as possible, meaning when I arrived at my host country I was prepared in every way. Surprisingly, the next two months in Spain went extremely fast however for me it was the perfect length of time. The two months enabled me to form strong connections with my host family and friends, learn more than I could’ve imagined while attending the Spanish High School, and finally gave me a real taste of independence while exploring my city of Santander, which has now left me with the ‘travel bug’!
The highlight of my trip was probably having a host family organized by Your Education that made me feel so welcomed and treated me like one of their own. I had two host siblings of a similar age to me, which also really helped. I was fascinated by the difference of how their family interacted in comparison to my own in New Zealand, and enjoyed every second of celebrating Christmas and New Years in such a cultural swap. I am so fortunate to have been able to go horse riding in the country, visit historical villages, watch amazing street parades, taste the unique cuisine, make life long friendships within the classroom… the list goes on!
Of course there were small challenges faced; for example homesickness, however keeping a positive mindset and getting involved in every opportunity presented to me really pushed me through, because it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity! I would completely recommend a Your Education Exchange to anyone, as no other trip you may take by yourself, with friends or with family will provide you with such a rich experience being fully immersed.
- Zoe from Tauranga went to Spain for two months in December 2018
SINEAD'S EXCHANGE TO THE NETHERLANDS
"I returned to New Zealand with an insight of how different life is on the other side of the world, with loads of new friends and memories from all over the world."
ZOE'S EXCHANGE TO SPAIN
"Your Education made each step of the way as easy and as stress-free as possible, meaning when I arrived at my host country I was prepared in every way."
"My name is Zoe and I have recently completed a two-month exchange to Spain through the company Your Education. This was done in the New Zealand summer
Germany is such a magnificent country filled to the brim with Culture, History, Amazing People, Delectable food, Music and Beautiful Landscapes and Views. I will never forget my time, never in a million years.
In my Exchange, I experienced the best of what Germany had to offer, and it surpassed my highest expectations imaginable in every way. I explored many different parts of Germany and saw it at its finest. Seeing beautiful German Architecture and historical landmarks such as the Köln Cathedral, Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Elbphilharmonie were all wonderful experiences. I learnt the rich culture and history behind them and how they came into existence. And While the temperatures were cold, the people certainly were not.
My Host family were the nicest people I have ever met, period. They were immediately welcoming and made every moment of my time there exciting. I went on trips to other amazing cities with them, and even went to stunning concerts, museums, football games, restaurants, churches, boat and city tours and participated in activities I never ever dreamt of. Christmas and New Years were absolutely phenomenal, and I learnt a lot about the cultural differences between the two countries. It really puts into perspective just how small we are as a country, and how different we are as countries, despite still celebrating the same events. I ate so much traditional German food such as delectable Pastries, Chocolate and Wurst! and went to awesome events such as the Stunning Christmas Markets where I experienced a true German Christmas. I also exchanged some of New Zealand’s culture with them as well. I made two Pavlovas, Anzac biscuits, traditional Kiwi Pies and even a Roast. I was so glad they enjoyed them. I also really bonded with my family and there was never a sad or dull moment with them. In fact. I loved them so much, my family is actually hosting my German host sister on her exchange to NZ!
The school I attended gave me such an enriching learning experience. I learnt so much in my three months it was scary. Learning History, Geography, Sciences, Maths and even English from another countries perspective was such a unique and interesting experience. It gave me another completely different perspective on how another culture works and view things, which of course, was extremely rewarding. The teachers were also very friendly and were very interested in New Zealand culture and life, which I was happy to tell them about. They were also very understanding about language differences and even set me up with a tutor who was a student at the school, to help me learn the language even faster. They had my best interests at heart and did everything they could to support me. I was amazed at my progress with my language skills, by 6 weeks I was already speaking German all the time, and didn't have to rely on a translator at all!
Another awesome part of my exchange was meeting new people and making tons of friends at my school. Naturally, I was extremely nervous on my first day of school, but every single one of my fears melted away when I was introduced to my class. They were legitimately the nicest group of people I had ever met. They were very friendly, understanding, kind-hearted, funny and involved me in every way possible. I never felt alone, and before I knew it, it was like I had known every single person in my class for a long amount of time. They taught me lots about German culture and language, and I taught them about how New Zealanders live, New Zealand culture and even gave them a slice of kiwi culture. I baked Anzac biscuits and gave them classic New Zealand sweets such as L&P chocolate and fruit bursts. You would be very surprised at how many friends you make in such a short amount of time. I was always invited to hang out with them after school, and I even got invited to multiple parties and concerts with them. A definite highlight would be going to the world renown concert hall the “Elbphilharmonie” to see an awesome orchestra play, with all of my friends.
The friendships I made were strong and I will never forget them, nor will they forget me. My last week was incredibly sad for me as the time went by so fast, it just seemed a week ago it was my first day at the school. On my second to last day my class threw me a German-themed party where we indulged in German sweets and food, and also danced, listened to German music and even played traditional German games. They gave me gifts such as a T-Shirt with my name with my classes on it, as well as a framed picture of the class so I would never forget them. On my last day, I threw a New Zealand and German-themed party and quizzed my class on Kiwi Culture and Geography. I got everyone to sign my German flag so I would remember them forever.
Because of my exchange, I believe I have grown in many ways as a person. My exchange taught me to become a much more independent individual, how to communicate effectively, how to speak a new language, how to make decisions under pressure, how to cope with stressful situations, to learn to see things from other perspectives and how to make long-lasting relationships with new people. I believe I am now a more resilient, adaptable, academically adept, confident, well rounded, Individual because of this exchange. I'm already looking at flights going back to Germany!
I would highly recommend doing a high school exchange to anyone. It was the single greatest period of my life and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I have grown so much because of it and I have made everlasting connections. It was truly a “dream-come-true” for me. I explored a new part of the world I never thought I would see and even learnt a new language. This was hands down, the best decision of my life.
Even though my exchange has ended, my journey has not, my memories of my time in Germany are still fresh in my mind and the connections and friends I have made last forever.
Drew from Hawkes Bay went to Germany for a short term exchange in December 2017.
DREW'S EXCHANGE TO GERMANY
"My 3 month exchange to Germany was by far the best time of my life, and I would give up everything just to experience it again."
"December 3rd, 2017 is a day that my life changed forever. It was the day I left my little home of Havelock North and ventured out into the great wide world. My 3 month exchange to Germany was by far the best time of my life, and I would give up everything just to experience it again.
MORGAN'S EXCHANGE TO JAPAN
"If you ever have the opportunity to go on exchange DO IT!"
but it was so worth it. If you ever have the opportunity to go on exchange DO IT!
I was lucky enough to have two amazing girls Lydia and Ata come on exchange to the same country, city and school. We were able to bond so much and create an amazing friendship and so many funny and amazing memories that we can share forever.
Living in Japan is so different from New Zealand, especially the school life. I created so many friendships that I will never forget and my class 2-7 were the most crazy amazing people I've ever had the chance to meet. The memories we shared are ones I will never forget.
I will also never ever forget running four to five laps in the freezing cold weather and the fun times we had in class.
The above picture of me and my class was when they threw me a surprise birthday party. My heart was warmed and I was very happy and surprised!!
My class was so nice and they were all very patient with my very limited Japanese and loved trying to speak English with me. I made so many great friends who I already miss so much and who now hold a very special place in my heart. I can’t wait to go back and visit them.
My favourite part of school was the cafeteria. They had the most delicious food I've ever tasted in my life, I was always happy when I was able to eat there. To anyone going on the Japan exchange I would recommend the curry rice, it was my favourite dish, also the fried chicken is really good.
The experience of living with a host family is so nerve-racking, but once you create a bond with your family you become a part of the family. It was so nice eating together and sharing memories together. My host family were the most kind-hearted people I've ever met. They were so funny and welcomed me into their home with open arms and I am really thankful for that. They will now own a special place in my heart as my second family and I hope to visit them sometime soon.
I was so lucky that in our Christmas break we went on a road trip to the bottom of Japan. I went with two of my host brothers, my host sister, my host Mum and Dad and a family friend who was also an exchange student. This trip was amazing. I was shown the beauty of Japan’s nature, the images of the mountainside and water. It was also a really nice bonding trip for our family.
I would also recommend anyone going on the Japan exchange to go to a game arcade because it was the most fun experience I've ever had. It’s a really cool place to hang out with your friends. I also recommend the owl cafe because it was so amazing. Holding an owl was a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I was really happy I was able to experience it.
The coolest experience I had was bungee jumping in and Illumination Park. It's like a whole lot of fairy lights that create great big structures. It was also night time when I jumped. It was so cool and thrilling . I am so thankful that I now have so many stories from this exchange that I will be able to tell forever.
I want to say a massive thank you to everyone I met in Japan - my host family and all the teachers and students at Nakamura Girl’s High School and Fumi, aka "boss", for making my time in Japan the best experience of my life and something I'll never forget!
Also a massive thank you to Your Education for giving me this amazing life-changing experience that I will definitely never forget and that has created so many amazing storie to share for the rest of my life."
- Morgan, from Wellington went to Japan for a short term exchange in 2016.
"Memories I'll never forget!
The time I spent in Japan was the most life changing experience I've ever had. I was so, so, sooo nervous going on this exchange as it was my first time out of the country,
a second family (her brothers were like annoying uncles that wouldn’t quit teasing me about every little thing and trying and failing to beat me at baseball) and helped me to get settled in a completely foreign country.
Over the course of the 11 months of my exchange Sue took me to see among other things; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, to a potato festival a few towns over, snowboarding, to see a bunch of statues around ND, Native American sites, museums everywhere, parades, musicals, ice hockey games, football games, a circus (the first one I’ve ever seen with actual elephants and tigers), arcades, trick or treating, zoos, concerts, state parks (like Itasca state park where the beginning of the Mississippi river is), wild west towns, the annual Medora musical, Washington DC, I toured the Pentagon and the Capitol building, Arlington Cemetery, Disneyland, EPCOT, Universal Studios, Earth and space museum, the White House, monuments, Yellowstone, Harry Potter Wizarding World (which was a dream of mine since I was 10 that was so incredibly amazing), Hershey Chocolate factory, rodeos. I stood barely 10-metres from a massive herd of bison and saw a wolf not even five metres from me driving through Yellowstone National Park! This barely even scratches the surface of what Sue gave me throughout the year.
The highlight of my exchange is pretty much the entire year. I went on two week-long stays in New York and California/Arizona. My stay in New York was absolutely amazing. I met so many incredible people from all over the world and the country and saw so many amazing things (it also got me addicted to Starbucks, a habit I can no longer afford to keep). The old buildings, Wall street, Matilda the musical, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, hundreds of Santas (for a Santa parade apparently), Wall Street, China Town, Brooklyn bridge, the Museum of Natural History and so many other amazing places. The people I met there I still talk to now, eight months after first meeting them.
My second tour was just as amazing as the first with seeing and going to places like Knott's Berry Farm, Venice beach, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hillary Clinton in a limo, Kylie Jenner and Tyga, Universal Studios, Las Vegas, a live stripper tease show on the Vegas strip, and the Nevada Red Rock canyon. I now have plans to travel to places like Germany, Brazil, Italy, Thailand and Spain - just to visit people I’ve met on these trips.
The best decision I have ever made in my entire life was going on this exchange, it has changed me so much as a person. From slightly shy and self-conscious to someone that isn’t afraid to share their opinions and terrible jokes.
Part of this has been my amazing second family and the other part is my amazing best friends that I have made. I wouldn’t be where I am without these 11 months - friends, family and a town called West Fargo.
- Madison Jones, from Rotorua went to West Fargo, USA.
MADISON'S EXCHANGE TO NORTH DAKOTA
"The best decision I have ever made in my entire life was going on this exchange, it has changed me so much as a person. From slightly shy and self-conscious to someone that isn’t afraid to share their opinions and terrible jokes."
I am entirely sure I had the best host family that anyone has ever had. I lived with just one lady who’s pretty much an aunt to me now in a lovely house that easily became my home. Sue (my host mom) and her friend Patty (who also became like an aunt to me), took me to so many amazing places, connected me to amazing people, gave me
It's rather difficult putting an experience like this into words, but I think it's safe to say that my exchange in Italy is one which I shall remember and cherish for the rest of my life!
The day after my 16th birthday, my identical twin sister, Alex, and I left Auckland (and sunny New Zealand behind) to fly to Milan. I remember nervously waiting at the baggage claim, saying to Alex (whose host family also lived in North Italy) that we didn’t know what was to come, but we knew these 2 months would be the time of our lives! That couldn’t be more true.
Passing through the exit gates, we were greeted by two very excited families and, immediately, I felt welcomed into the family. After we ate pizza, I waved goodbye to my sister and my new family drove us home to Ornago, a very small town outside Monza.
My host family consisted of my host mother, father, two boys (aged 12 and 16), and a guinea pig! Many exchange students claim that they had the best host family in the world, and I definitely include myself in that group of people! My host family were incredibly generous, kind and shared the Italian way of life with me- I will be forever grateful for this!
School, which I attended for 2 weeks before the Christmas holidays and 4 weeks after, was such a different, yet invaluable experience. My host brother, who went to school with me, introduced me to my classmates and his friends. They were all incredibly bubbly and kind and made me feel very welcome.
At my school (Liceo Artistico), I had 12 subjects (most which I’d never had before), so I had a blast trying new activities and learning completely new content. I was the only exchange student at the school, and everyone wanted to learn about this exotic New Zealand (no, not Australia and not the place with kangaroos)!
I baked my class, and my host family, afghans, mousetraps and (to their horror) gave them a taste of marmite- which is not the equivalent of nutella. Much to my delight, they were extremely enthusiastic about sharing their culture with me. My teachers were the loveliest and everyone made such an effort to ensure I had the full Italian experience!
Although I had been learning Italian for about 2 months, after my exchange, I’d improved so much and I could actually have and understand a proper conversation. This doesn’t sound impressive, but it just showed me the difference complete immersion makes in learning a language.
As well as making lasting friendships with Italians, I met some awesome exchange students! Another favourite day of mine was when I spent the afternoon in Monza, and then about a week later in Milan with three fellow Kiwis! We wandered around the amazing city, eating amazing gelato, focaccia, pastries and exploring the ‘fashion capital’ of the world!
The Christmas holidays were amazing! It was winter for starters, meaning there was snow!
On Christmas Eve, my host family spent the night with their family (who just happened to be my sister's host family). The food and company was incredible!
Christmas day too was a very special event, where I met more family and ate fantastic dishes. Although I was away from home, I didn’t really miss it as I was having too much fun! New Year’s Eve (Capodanno) is also something I fondly remember! I spent the evening with my host family and their friends, eating until my stomach felt like it would explode (a pattern of my time here!), singing karaoke (in Italian) until the early hours of the morning, and soaking up the authentic vibe of Italian life.
I was really fortunate because my host mother’s family lived near Venice, meaning I got to visit some incredible places! I love travelling with my own family to foreign countries, but being shown around by people who know the place best is another story! Visiting different towns (‘paeases’), cities and enjoying the gorgeous scenery was understandably something I loved, however, some of my other highlights just included being surrounded by some awesome people!
If you’re thinking I’m too briefly touching on the subject of food, then I’ll just say I am trying to restrain myself!! My host father, despite not speaking a word of English, made such an effort to point out the variety of pasta and cheese in the supermarkets, and he inducted me into the secret & ancient league of tiramisu makers! My host family treated me with such delicious food (which words cannot even describe), and I have come back to NZ loving Italian cuisine more than ever!
I cannot express how life changing, gratifying and thoroughly enjoyable an exchange like this is! I ate some of the best food I‘ve ever eaten, visited absolutely stunning places, and spent time with some of the kindest people I’ve met! This exchange has further developed my love of travelling, whilst providing me with an appreciation of my own culture and family.
My time in Italy was short, but I made the most of every moment and I have thousands of incredible memories! I’ll try to keep the ‘cliches’ to a minimum, but I just have to say how truly thankful I am that I have had such an eye opening experience.
If you are still a little unsure about going on exchange, I would honestly say go for it! It’s an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity!! If you choose to do so, then my advice would be give everything a go, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and truly embrace the different lifestyle!!
Writing this now, there are so many things I haven’t even mentioned, but seeing as this was meant to be a ‘short’ article, I’ll just say that this exchange has given me such a valuable outlook on life. I had incredible experiences, made life-long friends, and have more than enough memories to last a lifetime.
Rebekah went to Italy for an exchange in December 2019.
"It's rather difficult putting an experience like this into words, but I think it's safe to say that my exchange in Italy is one which I shall remember and cherish for the rest of my life! "
My name is Rebekah and I'd love to share a little bit of my 8 week exchange to Italy!
GEORGIA'S EXCHANGE TO FRANCE
"The fact that my family went out of their way to make my year one that I would never forget made me feel so special and honesty so grateful that my host family would do something like this for me."
going over there about to start your journey. But what I experienced was definitely not scary but one of the most amazing experiences I have ever occurred in my entire life.
In 2016 on the 1st of January my journey began. I was at the airport about to board my flight to France where I was going to be spending one whole entire year with another family. I remember thinking “Wow one year is going to be such a long time, it's going to go so slow.” Oh how time flies though when you are having fun!
I was living in a small village called St. Roman De Malgarde. The first thing I noticed was how different the houses looked compared to the houses in New Zealand. They did actually look like houses you would typically see if you googled "French houses." My host family were amazing - everything I could have asked for and more! I experienced having two younger brothers (aged 8 and 14) and a sister who was the same age as me. From the moment I stepped foot in the door I felt like I belonged, especially when my first meal was McDonalds!
The whole exchange started to get real when it was my first day at my high school in a village called Vasion La Romane. I remember walking in and seeing everyone looking at me and trying so hard to speak English to me because everyone was so amazed that a girl from New Zealand was at their school. I instantly made life-time friends from the first hour I was at the school. Everyone made me feel welcome and I never felt alone at any stage of my year in France.
I experienced so many cultural things which I never had experienced before in my life. This included going every Sunday to my host family’s grandparents’ house for lunch. And not your typical sandwich, I’m talking about a big 3-4 course meal - every Sunday! At first it was weird to me how the whole family could go and have a massive meal every Sunday and the next week still have a lot of things to talk about! It made me realise that in France family means everything and family comes first.
I couldn’t ask for a better family to spend one year with. I got to go and see so many places which will forever stay in my heart. I experienced Spain, Italy and various other towns and cities in France. The fact that my family went out of their way to make my year one that I would never forget made me feel so special and honesty so grateful that my host family would do something like this for me.
One month of living with a different family soon became 11 months and my journey was slowly coming to an end. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life! Leaving my second family and not knowing when I will see them again was one of the hardest things I have had to do. From starting off being complete strangers to the day where I left feeling like the fourth child in the family really is an amazing thing.
I could write an entire book about how much this exchange has changed my life and how much of an impact it has made on my future, but I will keep it short and sweet and just say thank you so much to Your Education for giving me this opportunity. It has honestly changed my life and I have gained so many lifelong friends and a second family.
This journey will forever stay in my heart and I will continue sharing my story for many years to come.
“Exchange isn’t a year in your life, It’s a life in one year”
Georgia went to France for an exchange in January 2016.
"Spending one whole year in a different country sounds scary when you think about it and even more scary when you are on the plane
LUCIE'S EXCHANGE TO ITALY
"I am forever thankful to Your Education for giving me this wonderful opportunity."
For me the opportunity of experiencing another school, another country and another lifestyle was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I recently spent eight weeks over summer in Italy on a Your Education high school exchange.
I was living in a small town of 27,000 people called Mariano Comense. It was in the north of Italy, about an hour outside of Milan. My town was absolutely gorgeous. It was small and quiet and I lived with the most wonderful host family. My host family and I lived on the bottom floor of a 2-story house with the grandparents living upstairs. In my host family there was my host mother and father and my two host brothers who are aged 16 & 19. It was the full Italian family!
My first day at school was nerve racking, especially because I had no previous experience of the Italian language. A new school in a new country is definitely something scary. I was lucky though because my oldest host brother went to the same school so he was there to help me through my first day. Really I had no reason to be scared as my class was so warm and friendly. The girls and boys in my class were excited to meet me and had already set up a place me for to sit with them. Hardly anyone had heard of New Zealand so I had a great time teaching them about it. My weeks at school went by way too fast and before I knew it I had to say goodbye. The bond I had made with the girls and boys in my class was just fantastic. They taught me the Italian language and I helped them with their English.
One of the best things I experienced was the Italian Christmas. It was amazing. The whole family came out to my host uncle's house and we had an amazing feast of meats and different types of pastas. Christmas was a big family occasion and they just made me feel so welcome. I met the extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins and every single one of them was warm and full of excitement to meet me. I honestly believe I was the luckiest girl for being put with the most warm and welcoming family. They taught me everything about Italian culture and history. Once a week my host nonna and mum would teach me how to make a typical Italian dish. It was in moments like this I felt especially welcome in the family.
I managed to fit so much into that time and made thousands of memories I will forever have. Even though I only had a short time for this experience I gained more from this than I ever thought I could. I got to visit some amazing places, eat some fantastic food and live with the most fantastic and loving people.
It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have made so many lifelong friends who are forever in my heart and a brand new family who I can’t wait to get back and see sometime soon.
I am forever thankful to Your Education for giving me this wonderful opportunity.
Lucie went to Italy in 2016.
"I really felt like part of the family, like an Italian, and I would never have experienced anything quite like this, had I not gone on my exchange."
After completing year 11, at the beginning of December, I left for my exchange to Italy, where I would be living for the next two months! It really was an adventure, but what was really cool was that my twin sister, Rebekah, was also going on exchange, and her family was in fact, related to my family!
I remember sitting on the plane feeling a little nervous, especially considering I spoke no Italian (well a few phrases thanks to Duolingo and a crash course night school for learning Italian), however all my fears were washed away as soon as I arrived.
I was greeted by the most friendly, welcoming, what you’d call extremely bubbly Italian’s!
It seemed crazy to think I would be spending the next 8 weeks of my life with these people I had never met, but would soon consider family.
My host family (Father, Mother and 2 siblings – sister aged 20 and brother aged 18) lived in an ‘authentic’ looking town of about 16,000 people called Agrate Brianza.
We lived in the North (it even snowed once!), very close to Monza, where I went to school, and were only around a 10 minute train ride to Milan. It was a dream come true!
I was able to be a part of a ‘true Italian family’, whether it be when they had a welcome party for me with all the neighbours, lunch with Nonno (the Grandfather), or teaching me pasta recipes: they went out of their way to make my experience!
The great thing about my exchange was I felt so supported as I was surrounded by lots of other amazing people, and exchange students. I was able to meet other exchange students in the area one night which was great, and ended up with two other kiwi exchange students in Milan!
One thing I feared at first was the language barrier- my Italian was terrible to start with and my host sister spoke little English, as did my host mother. However, this was one of the best things that I could have asked for. It meant we could really bond, and by the end of it, I was able to have conversations, and understand much more than I ever would have thought possible!
School was a very different, but very special experience:
It was still dark for the first 2 hours of class, and we finished at 2, so went home for lunch. I took 12 subjects, many of which I could not understand (philosophy, religion, literature all in Italian to name a few). The school I was at (called a ‘Liceo Artistico school’)- which was a private religious school, that focused on Art, was so amazing- my teachers and classmates could not have been more welcoming!
On my first day at school all my classmates came and introduced themselves, shaking my hands, and were all so inclusive. They all helped me with my Italian, and told me all about their country, and I helped them with their English, and told them about New Zealand (I even gave a presentation in Italian, including marmite and afghans which I baked for them).
My classmates all wanted to ensure I had the best time possible in their country, so I often caught up with friends, whether for a pizza or gelato, a walk in the park, or even shopping in Milan 3 days before Christmas!
Going to school not only gave me an appreciation for school back home, but allowed me to make friends with the most incredible people, many of which I still message and call.
All my friends made my exchange so memorable, but the people I really have to thank are my host family. My host family loved teaching me and showing me about the history and culture of Italy, and always went out of their way to take me to their favourite places around the top half of Italy. The travelling was so incredible, but it was also the simple things, like eating dinner and talking around the table that I really loved!
Highlights for me were Christmas, where the extended family (along with my twin sister Rebekah- as our families are related!!!) all met, exchanged gifts, sang songs and mostly ate all the delicious food we prepared days in advance.
I was also lucky enough to go skiing in the mountains for one week (my host family had a mountain house) where we celebrated ‘Capodanno’ (New Year’s Eve) with all their Italian friends!
I really felt like part of the family, like an Italian, and I would never have experienced anything quite like this, had I not gone on my exchange.
Needless to say, the food certainly did not disappoint - different types of pasta every night, the most authentic pizza, along with other delicious Italian foods and treats, I was certainly well fed!!
There is so much more I could talk about but I have to end somewhere, so I have to finish by saying how magical this exchange was.
This really is a once in a lifetime experience, which is so rewarding, and is one that I will forever cherish!
Alexandra from Auckland went to Italy in 2019
My exchange to Italy is something that is extremely difficult to actually put into words. I had the most exciting, different, interesting, fun experiences during my 2, very busy months, and am so grateful I had the privilege to go on this exchange.
With only 50 days left in Auckland before my big adventure, it would be an understatement to say that nerves were building! I have decided to make this blog now so I can show the build ups before the 20 hour flight to a life changing experience. I will aim to update my blog as much as possible (minimum once a week), that way all of you kiwis can keep up with my trip!
For the most part of the 6 months I will staying in a city called Murcia. I can't wait to finally meet my host family, and get settled in a brand new sense.
So the journey has officially begun. The final goodbye at Auckland Airport left with me with very good spirits. Yes there were some tears, mainly from Mum when she gave me my final hug before sending me off on an adventure of a lifetime.
Safely arriving in Barcelona after a one very long journey. The 17-hour flight was definitely all apart of the experience, travelling from my hometown in Auckland all the way to Dubai was difficult. I managed to complete the world’s longest flight however if sitting in the same place wasn’t hard enough, I’m pretty sure the little baby in front of me had a mission to wake me up every time I drifted off to sleep, even the ear plugs couldn’t keep out the loud screaming. The 7-hour flight from Dubai to Barcelona felt like nothing compared to my last flight. It was great to finally make it to Spain, but I was definitely in need of a cold shower.
Once arriving in Spain, I knew this was going to be amazing. All the buildings are beautiful and there are flowers all around. Interestingly there are a lot more motorbikes on the road in Spain than there are in New Zealand.
After arriving at the hostel, we went up to our room and meet the German girls who were staying with us in our hostel. I made a few new friends; luckily all the girls spoke English! We then went on a bus tour past the Barcelona football stadium before arriving at the top of this very large mountain. On the mountain that overlooked all of Barcelona, there was a theme park and a beautiful large church plus an incredible view. I was extremely tired and slightly jet lagged so it was straight to bed for me when we got home.
My full day in Barcelona was incredible. Firstly we had a orientation meeting about rules and what to expect but after lunch it was time for exploring the city. We had another bus tour around the city, the buildings were something else, and the city was breathtakingly beautiful. From the apartment balconies, to the city parks and finally the city’s squares it was all amazing.
Tomorrow is a very big day, as I meet my host family for the first time! After a lot of emails it will be so exciting to be able to put faces to the names of my new family.
Today I got to meet my host family!
After taking a 6-hour train ride from Barcelona to Alicante, we arrived to find our host families waiting to take us home. The train ride was very pretty as we travelled the entire way along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. As we passed through the different villages it was very interesting to see how different parts of Spain lived. I can also say I have passed my first nude beach; luckily the train was moving quickly is all I can say.
Leading up to meeting the family I was really nervous, mainly because my Spanish is not that great I was very worried as to how we would communicate. However after the 40min car ride with the dad to Alicante I knew I was going to fit in just fine. Even though there were a few language barriers, we were both able to have a sing along to his Bruno Mars, I am very glad they listen to some music in English because it is one thing which I know I will understand the words.
I am super thankful for the two eldest boys who can speak some English, as the parents are very limited. I guess that just means I will have to learn very quickly. In my family I have 4 boys Bruno 13, Hugo 12, Gonzalo 10, and Guillermo 7, my parents are Nani and Tatiana. They are all very welcoming and are very patient too.
On Wednesday I have my first day of school, with my limited knowledge of Spanish and being the ‘exchange student’ who knows no one I am defiantly worried. Seeming all classes are in Spanish I will understand very little, however I am looking forward to English class. This weekend I have my first tournament for water polo, my host dad Nani managed to get me into a team, which is very good as I am straight into playing.
I really love it here. I fit in very well with my family and they are all so loving and kind.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to travel south to see the beautiful city of Malaga. With 5 hours of travel on two different buses, it was definitely a solid trip, but in saying that it was so worth it.
Given that my home is closer to the coastal part of Spain, I don’t see much of the rural areas. This trip gave me the chance to see more of the countryside; I got to see a very different part of Spain.
I travelled with two exchange friends from the Murcia area, which was helpful and good company. We arrived at our amazing hostel, which happened to be right in the middle of the city, dropped off our bags and then headed out for a walk around the city centre.
The city centre is made up of small streets filled with shops and restaurants - perfect for walking around. There are still a few cars that drive on the streets so you have to be careful. The small streets bring such an amazing culture to the city, it seems to encourage people to talk to strangers and make friends.
Once all the students from around Spain had arrived in the hostel we went out for a great Italian dinner. It was so good to catch up with the friends who I made in Barcelona again and to see how they are all going with their different experiences. After dinner Stella (my most amazing German friend) and I went exploring. We found a beautiful light show in the middle of the city. This was a big highlight; the entire street was lit creating a gorgeous archway of light.
Day 2: More exploring of course! We had a tour guide who showed us around for Friday and Saturday. Firstly we went to the home of Pablo Picasso’s Birth, followed by a walk through the ancient romans temple. The temple was incredible! The beautiful structure of the entire building had me wondering how? After lunch we were given the afternoon off for free time AKA shopping!
Day 3: We all walked to a beautiful Catholic church, which was filled with stunning decorations. Next up we went to Picasso’s Museum. I would never call myself a major art fan but I really enjoyed walking around and seeing all these iconic pieces. Inspiring.
The day was finished with a walk to the beach and along the port. At this point it really sunk in how far away I was from my home. There was a ferry to AFRICA! Only 6 hours and then I would arrive in AFRICA! I really am on the other side of the world.
Lunch was at a restaurant on the beach, the 23-degree weather with no clouds had me thinking it was still summer here.
Day 4: Time for a few sad good byes, totally exhausted from the long days and non-stop chatting at night. It was time to go home for some good nights sleep.
I totally have fallen in love with Malaga it was amazing!
Christmas in Spain was something that I have been looking forward to as part of this incredible exchange. The Spanish have very different traditions to those I am used to in New Zealand. Christmas is huge in this part of the world.
My school finished the week of Christmas, on Friday 23rd. This felt extremely weird for me - firstly it was cold and also I wasn’t at the beach. However my school was highly decorated in the theme of Christmas and excitement was building
On Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) we celebrated with the main Christmas meal – unlike in NZ where we eat lunch or dinner on Christmas Day. It was less of a sit down meal, as most of the night was spent in the kitchen eating tapas as they were prepared. By the time dinner was served around 11pm, it is safe too say that no one was very hungry. However, the food was amazing so we all just kept eating. There was a lot of prawns, some ham (‘Bellot’ is very different to our the NZ normal Christmas ham, this has cured for 3 years – amazing taste). The main course was steak - and there was absolute no room for dessert.
Christmas day was also very different. The presents were only from Santa (Papa Noel) - the brothers didn't buy each other presents, or presents for the parents, as this was not the done thing. The whole family then headed to a Spanish Restaurant for lunch and had a crab paella. There was lots of celebrations and family fun during this period.
And then came New Years. What a night.
My evening started with great family friends, with a lot of music, laughter and dancing. At the strike of mid-night a custom is to eat 12 grapes, one on each of the 12 strikes. This was both hilarious and challenging, I definitely thought it was going to be a lot harder then what it was, however managed to eat all 12. After watching the fireworks, it was time to welcome in the New Year the best way Spanish people know how, FIESTA!
I went to a big party with my friends. With over 1000 people, it is safe to say ‘big’ is an understatement. Fiesta started just after 1am, we danced the rest of the night away. By 6.30am I was done and had to leave the party, which was showing no signs of slowing down. I arrived home just before 7am exhausted. This is one party that I will never forget.
The Spainish celebrate Christmas differently, as they believe that the Three Kings arrived with gifts on the 6th of January. This means that most children receive their main Christmas gift on the 6th of January. On this day it is also a tradition to eat a certain type of cake, which has a mini king toy inside. Whoever’s piece of cake has the toy is crowned King/Queen of the day. I was luckily to have the winning piece and took the crown.
This has been one of the most incredible experiences. Christmas and New Year was a very different experience, especially being away from my family and friends. But my host family, and the incredible friends around me made this a very special part of my exchange.
Christmas and New Year are a special time of the year. I feel privileged to have been able to enjoy this time in Spain and know that I will take some new things back with me to NZ.
Now I’m back at school completing my final 20 days before departing home to New Zealand. Time is just going so fast, but I can’t wait too see my friends and family soon.
It only seemed right to go and visit the capital of Spain before I left. My second to last weekend in Spain, I packed my bags and headed off for a weekend away with some of the Exchange Students.
Madrid was something special. The entire city is so beautiful, and the architecture was incredible. We stayed in a hostel in Puerto del Sol, which is the middle of the city. The whole weekend was spent walking around and visiting famous sites.
The first day started with a tour around the city, and getting an orientation of Madrid. The Palacio Real de Madrid amazed me, it was beautiful crafted and I was stunned at how large it was. We were given a guided tour through the Palace, where we learnt about the importance of the different rooms. I would sure love to live here if I was a Queen.
Although hard to choose, my favourite place was the football stadium that I visited on Friday. Home to Real Madrid Football Club and Cristiano Ronaldo. We went on a tour of the stadium, and saw the field from all different areas. We were even able to go behind the gates onto the field and sit on the bench, before walking through the visitors changing rooms. It was very cool to see everything up close. But the best was saved till last, seeing Real Madrid’s trophy hall.
Saturday, was spent exploring the one of the most significant art galleries in Europe, Museo Nacional del Prado. Then across the road and we wandered through the beautiful Buen Retiro Park, followed by a small market. We finished the day by hiring boats and paddling around a pond in the middle of the park, while watching the sunset.
Sunday we spent the final morning with a little free time, giving us the opportunity to deepen the friendships that had formed since my first days in Barcelona. We wandered around the streets soaking in the atmosphere before heading back to the train station and the long train ride home.
Madrid was absolutely gorgeous; it was definitely a place I would love to come back to.
I would not have been able to do this incredible adventure without all of the help from Your Education. They have made this exchange very easy, not to mention giving me a lot of support leading up to this trip and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me. If you would like to travel on an exchange be sure to look into this company."
- Chelsea from Auckland went to Spain.
CHELSEA'S EXCHANGE TO SPAIN
"I would not have been able to do this incredible adventure without all of the help from Your Education. They have made this exchange very easy, not to mention giving me a lot of support leading up to this trip and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me. If you would like to travel on an exchange be sure to look into this company."
During Chelsea's high school exchange she wrote a blog about her experiences and we are sharing some of her posts. Happy reading!
MEGAN'S EXCHANGE TO THE U.K.
"If someone has the opportunity to experience something like this, then I will always recommend that they go for it."
It truely doesn’t feel like I was on an exchange, as soon as arrived I was welcomed straight into my host family and was treated like one of her own. I had a host mum and an 8 year old host brother who didn’t speak a lot of English which made it a little difficult, but the effort I put into before I left and learning more being in the environment I could hold a conversation with him after school. Looking back I have no regrets for going on an exchange and would encourage anyone to take part. They create lifetime memories and friends and family on the other side of the world. I still check through my photos I took weekly and remember all the memories I made with such an amazing group of people.
The most vivid memory that I can remember would be saying goodbye, I was catching the train from my host town Arboga to Stockholm to stay with another exchange student Sarah from Christchurch before flying out the next day. When the train arrived we said our goodbyes, hugged and cried, said Tack så mycket countless times. Stepping on to the train I realised this was my last time I was going to see two of the most amazing people who took the time out of their lives to look after me. Instantly I was crying while the train was moving I could see my host brother William running along the train waving. Since I arrived back I keep in weekly contact with them and have facetimed each other when free.
Your Education I can not thank you enough for everything you did in prepping me for my exchange. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had and something I will never forget!!!
Tack så mycket
Hej då Isabella"
- Isabella from Timaru went to Sweden.
ISABELLA'S EXCHANGE TO SWEDEN
"Your Education I can not thank you enough for everything you did in prepping me for my exchange. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had and something I will never forget!!!"
"I have procrastinated writing this letter a lot as it has already been 4 months since I have been home from my 2-month exchange to Sweden, but I wasn’t really sure how I could really sum up the most amazing experience I had while living in Sweden!
"In December, 2017, I hopped on a plane and traveled to the other side of the world for the adventure of a lifetime. I was not disappointed. I experienced all of the crazy and confusing things you’ll always find in different countries. There were amazing friends, a kind host family, incredible travel, a welcoming college and memories that I will never forget.
My host family was a single mum and her five-year-old daughter. They were welcoming, and helpful with anything that I didn’t understand. My host mum, Hayley, helped me organise my travel by showing me the best places to go and the cheapest ways to get there. She was an amazing host mum who was always looking out for me. My host sister was very cute. Waking up on Christmas Day with an excited five-year-old gives you a whole new perspective on life and how amazing small things really are.
One of the things I loved most about my exchange was Exeter College. I had three classes at college: history, classical civilization, and film and video. I also took an additional class of Latin. I loved these classes. They were so different from New Zealand schools which made things very interesting, and broadened my knowledge of education. Exeter college was a really good place to learn about other cultures, which was helpful in becoming a traveler. I knew that I always had the school’s support, which made things so much easier as I came to grips with this whole other life I now had. I made some amazing friends. We went out for dinner, hot chocolate, pizza and shopping. It was so much fun!
There is always that small fear that you won’t be able to make any friends, but I promise it’s not as difficult as you would imagine. It was incredibly hard leaving college on my last day, having the friends I’d made peel off the group to go to their classes for the last time. But I wouldn’t change anything, it was a fantastic two months.
Another thing I loved about my exchange was travelling. One of the most important things for me was to keep busy and do as much as I could. This helped keep any home sickness away, and it was also absolutely amazing! So, I traveled. Every and any free day that I had I was off somewhere new. I think that by the end of my trip I had visited at least 23 different towns in England and two towns in Wales. Although most of the travel I did was alone, I met the most amazing people along the way. I learnt so much, more than I ever dreamed I would get the chance to. I really loved getting out and seeing everything that I could: King Henry VIII Castles, the London Museum, Pagan festivals, underground passages, handling birds of prey, zoos, beaches, churches, boat rides, tour buses and so many other things. I had the time of my life!
This was the experience of a lifetime, one that I can’t quite put into words. I have grown and accomplished so much, and I am very proud of all I have achieved. I will forever remember my amazing friends, and all of the people I met along the way. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wasn’t for them.
If someone has the opportunity to experience something like this, then I will always recommend that they go for it. Make the decision to always give your best, take advantage of every opportunity that is thrown your way, and spend every moment you have doing something that you have dreamed about or doing something you love. The world is massive, and there is so much to see, but none of it is impossible. If you believe you can do it, then you can do anything.
- Megan, from Timaru went to United Kingdom for a short term exchange in 2017.
SOPHIA'S EXCHANGE TO CALIFORNIA
"This exchange has forever changed me and has opened my eyes to so many things. This exchange is an opportunity you don't want to miss."
This exchange really helped me grow as an individual and taught me how to become independent. I made heaps of friends while I was there and I had amazing host families to show me around the city and had the chance to spend quality time with as well.
With my exchange, I had the opportunity to experience staying with two different American families. I spent the first half of my exchange with a host family that lived more out in the county, specifically Chula Vista. It took me nearly an hour everyday to drive to school but it was nice, as I got the chance to get to know my two host sisters and two other Chinese students that were on exchange and were staying with us.
The last half of my exchange I spent with a host family that lived more in downtown San Diego and lived pretty close to the high school I was attending. I spent an amazing time with my second host family as they took me out to different restaurants, parks and I became really close with my younger host sister, Kenzi.
It was nice because I created a really strong bond with my two hosts families. I still keep in contact with them and my second host family recently asked me if I wanted to fly out to Thailand with them for a holiday, which I had to sadly decline as I'll still be in school.
My high school, The Rock, was such an awesome school and I made so many friends there. The teachers and students were so welcoming and encouraging. I literally just wanted to join every sports team and club to get involve because, the positive attitude I was surrounded with just made the area so fun and exciting to be around.
A highlight of mine would have to be going to a beach get-together with some friends. One of the students was planning on moving away to Georgia, so she threw a small party out on the beach and I had such a blast. We spent our time playing games, swimming and enjoying each other's company.
I made so many memories there that I know I can keep and cherish forever and the good weather I received over there was a bonus!
American food, so good! Honestly the amount of California burritos I had over there was out of control! Because San Diego is literally right beside Mexico, they had a lot of Mexican restaurants around so I had the chance to try many foreign snacks and meals. Not to forget, Starbucks. My school had two Starbucks shops literally 10-metres away from each other. Starbucks is so big and popular in the States but I have to admit they do make good drinks and food.
Another highlight of mine would have to be the day I went to the zoo and shopping plaza with one of my close friends I made over there. We had such a fun time looking at all the animals and shopping for shoes and clothes afterwards. I bought so much stuff, I had to check in another bag!
My expectations before I had left were pretty high because of all the stories I've heard of America and I'll tell you this, you will not be disappointed. This exchange has forever changed me and has opened my eyes to so many things. This exchange is an opportunity you don't want to miss. It's a chance for you to explore and see what is out there in the world. I've had my American adventure, now it's time for you to have your own! :)
- Sophia, from Christchurch went to California for a short term exchange.
"My name is Bronte Adams and I am a 17 year old student at Verdon College in Invercargill.
I went on a Your Education high school exchange to San Diego, California, USA for seven weeks. I lived with a host family, Jenn the mum, and a 15 month old baby Sophia. They lived in Chula Vista, San Diego County, which was about 40 minutes away from my school.
I chose to go on an exchange to see a different part of the world, to meet new people and experience things that people in another country do on a daily basis. The reason I went to the USA was because of the typical American movies, the clean rich houses, cheerleaders, and football players. I wanted to see if it was actually like the movies.
My exchange was one of the best experiences in my life and has given me such a wider perspective on life. I went to a private christian school at Point Loma, San Diego and made plenty of friends who I ‘kicked it’ with in the weekends and at lunchtimes.
At my school there was a cafeteria which everyone sat with in their groups, paper bags with their lunch in it, and even cheerleaders with their uniform on and footy players in their football jackets, just like I’d expected to see. We would get Starbucks on Tuesday and Thursday and go and sit at the park and eat our lunch.
In the weekends we would go to the mall, or go to the beach. One of my highlights of the exchange was Disneyland, the best rides were hyberspace mountain, splash mountain, and the fastest indian. The bonus was that my host mum’s cousin works there and so we got in for free!
I went skiing at Big Bear Mountain one weekend which was amazing, as I ski back home when in Queenstown. The malls were just as I expected them to be - they were twelve times bigger than any mall that I’d been to in New Zealand. I could spend six hours there non-stop shopping and not get through the whole mall, although Forever 21 took up most of my time!
The drive-in movie theatre is one of the most American things I have ever seen, such a cool experience, and it’s so cheap!
There are three foods I miss everyday from my experience. In-n-out burger is the best food I have ever tasted, I crave it everyday. Bundt cakes, which are the most moist cakes I have ever tasted, shaped in a circle with a hole in the middle of it, which has flavoured icing to match the cake on top in stripes - my two favourite flavours are lemon, and raspberry & white chocolate. What they call ‘biscuits’ in america are plain scone like pastry/doughs that my host mum made for me, and tasted divine when smothered in butter.
My host family were the most homely people and Jenn was one of the coolest Mums I have ever met. Sophia was the best entertainment. I taught her how to say please, and showed her new foods such as raspberries and chicken which she loved, and when I had some, she ate more than half of mine. My host family was so fun and welcoming, they showed me round their city from the food to the views to the shops such as Target and Costco.
I got the real American experience that I was after and I would definitely go on an exchange again."
- Bronte went to California for a short-term exchange.
"Hi my name is Sophia and during my summer and Christmas holiday I spent seven weeks in San Diego, California on a Your Education high school exchange.
BRONTE'S EXCHANGE TO CALIFORNIA
"My exchange was one of the best experiences in my life and has given me such a wider perspective on life."
COURTNEY'S EXCHANGE TO DENMARK
"I greatly enjoyed my exchange to Denmark, I am so glad that I pushed aside my fears and did it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more."
"I think going to Denmark was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but it was definitely worth it. It was outside my comfort zone, but I had always wanted to go on an exchange and after my friend had gone on one and enjoyed it, it seemed less scary so off I went.
I’m so glad I did, I had such a great time and I will never forget my experiences.
I don’t think that I could have had a better host family, everyone was very nice and we had a lot of similar interests. I had a host Mum, Dad, older brother and younger sister. I quickly became good friends with my host sister and we spent a lot of time drawing together and she took me to her after school activities such as swimming and creative design.
I went to school while I was there. I found it very different as they wear mufti and the classes were smaller so everyone is good friends. I made some great friends and one of my favourite things that I did with them was having a New Zealand dinner where we made fish and chips and pavlova together. We had a lot of fun making everything and they are now pavlova fans.
I got to bike to school while I was there so I had to get used to biking on the other side of the road. I found it surprising how much they biked in Denmark, but then we live at a higher altitude than their highest “mountain”.
I got to spend Christmas in Denmark which was fun. I enjoyed opening my presents on Christmas Eve as that’s not something I’m used to. It also meant that I was opening my presents at the same time as my family at home. We danced and sung around the Christmas tree which I enjoyed and we had candles on the Christmas tree that we had cut down ourselves which was all very new to me.
I very much liked the Risalamande we had after Christmas dinner and being tricked into eating more, even though I was full, for a chance to find the whole almond and win a prize. Risalamande is a bit like rice pudding with chopped almonds and cherry sauce.
I find it very hard to pick a favourite thing from my trip, but I think it would have to be building a giant Lego tower in a museum in Aalborg with my host family. I am a big Lego fan and so is my host family. We spent an entire day playing with it and building a massive tower out of it together that was over twice my height. Needless to say I didn’t see much of the rest of the museum.
I greatly enjoyed my exchange to Denmark, I am so glad that I pushed aside my fears and did it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. If I can do it so can you."
-Cortney, from Christchurch, went to Denmark for a short-term exchange.
AMY'S EXCHANGE TO JAPAN
"Now, at the end of my seven weeks in Japan, the only thing I regret is that I couldn’t have spent longer there. I can say in all honesty that I didn’t want it to end."
"Going on an exchange is a big decision to make. It costs a lot of money and takes time to plan. Going on an exchange means going to a different country and living with complete strangers, as well as being thrust into a new culture with new people. But as scary as that sounds, it’s not all bad.
Before my exchange, I likely shared similar thoughts with all of you considering going on an exchange. I was nervous, scared, but I was also excited to have the chance to experience something entirely new. Now, at the end of my seven weeks in Japan, the only thing I regret is that I couldn’t have spent longer there. I can say in all honesty that I didn’t want it to end. I now have a home away from home, friends in another country and another loving family who accepted me as their own daughter. Saying goodbye and leaving Japan was probably the hardest part of my exchange. My host family truly treated me as a member of their own family and made me feel welcome from the first day. My friends and classmates in Japan were all very kind and welcoming, even though they didn’t know me.
My exchange started with a long 11-hour flight and a heck of a lot of travel drama. Luckily, Your Education was very helpful and got me through the whole thing, although I did arrive a day later in Fukuoka than I was supposed to. After arriving, I immediately travelled to my new school to meet the other exchange students and go to class. This was a nerve-wracking moment for me. I had never met the other two girls from New Zealand, and I wasn’t confident in my Japanese ability to be able to communicate with my class. As it turns out, all my worrying was for nothing. I got along super well with the other girls (Misaki, Vivian, you guys are great <3) and my classmates were all super nice, even if they were a little shy to begin with.
Then came the part I was most worried about. Meeting my host family. I was worried that maybe they wouldn’t like me, or that we wouldn’t get along, but my host family proved me wrong by being incredibly welcoming and inviting from the first day. They made me feel at home and treated me like a family member during my seven-week stay. I think an important part of the relationship that formed between my host family and I was willingness to learn and communicate. Although there was a language barrier, we all did our best to chat and talk about Japan and New Zealand, or what interested us. I can say that I will really miss my host family and although we only spent a short amount of time together, we really bonded well, and I now have another home in Japan.
My host family had a rather unusual situation. Only my host mother and sister lived in Fukuoka, while my host brother and father were in Tokyo, studying and working. This meant that I didn’t necessarily get to see my host father and brother very often, but regardless, we got along super well. During their break, they both came to Fukuoka and took me to different places to go sightseeing, shopping and to eat authentic Japanese food. I found that my interests matched quite well with my host family and we enjoyed doing a lot of things together. Time spent with my host family included quite a few road trips. A rather memorable one for me was when we went to Kumamoto, the home of Kumamon and visited Asa Volcano. I remember it being freezing cold, around -3 degrees Celsius and walking over a frozen lake with my host siblings. It was picturesque, with the volcano in the distance and smoke billowing out across a blue sky.
Japanese school was also very different. At the school I went to, there were seven periods in a day, but since I was in class 1-5, my class also had extra lessons in the morning and a seventh period on Tuesdays and Fridays. This was new to me. There was also a 10-minute break between classes, which I’m pretty sure everyone treated as nap time. (Including me, since I was waking up at 6am, I had to sleep at some point) Club activities are also a daily thing. My host sister, who was in the soccer club, would have practice until around 7:30pm every day which resulted in her arriving home very late and often dinner would be at around 8pm. I went to badminton club every now and then, so I wasn’t getting home early either. I would take the bus and then train home on my own.
Japanese transport is very convenient and on time, although more expensive than in New Zealand. This was interesting for me as I usually walk to school in New Zealand, but after going to Japan I had to take a bus and train for a 40-minute long commute to school. At school in Japan, there was also a cafeteria and a school shop where you could buy hot food which was great since it was winter. It even snowed one day and while pretty, it was freezing. The students in Japan also clean the school themselves. This was a new thing for me since in New Zealand I had gotten so used to cleaners cleaning the school after the students had all left, however I found that cleaning time was also a time where I got to make friends and talk with my classmates.
What I got from this experience was that you should always give everything a go. I got to try so many new things in Japan, some of which I liked, some of which I didn’t, but all in all I’m glad I decided to try. Did I like sea cucumber? No. Was I glad I tried it? Yes. Be open to new things, new foods, new experiences. You never know if you’ll like it until you try. Another thing is that while communication in a language you are not fluent in can be hard, it is worth giving it your best shot and just talking as much as possible. By speaking in that language, in my case Japanese, it gives you a chance to work out what makes sense and what doesn’t, but most of all it will bring you closer to your host family as you talk about yourself.
So, the final question is, was it all worth it?
I say yes. An exchange is a chance that not everyone gets. It is an opportunity to see what life is like on another side of the globe, a chance to make lifelong connections with people who you otherwise would’ve never met. It is an opportunity to learn about another culture first-hand, an opportunity to live completely differently to what you’re used to. This exchange experience to Japan opened new doors for me to walk through and showed me the lives of different people. It was a surreal experience and I didn’t want it to end. I think that we are truly fortunate that we are able to have this opportunity and I urge anyone who is sitting on the fence to throw hesitation to the wind and experience it for themselves."
-Amy went to Japan for a short-term exchange.
GEORGE'S EXCHANGE TO THE NETHERLANDS
"My school was fantastic, my class was so welcoming and I have made some great friends."
"I'm back home from the Netherlands I had a great time over there, but it's nice to see my family again. There were so many new and interesting things to see in the Netherlands, I really hope I get to go back in the future to check out the rest of the country because two months is really not long enough to see a whole country. I learned a lot about the Dutch culture as well as quite a bit about the NZ culture that I had never realised before. My host family was really helpful and showed me and told me about how they live. I also had an amazing neighbour who took me to the local wind mills and showed me how they worked. My school was fantastic, my class was so welcoming and I have made some great friends. There was a great community of exchange students there too, we could all talk to each other and find out what everyone else was doing and plan trips together. I'm going to miss them all, but I'm determined to try meet up with them again in the future.
While I was away I went and saw so many things. I saw Amsterdam which is huge, I don't think I have ever been to such a big city full of massive buildings and thousands of bikes. I also went to Germany where my host family and I went to see the Cologne markets, they were amazing. There were so many different stalls selling so many different things, I’d love to go back to them one day and look around them some more. I went to the Arnhem museum which was a trip arranged by Travel Active, it was probably one of my favourite days in the Netherlands, it was also the first time I met the other exchange students. I went inside a windmill and saw how it worked, it was rather complex and it made me think we should have more wind mills in NZ. I think I did something new each day I was there, it was so different from where I live which was great. I’ve brought home lots things from the Netherlands to show the people here and have some new recipes to try out with my family and friends.
At the moment, I'm adjusting back into NZ life, preparing for school and getting over jet lag (I'm rather tired) and I was thinking about how much fun I had on my trip and I just thought that I should let you know that I really enjoyed my exchange and that I would like to thank you so much for the help and advise you gave me for the trip. I really, really enjoyed it!!! It made me want to travel more and see the world because it’s such a big place and each part is different. The past 2 months have been some of the best in my life and I appreciate you helping me with them.
Once again thank you so much,
from George "
-George went to The Netherlands in 2017.
AANA'S EXCHANGE TO TEXAS
"My school was fantastic, my class was so welcoming and I have made some great friends."
"My exchange experience started when I stumbled upon Your Education by pure chance at an expo, where I met an informative returnee who helped spark my interest in studying abroad. It has now turned out to be the most life changing experience.
After attending Information Meetings and completing the application paperwork involved I was ready to embark on my trip to Orange, Texas, where I would meet my host family and settle into a new life there.
Although my host family and I both spoke English, at times it was as though we were speaking two different languages. This caused some hilarious mishaps, such as me asking if they wanted me to bring the “chilly bin in from the boot” to which they politely replied by asking if I could bring the “cooler in from the trunk.”
Everything about this different culture excited me, the food was incredible, everyone was so outgoing, and there was so much for me to learn.
My highlight of the whole experience was definitely the big 10 day road trip that my host family and I took during Thanksgiving break, where we travelled through a total of seven different states and I was privileged to see America’s beautiful landscapes such as the Colorado mountains and the Grand Canyon, which were all truly breathtaking.
For me, attending school in America was something I genuinely looked forward to every day. Everyone (including teachers) were so kind, warm, and welcoming. It was all so strange and exciting to me how people would naturally gravitate to me because of my accent and general foreignness, which made me a lot more confident and comfortable around other people.
Further into the exchange when you really start fitting into the school like any other student is when you will meet your true friends, all of which for me I am still in contact with today.
I will forever be thankful to Your Education for opening up their arms and showing me a part of the world that, at my age, I would have otherwise deemed impossible to discover.
It is not an easy decision to make to live with strangers in a foreign place and at times it will definitely feel surreal and overwhelming, but all in all I wouldn’t trade any moment for the world as everything was a contributing factor to my new perspective on life and my American bound lifestyle.
Even today I am still in contact with my new family in the US and all my incredible friends that I had made and was able to connect with in my time in Orange. I urge anyone who is considering going on an exchange to go for it, in the end you will have another place to call home."