This article is the first one of the Australia section. I’ll examine different aspects of the same experience in each article. Here I’m going to cover the general information about exchange programs.
There are many organizations you can join. First of all I’d like to specify that at the time (it was 2014) I was still in High School and the options I could choose from were:
- three months abroad;
- one semester (six months circa);
- an entire scholastic year (nine months circa).
I chose to go to Australia for three months mainly for the following reasons:
- I had never been in a foreign country without my family and friends for a long period of time;
- I stayed there from mid-June to the beginning of September, hence it was summer in Italy and winter Down Under. This means that I was on holidays according to the Italian education system so I didn’t miss any lessons in my actual school;
- but why Australia? I had wanted to visit Australia for the longest time. I used to watch Aussies TV series growing up, such as Wicked Science, The Saddle Club and Blue Water High. It is such a beautiful country with a unique environment and wildlife, plus they speak English. Being able to speak English is essential to travel, get better job opportunities and overall it allows us to communicate with the entire world!
Looking back I would probably stay there for a whole year, even though it would have implied bigger responsibilities: keeping up with both the study in your new school and in your old one (kilometers away), also it means longer time away from people you know and things/places/habits you are used to.
The organization that helped me in this journey is BECASSE. I went to an informative meeting where a bunch of organizations explained their offers and plans, and BECASSE seemed perfect for me.
The application process is not too complicated. I don’t recall every single detail but I’m sure the organization you choose will be able to support and guide you through it. I remember I wrote a letter to my host family talking about myself, my interests and my passions (the host family chooses you based on the material you send them, it’s a little bit like wands and wizards in Harry Potter, you need to be compatible). Then I made a collage of photos with my family and friends, as well as me playing sports and doing other activities. Of course you will also have to fill in documents with general info, also about your health and a VISA application if you’re going outside the EU. In addition I did an interview in which I talked about my motivation/expectations and my English knowledge was tested. I believe that if you go for longer periods of time the English test is more structured and with more questions, but don’t quote me on that! Don’t be scared of failing because I’m quite sure you’ll be given more than one chance.
Costs vary based on the type of program and the organization you choose. There are also scholarships available with a couple of them.
I’ll talk more about this experience in future articles, for now I want you to know that it’s an incredible opportunity to broaden your horizons as well as help you being more competitive when it comes to employment.
See ya later! x