Julian Sonderer, 4Wa, exchange semester in Johannesburg, South Africa
From the 1st February until 30th June 2007 I spent 5 months in South Africa. It was awesome, I really enjoyed my stay there!
I chose South Africa as my destination to improve my English, but not only because of that. I also wanted to experience a totally different way of life.
Once I heard the following sentence: God gave the Europeans the clock, but he gave time to the Africans. This sentence is definitely true; the Africans enjoy their life to the fullest, they don’t care what happened yesterday and they don’t really care what will happen tomorrow. What is important to them is that you enjoy the moment. I often can’t see this kind of attitude here in Switzerland.
For a black South African the most important things are his family (including all the relatives), his neighbours and the church. Own success stands behind the welfare of the family, the South Africans really have a community sense. Everybody supports everybody else; if a neighbour suffers, you support him as if he was your brother.
School back there was not really challenging, though. I had six subjects, the school started at 7.30 and finished at 14.00. We had the same subjects every day, two small breaks in between and after school we could do sports. I joined the soccer and rugby team. Once we didn’t train, I went playing pool with my friends or we went to the mall. I lived together with both black people and white people and the two families were great.
South Africa has a problem with crime, of course, but if you’re not silly, you won’t really be confronted with it. You just need to adapt quickly and not to be too ignorant. What’s more, it takes some time to get used to South African English and its distinctive features especially in pronunciation. However, I truly recommend South Africa to anybody. Mzansi fo sho (South for sure)!
Jasmine Hoch, 3S, exchange year in Montana, USA
I first had the idea of going to the United States when I saw a magazine from EF at school. I decided to spend a year there because I was interested in the American culture and their way of life and because I wanted to improve my English, of course.
In August 2003, time had come and I set off for Montana. Although it didn't start out very well (I had to change my host family because we didn't get along), I had a great year! My second host family was awesome and welcomed and treated me as a member of their family. I was quite nervous on my first day of school, but I soon realised that school is much easier over there than here. I could choose my classes, only English and American Government were compulsory lessons. The funny thing about school there is that you get a schedule for only one day because you have the same every day. I easily got involved in everything and joining the soccer team, too was one of the best decisions I could take! It was great to play in a team as our team spirit was awesome and every game was a new adventure anyway. The best thing was that I was a senior at school and could graduate from High School - it was just as we always watch it on TV!
The year went by very fast, I travelled quite a bit with my host family and friends and I just had a great time! I got more responsible for everything and made friends with people from all over the world. I have kept in touch with my host family ever since, they came here last summer and I'll certainly go back to visit them. What's more, I actually learned to see all the good things here in Switzerland and to appreciate them..!
Richard Höchner, 4S, exchange semester in Wellington, New Zealand
In 2004, I spent six months as an exchange student in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. I decided to do so because I wanted to improve my English and to see what life was like on the other side of this planet - and it definitely was an exciting and important experience! I lived with my host family and went to high school. Apart from that I met heaps of people and I also got the opportunity to travel around New Zealand and Australia, which was just wonderful!
The school I went to was quite different from what I'd experienced in Switzerland, but it was all really exciting. It's got a good reputation in arts and drama. I could choose all of my subjects which were history, film and tv studies, journalism, performing arts technology, practical music and mathematics.There are excellent student exchange programs for international students at Wellington High School. For more information see www.whs.school.nz.