Take advantage of the time you have: Reflections from a Summer Prep Program Participant
Prep Programs are homestay programs with intensive English language classes, designed for participants who will be continuing on as students for the full year at an American high school.
- Why did you choose to spend a year in the United States as an exchange student?
I spent many days with the same routine in Japan. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Go to school. Go home. Sleep. Then wake up again…it was very boring for me. One day I thought about my future. I want to work in the international field. And I wondered if I spent every day doing the same routine, nothing special, will I be able to realize my dream? I didn’t think so. So, I decided to be an exchange student in the USA. I think there will be many hard challenges – to understand classes, to make friends – but I want to test myself. A special day, even if it is challenging, is better than a boring one.
- How has the prep program prepared you for your academic year in the United States?
It was a very good program to prepare for school. I learned many things about American high school that will help me when I go to one for the year. My favorite lessons involved writing and learning about American slang. I could learn many words by looking in the dictionary, but I could not understand some words that people use in conversations. I think this lesson will help me talk to friends in my high school. At the beginning of the program, I felt nervous – I couldn’t speak very well and didn’t want to try. But I decided that I will talk a lot the next time, and the classes helped me get better and be more confident.
- What was your most memorable experience with your prep host family?
My best memory is just talking with my host family. My host family took me many places – museum, a very good ice cream shop, a big shopping mall, zip lining and canoeing – but the conversations during everything were the best part. When we visited Washington DC, my host mother told me about the cherry blossom trees that were given as a gift from Japan, and I talked about how they are very famous in my country. Talking made us very close, helped me improve my English skills and taught me about America. I enjoyed talking with my host family the most.
- What advice would you give someone who is considering participating in a group exchange program?
Please talk to your host family! In this prep program, there are a lot of other exchange students from the same country, and it is easy to want to speak with them in your own language. It is fun and ok to spend time with the other students, but don’t forget that there are very good opportunities to do many things with your host family. And your host family is excited to do these things with you! I kept thinking, I can speak with Japanese people in Japan, but I can’t talk with my host family in Japan. So take advantage of the time you have with them.