Updated: Dec 23, 2021
In a time when cross-cultural experiences are more important than ever, student exchange programs are incredibly rewarding, yet sometimes challenging, endeavor.
Each year, students from across the globe arrive in Norway and Norwegians leave the country to pursue an array of experiences and cultural opportunities. Some of those come to Brazil.
Living in a foreign country with a strange family or in house with other local people is almost always extremely beneficial to the students, helping them acclimate to their new environment with a built-in support system and providing an immersive experience of life and culture.
But an exchange program does not just benefit the student. Families and institutions gain just as much, if not more than the one that comes from abroad, through the experience, and dealing with the challenges and joys of hosting translates to personal growth and wisdom gained for everyone around those students.
There are many good reasons why hosting a student is a great choice for families and organizations.
Expanding horizons through hosting
Students that apply to an exchange program usually want to learn as much as they can about local culture during their stay, and they are also happy to discuss aspects of their own countries and cultures with their host family or institution.
Just as or even more valuable than these conversations about culture or tradition is the experience of living day in and day out with a person from another culture. Most of us do not realize just how many of our behaviors are culturally conditioned because of our “normal”. But when there is another person in the house living their own kind of “normal”, the differences become obvious very quickly. While dealing with the differences can be challenging to work through, it is also eye opening and a great opportunity for teaching moments for everyone. Getting outside the boundaries people usually create for themselves is a unique and valuable experience.
Exchange programs increase global awareness
“Sharing cultures allows people to become open and tolerant to new things. ”
Sharing cultures allows people to become open and tolerant to new things. And one of the greatest benefits of students exchange programs is to provide opportunities to know other cultures which opens their eyes to different viewpoints and helps them to be more empathetic toward people from different backgrounds and traditions.
This higher degree of awareness, acceptance for cultural diversity and an increase in their cultural capital happens because they step out of their comfort zone. This personal growth is not unilateral, though. Both sides of the equation, host family and sending organization, end up experiencing that.
Students develop self-confidence
Needless to say, when students live away from their home in another country, they will soon build up confidence and develop cultural sensitivity.
These are life skills that will help they fit into the global work environment with ease and also make they feel confident when interacting with people from a different culture or country. And self-confidence will definitely affect the sending organization and family when they return to their home country at a later stage.
“Self-confidence will definitely affect the sending organization and family when they return to their home country at a later stage. ”
Yes, there may be challenges, but for sure cross-cultural experiences are incredibly rewarding and impacts both international and domestic students as well as host institutions.
Jonatan Neumann Contact person in Movimento Encontrão