Senior, Maxime Laurian is from Laval, France and found his way to America after visiting with a friend.
“My friend in France went to Canada for three months last summer. She told me it was very interesting and cool. It made me interested in it. [I wanted] to find information and experience other countries,” Laurian said.
Sophomore Anna Fischer’s dream has always been to live in the United States. Right now, she lives with her godmother. Her departure back to German is set for November.
“It’s been a dream of mine to live here. I wanted to get to know [the] culture and [the] people. I’m very interested in american lifestyle, ” Fischer said. “I wanted to see another point of the world, and to improve [on american] English. I want to live here in the future too.”
Coming from such distant places, where the lifestyle is so different, it is no surprise that living in America was a big adjustment.
“It wasn’t really a surprise because I knew that it was a different country. I think here, everything is bigger. The mentality is different. People here are very open-minded and welcoming. People talk with you. In France, it’s only with your friends,” Laurian said.
Because Fischer comes from Germany, there are various aspects of the culture here that are unique from those in Germany. The schooling system is one of these. Fischer believes that the ability to choose classes is more beneficial to get a grip on future careers.
“I like school here much better. It’s not as restrictive. Here, we get to choose what classes we want to take for our future. We get classes that support our dreams. . In Germany, it’s kind of sad because we have to go to all these normal classes. You get so many more choices here,” Fischer said. “We can’t choose our favorite classes. I’m taking principle of law, environmental science and fashion design. There’s a class for everyone. I want to be a lawyer in the future, so I went into law classes.”
The foreign exchange program has been around for seventy years, allowing students of all countries to maybe improve on a language and better understand a foreign culture. There are also many things that are different from which the students had to adjust. Anna Fischer came from a school of all girls and only seven hundred students.
“The school is huge. It’s really big. It’s really nice here too. They are really respectful to me, like they’ll repeat stuff for me, help me,” Fischer said. “I was really surprised on how friendly everyone is. Everything is bigger. I’m from a school of seven hundred students and it’s all girls. It was a big change to move to a school of three thousand students with boys. Everything was different. We can’t choose classes in Germany, only a language and a science in seventh grade.That’s it. We can’t choose classes like here. We only had seven hundred students in total. There[in Germany], we stay with our classmates all the time, like we don’t change people in our classes.”
Laurian now is involved in tennis on campus and really has an interest in other sports at school as well.
“The sport organization is cool. We don’t have sports in school in France. When you want to do sports they are outside of school. After school ends. I play tennis here. I play rugby after school. It’s like American football where we have a ball and run it to a certain area. I would play it from my family and friends. You run and try to get it in a zone. It’s more running than American football,” Laurian said.
The process for the program can either be long or short, depending on how fast the student is selected by a family.
“I had to fill out a lot of papers. I had to create an autobiography. We had to send pictures. Each student that wants to do it has to go through the process. The process for me was very short, but I was lucky. The families will choose the student they want to live with them. I was chosen in February. I arrived before school began,” Laurian said.
However, some exchanges are private and the students can stay with their family members or extremely close friends.
“I’m staying with my godmother, so it’s private. My godmother’s family really helped me organize the whole thing,” Fischer said.
The students must be able to speak a specific language for a couple of years before they qualify for specific countries.
“I had English in elementary school and there is a different form of school in Germany. We go to a high school in fifth grade and I started English in sixth grade. I’m in tenth grade. I’ve been speaking English for four years. I speak French too, but I visit France all the time. I’ve been speaking French for six years,” Fischer said.
“I started [speaking English]six years ago. Four years ago I began German. In France you have to speak two foreign languages. English was mandatory and then I got to choose between Spanish and German so I chose German,” Laurian said.
It is said to be an amazing experience for everyone. It improves awareness of the world and everyone who had went through the process had recommended it to other people.
“[For the program]You can’t be shy. You need to be confident and that’s sometimes hard especially if the language you need to speak isn’t your first. I really enjoy it. I’m having lot of fun. I do have a lot of homework though and will google words if I don’t understand them. If you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone and meet different people then you should try it. It’s like a whole new adventure. I would do it again. I want to do it next year too. I’m only here for three months because I would miss a lot of work in Germany. I would go anytime I could,” Fischer said.
“I would. Definitely yes. I think it’s the experience. I think it would be an interesting experience. I appreciate it. Everyone should do it. And to discover literature and culture,” Laurian said.
Many of the programs last different amounts of times between three months and four years.
“I go back in June[to]Laval, France,” Laurian said.
“My flight back is the eighteenth of November. It’s really close. I’m so sad about it. But I would do it again every chance I got,” Fischer said.
For more information here are a few links of commonly asked questions and the registration information;