Student Testimonials​

Jannik (ETC Exchange Student From Germany)

"Living in a small town has been more fun than I expected it to be. Here, everybody seems to know everybody. I feel like it has made it easier for me to meet new people and make friends. I have had opportunities to see wildlife that is exclusive to America on a regular basis, unlike in a big, busy city. My school is a very small school, and I have made several lasting friendships. The class sizes are small, so I feel like I have gotten better 1-on-1 teaching and more help (when needed) than I would have gotten in a bigger class size. I also had the amazing opportunity to play basketball daily at school, which is not something I get to do back home. I also was able to play baseball this year, without having to worry about try-outs that much larger schools have. I have gotten to see the natural beauty surrounding my small town. Rolling hills and pastures full of farm animals and the most amazing sunsets that I have ever saw. I have felt very safe here, compared to big cities or suburbs with numerous neighbors. We have about 7 houses in our neighborhood and everybody looks out each other. It is a very quiet neighborhood, where taking a walk around the block alone is no big deal. I have heard my host mom say “small town, big heart” more times than I can count. At first, I didn’t understand it, but now I do. This town may be small, but the amount of support the town has for our high school sports teams and each town member is huge. Living in a small town, I am not “just another person.” I have gotten so many opportunities to do things that I know I wouldn’t have in a big city. People are so helpful and quick to show me “neat things” because they understand that I am only here for a short amount of time and probably won’t get the chance to do some things again. If given the opportunity for a do-over, I would still choose this small-town life".

Charlotte (ETC Exchange Student From Germany)

"The time you are an exchange student is the best of your life. You travel to a different country and live there for 10 months with people you have never met before. You get to know a new culture and make friends all around the world. But what if there is a pandemic in the world? I know that this year is a little bit different from other years and because of that I am especially glad and thankful to be here with my amazing host family! My Family is currently in quarantine. My Host dad got tested positive for COVID. But let's start from the beginning. One year ago, in November, I started to prepare my exchangeyear, in December I had everything figured out with my German organization Partnership International (PI) and they send me the link to the online application. Every day I got more and more excited. But then COVID happened. For a long time, it wasn’t even clear, if I could even come here and spend the year in the United States. Many German organizations canceled the exchange for their students. I am very thankful for PI and ETC for giving me the opportunity to be here and make those amazing experiences possible. Now I’m here, 4 months later. Time passes like nothing. I’ve experienced so much until now and we are having so much more planned. Overall I’m having a great time in the United States. I’m super thankful for my Family, who gives me a home during that year, supports me and is just always there for me... I think that because of COVID the family is getting closer together. We’ve had so much fun, watching weird and funny shows together, playing Trivia every Friday, cooking German recipes from my grandparents, baking cookies and or cakes and playing card and board games together. Of course, I hope for a vaccine and COVID rates to go down so we can go to High school normally, make more friends and get another exchange experience. But until then we all should be happy and thankful to be here and make the best out of it!"

Mia (ETC exchange student from Germany)⠀

"When I first came to the United States I realized that I’m really going to live there for about 10 months and in another environment too. I also realized that this was going to be a huge step for me, a step I could never forget. And why would I want to? This year has been amazing!! I was so lucky to live with a family that fits me so well that by the end of the year they weren’t strangers, they were and they still are my family. I learned to love them that now they are a huge part of my life. I’m so happy they let me into their lifes and be a part of their amazing family. They supported me in every single thing, they took care of me, they provided for me, they took me on trips, they let me meet their family, but most importantly they loved me too. Any student that is going to be, or is a part of their family is such a lucky student and can be excited about a wonderful exchange year. But every student that is going can be very excited and should be! Because even though we all experience a different exchange, it’s going to be awesome if you make the best out of it! Say yes to opportunities you get like go to football or basketball games with friends, join a club or sport, hang out with friends,go to church, try a new hobby, show your host family how much you appreciate them, go to the school dances, or just enjoy the nature. Those are all simple things that I have engraved in my heart. Those little moments are memories I don’t want to and never will forget. I believe that I am the happiest teenage girl alive because I chose to be an exchange student. This was the best choice I’ve ever made!! I am so very grateful and thankful for everyone I met and everything that happened".

Alba (ETC Exchange Student From Spain)

"I don’t feel like home. From now on, I’ll never be home. Even when I return to Spain and live in the place I’ve always been with the family I share blood with. Because home is here with my host family, but home is also in Spain, and I can’t be at two places at once. It hurt living experiences, meeting new people, exploring new places and trying new things that I know I’ll miss hard. I can imagine myself in some months wishing I could get back and talk with that person, or hug that one, or see that again. Having a biological family and a host family means that I’ll always miss one, ass well as all my friends. Probably, when I see this in a year I will smile gratefully, because this is one of the best things that could ever happen to me. That’s the meaning of being an exchange student for me, never being fully at home. Having my heart split in two with an ocean in between. I’ll never be home again, but I’d do this a thousand times".⠀

Lur (ETC exchange student from Spain)

"I’m Lur, since I was 10 years old I would dream to go to another country and learn their language and culture. When I was 14 my dream came true. This is my experience as an exchange student in New Mexico. It all started on the 3rd of August of 2019 when I realized that I had to do everything for myself. I just arrived to the US and I knew that it was going to be one of the greatest adventures I would ever have. I was so happy and excited that I couldn’t sleep if I didn’t unpack everything. “Be like you are at home but do have new experiences you wouldn’t do at home” my mom told me. The day of the orientation came and I didn’t want to socialize with anyone but the people I knew, because that’s how I was. When our local coordinators told us all the rules and how everything was going to work they also told us that everything was going to be hard, as expected, but I thought it was going to be in a very different way. It was difficult for me to express myself to all my new friends about anything, to improve in a sport I knew nothing about, and more stuff I struggled a lot with until I tried to improve. I changed, after some time I was a person easy to be with, nice, fun, and crazy".

Sara (ETC Exchange Student From Italy)

"Exactly two months ago I left Italy, I left the place where I always lived, I left my family, I left my friends. For the first time in my life I was about to change my daily life, leaving the nest that welcomed me for 17 years and finding myself alone to face a completely different reality. Sometimes I think about it and I still wonder what pushed me so much to leave my world for ten months and go to live in a completely different continent, 8000 kilometers away. I think this was one of the most difficult decisions of my life but at the same time it was the choice that will make me a better person, able to take my life in hand and completely upset her. Now that two months have passed I can say that I still feel like a guest in this extravagant country, but nevertheless I must admit that this completely different culture has already conquered a part of me; I leave the rest for the next eight months ahead of me".

Sam (ETC Exchange Student From Vietnam)

"Even though the COVID-19 caused the abrupt end of my Exchange Program, I had such an amazing seven months in the United States. I'm very grateful that I met a dedicated family, good friend, nice local coordinator, great teachers, and people who helped me when I needed it. I want to thank ETC for the chance they gave me to learn about the new culture, to try new foods, and to see places that I had never seen before. One lesson I learned from the program was that I should satisfy with the things I have. I satisfied with the wonderful experiences that I had during the time I was in the US. I satisfied with the completion of items in my bucket list, including visiting the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and NASA Space Center. I enjoyed doing things that I was terrible before, like playing sports or doing physical works. Mountain biking was a new and a bit scary experience for me. I thought I would break my arms or my legs a couple of times. By the way, I couldn't imagine that I was sitting in the airplane headed back to Vietnam shortly after that. Ultimately, it's not a goodbye, it's a see you later. I will go back to Virginia to visit you someday. Thank you all one more time".

Letizia (ETC exchange student from Italy)⠀

"This experience gave me a lot; I matured, I learned to take decision by myself and figure out situations alone, to wash my clothes, cook my lunch, I stepped out from my comfort zone, I tried new food (a lot) discovering that veggies are not that bad and tacos and burritos are some of my favorite foods, I learned English and now I'm like fluent, I realized how much my family and friends are important to me and I found myself missing basic activities like walking to the grocery store or to the bar (it's not only for alcoholic drinks) to hang out with my friends. It surely wasn't easy but it made me a stronger person that knows what she wants and she is not going to stop in front of anything or anyone! During this fantastic experience I was so lucky to find a fantastic host family (that I'm never gonna thank enough) who welcomed me as a member of their family since the first moment we met, they always supported me, and they always will, we created a beautiful relationship that no time and distance are going to break. I wanna thank all those friends, teachers and my team that were there for me and helped going through tougher moments, you mean a lot for me!". 🇮🇹💙🇱🇷⠀

Tommy (ETC Exchange Student From Italy)

"Choosing to do the exchange year was the best choice of my life. I could see the world from a completely different point of view. I arrived in a place where nobody knew me and, because of that, everybody wanted to know how I was. I can actually understand also a part of yourself that I didn’t know, because I was facing this whole experience with no past in that place. Doing the exchange it’s not only learning a new language but also trying to be out of the confort zone. Learning another culture is so important to open your mind and to understand where you belong, maybe after years you find out that you’re born to live in another country and not your native country and all this time you felt in the wrong place… If somebody has the chance to do this experience that person must go, no worries about being far from home because another home is waiting for you".

Joline (ETC exchange student from Germany)⠀

"Family is not only defined by blood and genes it's the people in your life who want you in theirs and those whom you can always count on. Family always brings out the best in you! It's the most precious gift".

Leo (ETC exchange student from Italy)

"Also this chapter of my life came to an end. These were probably the best 9 months of my life. I am glad because I met the perfect people to that make possible that my time in the US was awesome. Thanks to everyone that was part of it I ll never forget you".

Sophie (ETC exchange student from Germany)⠀

"THANK YOU! And once again: I really don't have enough space to show and tell how grateful I am. I finally found some words. This year was the biggest year of my life. I met wonderful people, made life long friendships, and family, had incredibly much fun, increased the language and much more! Of course it was not always easy but I learned and grew so much! And I am so thankful for all the support and for accompany. Sadly COVID-19 happened and decided to go home. And sadly, I wasn't able to say to everyone in person "goodbye", but I'll catch it up! I promise. You all have a huge impact in my life and I really appreciate it. I love you all! See you later Arizona 🌵 ☀!"

Natalia (ETC Exchange Student From Brazil)

“My exchange was a life-changing experience! I would be lying if I say that everything was super easy and I got used to everything really fast, but it wasn’t like that. It was hard at the beginning, especially for me since I live in a sea coast city. The humidity is pretty high, I have the ocean next to me, but then I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it was completely different. Super dry weather, thousands and thousands miles from the ocean, in the middle of the desert. New Mexico has lots and lots of Mexicans, as you can imagine because of the name, so besides the weather and the climate, the Mexican culture got me too. Now my favorite type of food is the Mexican and my host family wasn’t even Mexican – what I want to mean is that we didn’t have 100% of the time that kind of food at home – they are from New England actually (the Brousseau’s). My school was really mixed, there were people from all over the world, but only 4 exchange students. So I think it was really nice to get to know at least a little bit of each culture. My school was super nice too. I didn’t notice any bullying over there, everybody was really friendly to everyone. About my host family, I don’t have words to describe them. They are amazing. I couldn’t have had a better host family even if I had the chance to choose it. Super passionate, they really try to understand what’s wrong if we’re upset about something and communication is the key at home. I love them and miss them every day since I came back. I miss everything about my exchange. I wouldn’t change anything, not even a comma of it. I learn every time I passed through a hard time when I was there. The exchange helped me to have a better relationship with people, to understand people’s feeling better, to grow mentally and be more mature. And improve my English of course lol. I have to thank each one of the ETC team for this experience. Without the amazing team you have everything what I just told wouldn’t be possible. It’s impressive the job you do to change each student’s life".

Suhelia (ETC exchange student from Mexico)

"The journey started when I arrived in Elon, North Carolina on the 14th of August. After a hard goodbye from people I love, long flights, making new friends on the airplane and almost getting lost in the Atlanta airport, I arrived safe and sound. It was a sunny day; the weather was perfect! My first impression of Elon was that it is out in the country. There are not many tall buildings like in the city that I am from. Elon is full of trees and there´s not a lot of traffic. My host family received me in a very nice way. We talked for hours and it seemed like we had known each other for a long time. They are the most wonderful host family in the world. I can´t imagine this experience without them, but before going too far in the story, let me start by telling you more about Mexico´s lifestyle and culture and how it compares to the one here in the United States. While it is a blessing to live in the United States, it is also a challenge. I am a social and friendly person; this has helped me a lot in the adaptation process. When I first arrived I was afraid that I wouldn´t fit anywhere, but throughout this experience, I have met friendly and welcoming people who have made this easier. I can´t explain how much I love all my friends and host family. I have created really strong relationship bonds in school and outside school. Thanks to ETC (my traveling organization), I have met people from all around the world: Brazil, Italy, China, Spain, Germany, and France! I identify myself a lot with these friends because they are going through the same thing as me. I have learned from all their cultures and languages. We went ice-skating, to the beach, shopping, to fall and winter festivals and parties together. Most of them did the exchange program for just one semester. It was sad to say goodbye, but I know that these friendships will last forever even if we may not see each other in five or ten years. Oh, coming back to my host family, words can´t even describe how grateful I am to have them in my life. They have supported me through bad and good times. Every time I´m homesick or something bad happened they cheer me up. I can describe my family as charismatic, cheerful, funny, emphatic and with many unique aspects. They almost make it feel just like home. I have learned a lot from this experience, and I have grown as a person. I have become more independent, responsible, organized, social and active. My English has been improving day by day; every day I learn a new word, meaning or slang".

Rikako (ETC Exchange Student From Japan)

“My exchange student life has had great memories. I have learned a lot of things in America such as English, American culture, overcoming hardship, and love. You might think “Love?” Yes. I learned to love during study abroad. One big difference between America and Japan is that people show their feelings more. In my experiences American people have been so nice and open to me, showing me love as well as saying it. Americans often show and tell love, but Japanese don’t often do it. This is one of the major differences in culture. Japanese are shy and don’t show the feelings that they think. I’m very shy and I can’t express my feelings easily as well. My host family often says “l love you.” to each other. It’s very sweet, and when someone says it to me, my feeling is so happy! I’ve never said it a lot to my family. I just tell it only on someone’s birthday or during a celebration. That changed my feelings. I felt like I should tell them more than I thought. Also, I have to think more about my family and make my relationship with them more important. Before I came here, I dreamed about what it would be like to be a part of a family like my host family. I believe my dream came true. Each day I have spent really living a fruitful life with them. When I can’t understand, they try to explain things to me and tell me new things, even my little host siblings! When I’m sad, they try to encourage and comfort me with good advice and a hug. At school, many teachers and friends have helped me. When I can’t understand during class, teachers explain it to me by using easier English and by talking more slowly. My friends help interpret to other friends because my English has a different accent and sometimes people can’t understand. My friends have taught me many things such as popular songs, dances, and some American slang. Also, many students say hi to me in the hallways. The boys taught me American handshakes as well. I have had so many opportunities to meet people and make new friends. I have lovely friends who support me in Japan. On my birthday, my classmates made me an amazing video of me. I was so surprised and moved by their kindness. When I go back to Japan, I want to set a good example for us all. I’m so glad that I could study abroad and meet a wonderful host family, friends, and people! I felt many people’s kindness and love in America".

Diletta (ETC exchange student from Italy)

"When I got on that plane, I left everything: my family, my friends, my house. Alone, 17 years on the other side of the world. In a moment all my certainties have disappeared. But now, after exactly five months, I can say that the school year abroad has changed my life. I lived unforgettable moments, I learned a new language, I discovered how perfect strangers in a moment can become so important, to be able to call them family. Certain ties will never broke, in these cases, the distance is only in number. I understood that if you have a dream, it does not matter whether you are alone, or 7,000 km from home, but you must never give up! The word “impossible” does not exist. I would never have imagined all this, now my life really looks like a movie, a beautiful dream from which I would never wake up".

Marta (ETC exchange student from Spain)

"My experience drastically changed after being around 7 months in the U.S. After classes were cancelled I had to say goodbye to my two best friends who went home and I had to decide whether I wanted to do the same. Despite all the recommendations I decided to stay, we though it wouldn't be safe to leave and, to be honest, I didn't feel like I was prepared for my exchange to be over yet... At first, I feared I would regret the decision, now I look back and wished I had got out of my room more but, even with all these time, something as simple as the family dinners, movies, walks and bike rides made my days. My host sister was really busy with schoolwork, so I also spent a lot of time talking with my host parents, learning new things every day and opening with them more and more. We had already connected throughout the year, but I think going through quarantine together made me know them even more. It for sure made it harder to leave, but I think that I would have never been completely prepared to say goodbye anyway. By the time I had to leave I realized that If I was so heart broken It was because despite everything, my exchange year and the time I spent with my host family had been worth it and I wouldn't change it for anything".

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