When deciding to participate in a cultural exchange program, many people find themselves struggling to decide the appropriate length of stay as an Amity Intern. While both a semester and a full school year exchange have their immense benefits, here are the top reasons why a full school year is the best option.
- You’ll gain fluency and self-confidence in your language skills. The longer you are immersed in U.S. culture, the more you will practice your English language skills, which will dramatically improve your ability to speak and understand the language. Developing fluency in English will open the door for many professional opportunities.
- You’ll have more time to adjust and find what works for YOU. Adapting to a new culture takes time. It can take a while to really settle into a new place and develop a good routine. By committing to a longer exchange, you won’t find yourself packing up to fly home as soon as you begin to feel comfortable.
- You’ll truly immerse in local life, understanding the ins and outs of the culture. The longer you stay, the more of a “local” you will become. You’ll be able to pick your favorite coffee shop and restaurant, learn the ins and out of the public transit system, and find your favorite little nooks in your neighborhood.
- You’ll experience a full calendar of culture. Throughout the duration of a school year and the changes of the seasons, there are different holidays, celebrations, and traditions. Not only do you get to learn about these special moments, but you are able to personally experience each of them within your host community.
- You’ll share more of your native culture and traditions. Just as you will be learning about U.S. culture, you will also be teaching U.S. citizens all about yours. An extended stay allows much more opportunity to teach about your culture, dispel any stereotypes, help others to learn your native language, and really embrace your role as a cultural ambassador in your host community.
- You’ll develop independence while navigating a completely different way of life. Living abroad involves a lot of trial and error, and a lot of going outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you feel uncomfortable asking for directions in English, or perhaps the way the local metro system work really confuses you at first. Over time, you will develop these skills, and in the process, you will gain confidence while living in this new world.
- You’ll develop relationships that extend far beyond your time in the United States. It can take time to form meaningful connections. How unfortunate it is to have to leave just as you are truly connecting with people. By staying in the United States for a full year, your hosts and other friends from the local community will likely transition into a second family.
- You’ll have more time to develop your educational skills in a global classroom. It will take some time to adapt to a foreign classroom. Throughout the course of a year, you will really get to understand your host school, its mission and philosophies, and U.S. teaching methodologies. Also, direct classroom experience is where teachers in training gain the most applicable knowledge to help them adapt to their role as an educator. The more time, the better.
- You’ll have the opportunity get involved in the local community. A year in the USA will allow you to start and see through opportunities such as volunteering to host a language club, coach a team, or serve food at a local soup kitchen.
- You’ll have more time to explore. The more time for weekend and holiday adventures, the better! Maybe you have a list of multiple places you’d like to see. With more time in the USA, you can enjoy more getaways and road trips, and have ample opportunity to explore all the neighborhoods in your local community.
Not convinced yet? A few of our former participants share why they are happy that they committed to a full school year.
-Former Intern Josselin Romero
Professionally speaking, staying in the USA the whole school year provides the opportunity to fully learn and assimilate to the American curriculum, which could have similarities but also differences from the one in your home country. Being fully immersed at the school for a year also changes you a lot as a teacher, since your sharing, learning, and practicing skills daily. Personally speaking, I found very useful to have a long stay, because you meet so many more people, visit so many more places, and try lots of new activities. I can certainly assure you will grow exponentially if you are open to living the experience to the fullest.
– Former Intern Denis Gonzalez
A year long stay made me appreciate how everything changed from one season to the next. Since we don’t have these many seasons in our country, I could see how people and society moves on from one transition to another. Moreover, personally, I got used to different accents since I had the chance to travel and visit more places in the USA. In addition, the relationships between families improve and strengthen a lot, and at the end, you don’t want to leave!