Case Study: Exchange in Canada
Preparing for an exchange in Canada
by Louis from Sussex
Louis, 16, from Brighton, departs for a 10 month exchange to Québec, Canada in August 2016. Just before he departs Louis has taken the time to talk about his expectations as he prepares for exchange and his hopes for the year ahead.
How long until you depart and how are you feeling about the departure date?
I am due to depart for Canada in mid-August, so it is less than a month until I leave. I feel nervous about the experience ahead but I am also very excited. I have always wanted to go to Canada. It is a beautiful place and I hope to be able to do things that I can’t do in the UK and experience a different way of life.
What made you apply for an exchange?
I have known about exchange programmes all of my life because both my parents went on exchange when they were young. My Mother is from France and my Father is Danish and they met while on exchange in Hawaii. They speak passionately about their exchange experiences and so this encouraged me to apply. I believe it will be a great life experience for me and this is the prime time to take on a challenge like this.
Why did you choose Canada?
I chose Canada as a destination for my exchange because it has been my lifelong dream to travel there. I am a very outdoorsy person. I love camping and fishing and sailing, and I think that Canada will allow me to pursue these outdoor activities as well as many others. I love to get some fresh air every day and experience the countryside so I look forward to living in a more rural setting.
I have applied for an exchange in French-Canada so I also hope to improve my French language skills while I am away.
How have you found the process of preparing for departure?
The process of applying and getting ready for exchange has not been very hard. I completed my application and interview last year and I received my host family placement very quickly. My Mum has been working with the staff at MyEducation to get my visa and flights in place.
I have no regrets about signing up for the programme and I am looking forward to seeing what happens over the next year.
Tell us about your host family and how you have built a relationship with them?
I have been placed with a host family who live near a lake outside of Quebec City. The parents, Pauline and Jacques, are French-Canadians and they have two children who have now grown up and live nearby. They have one grandchild and one more due very soon.
Pauline and Jacques have hosted previously and they have been very kind and welcoming. We Skyped them as soon as we received the placement so we could immediately see who they were and the home that I would live in. We have communicated at intervals by email, Skype and Facebook since then and the other week I contacted them to wish Pauline a very happy birthday. It is great that we have got to know them before I depart and my parents have also been able to see where I will be and feel confident about the people I will be living with.
How long have you been learning French and how have you been preparing for your exchange and your language skills?
I have been lucky enough to be learning French all of my life. My Mum spoke French to me when I was a baby so it has come naturally to me but I am not fluent in the language. I have been practising my French lots over the past few months. Learning new phrases and speaking with my Mum and also with my cousin who likes to help me when he visits. I know that it will be challenging to speak only French after I arrive in Canada but I am keen to become fluent as soon as I can.
How have your friends and family and school been about you going away for a year?
Everyone at home has been very supportive of my wish to go on exchange. Some people did not know what an exchange was so I have had to explain it, but after that they have been very happy for me. Everyone says I am very lucky to have an experience like this at my age.
My school have been great too. I have just finished Year 11 so I will defer the start of Year 12 until 2017 when I return. I have no requirements from my British school regarding work, but I will have to interview for a place at my local Sixth Form College while I am in Canada, but this will be done easily over Skype.
What are you looking forward to about the exchange? What do you hope to experience?
I am looking forward to getting a new level of independence while on exchange. I expect I will grow up mentally during the year as I will have to start a new life and speak for myself and build new relationships. I am interested to see what it will be like to live in a home with no siblings in the house as I have two sisters, so it will be a different life as an only child in Canada.
Canada looks like a calm and welcoming place. I am looking forward to doing lots of different activities and I hope to be able to ski on a regular basis during the ski season. I am hoping to learn from my host family and my new friends and get involved in the activities that they do. My host father looks to be very adventurous with his son, so I hope to be able to join them when they go out.
What advice have you received about the exchange and what do you think will be valuable for you to use?
The advice that I have been given is to try and talk as much French as possible and to be outgoing and that way I should settle in very well.
Louis has chosen to participate in a MyEducation high school exchange to Canada. We wish Louis all the best for his year away and we look forward to receiving his updates and photos and supporting him through the experience.