by Alvaro Alexander Bernat Müller
I am a 16 year old teen from Madrid and I am in middle of an exchange year here in Illinois (U.S.). I will talk about the multiple reasons of why you should go on an exchange year. It does not have to be the US, it can be France, England or Germany. But one important reason to do it is to acquire intercultural competence.
Flying to another country to improve your language skills is almost unconceivable for some people. Don’t they know all the things it offers? And do they not realize that life changed?
Intercultural competence: We do not live anymore in a local village, we live in a global village
Throughout the last two decades, the world has realized that communication is the best way to reach successful relations, commerce and entertainment between countries. And now the question: In which way we should communicate or how we should change to better cope with the gobal village?
Well, becoming bilingual we can communicate better. That is why an increasing amount of countries are implementing or have implemented English as a second language in their educational systems. English is such an indispensable language that almost all (if not all) international companies strictly require the knowledge of a high level of English.
How to efficiently gain the high level of English that is going to play a crucial role on your chance of being employed or not?
Most people would say that learning it at school is enough, but the reality is that learning something that is not integrated in the society you live in is extremely inefficient and gives poor results. Too be merely fluent you have to think in the language you are trying to master. It is real easy to do this when you are forced to do it by a foreign society, living day by day having to express yourself the best you can to make people fully understand what you want to say. That is just one of the things an exchange year can offer you.
To become more tolerant
What my ongoing experience has taught me is that you have to be able to adapt, although I think I am a pretty open person already, I believe this situation will help with future problems in my life. I can understand that people are scared of going abroad, but I mean, life is tough, the only thing you can do about it is being tough yourself. By tough I mean being confident and sure about the steps you are going to take in the future. An exchange year can prepare you for this.
All that I am I have to thank to my decisions in life that were positively influenced by my family, my friends and my ENVIRONMENT. Those are the 3 things I have to thank for giving me the opportunity to live this experience, it is just great.
Now go and open yourself to the world, because it is changing, and you better embrace it.