The five and a half months that I spent as an exchange student were by far the best five and a half months of my life. The Welcome Camp in London was honestly the best way I could have started my adventure. I had so, so, so much fun and the people that I met there are some of my best friends, whom I still talk to daily. My time in Sweden is something that I will never regret - the crazy memories that I made are the things that I will remember forever. I jumped into a frozen lake, went skiing for the first time, tried all kinds of weird and wonderful foods, went on so many advenutres, and made the best friends I could have asked for.
This experience is something that I will remember forever, and I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity.
Kate Southon spent a semester in Sweden from January - June 2019
In the first half of 2018 I went on a six-month exchange to Spain through STS. I had always wanted to go on exchange and applied early 2017. STS in NZ were extremely helpful and kind. They dealt with everything, from helping me with my application, to my visa and my placement in Spain, my departure and everything when I was in Spain. There was an orientation meeting the November before I left, this was great as we were given a complete overview of the STS program, which helped me prepare myself for my exchange. At the orientation meeting another girl who had just recently returned from an exchange in Spain spoke about her experience, this was so convenient as I could ask questions to someone who had experienced something I was about to. I flew to Spain with another girl, at the airport we meet an STS representative who stayed with us until we went through immigration. I was so thankful to be flying with someone else, it made me feel a lot better and was easier to navigate the airports.
When we landed in Barcelona, we were meet by a representative from InterHispania, an exchange organisation in Spain that works with STS. The Interhispania representatives were very nice and helped me board the train from Barcelona to Murcia, where I would be staying during my exchange. My host family were amazing and so welcoming throughout my entire exchange. My local coordinator was also very helpful and even though I didn’t need to talk with her much, as I didn’t have any problems, I feel as though I could have. Throughout my time on exchange STS NZ kept in contact with me, checking everything was alright. Through STS I was able to go on the Euro tour at the end of my exchange, which was a 17-day trip around Europe, during which we visited 11 different beautiful countries. The Euro tour was a highlight of my exchange.
After I returned from my exchange STS NZ still checked up on me. Returning to New Zealand and NCEA half way through my year 12 was a little difficult at first as I had a lot to catch up on, but it wasn’t impossible. I was able to manage through with the help of my teachers and by getting stuck in. I talked with all my teachers even before going on exchange, so we were able to plan for my year ahead. I was able to do some internals over in Spain, so I could mainly focus on material for the external exams at the end of the year.
Ruby Ewing spent a semester in Spain from January - June 2018
A 15 year old kid, at the opposite side of the world from home, no parents to tell him what's right and wrong, making his own choices and having the best time with life long friends. I was having the best time of my life then and I didn't even realise it until I arrived back here in New Zealand. This trip taught me to be independent as I had travelled around the world unaccompained, relied on my own partly rational decisions and explored different and unique cultures.
Independence is a good thing to have because without it, you wouldn't be self reliant. You would constantly ride on the back of innoncent people as you rely on the knowledge and actions of them. The independence I found in Spain has helped me back here in NZ as it gives me more ability to make decisions and have confidence in myself.
I feel like it is important for people to take opportunties like this exchange to understand a different culture, go out of their comfort zone a little bit but most of all, take the opportunity and time to learn how to have independence as this is a skill you don't just pick up. You have to experience independence and immerse yourself in a different and challenging situation. And for this I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to go to Spain, to understand and experience this.
Oliver Thomas from Wanaka spent 3 months in Spain Dec - March
Football games, Homecoming and Prom, State Championships and Graduation; these are only a few of a huge list of things that I got to experience while spending my year in the small town of Sidney, Nebraska. For me, Sidney will forever be my second home and I love the fact that I can say I know people from all around the world. My amazing year, thanks to STS, was filled with creating friends, family, memories, and raging emotions and feelings that only exchange students get to understand. Too many things to be able to write in one small paragraph, so go out and experience it for yourself! Besides, how do you know who you truly are if you haven’t gone out and seen all the possibilities of who you could be?
Dana Windsor from Wellington, exchange student to the USA
My exchange to Canada helped me grow, as I became more independent, confident, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. Leaving my new family and friends was the hardest part, while the best parts were the truly Canadian experiences, like the ice hockey games, going to Tim Horton’s, and seeing the beautiful Canadian landscapes. I also loved meeting other exchange students and instantly bonding with them over our shared experiences.
Eleanor Heal from New Plymouth, exchange student to Canada
"Italy was an unbelievable experience that was life changing in all the right ways. Going in and planning to only absorb the architectural beauties of Italy but ended up returning to NZ with new skills and experiences was just an amazing way to step into the more mature stage of life. The exchange was amazing with new friends and a welcoming host family."
Louise Ing from Auckland, exchange student to Italy
I spent 6 months in a small country town in California, USA. I was totally pushed out of my comfort zone and from that I learnt a lot about myself. I made amazing friends and had a very nice, supportive host family which has given me great memories. I was lucky enough to go to a few other States and cities and met other exchange students from all over the world. I am thankful to STS for giving me an experience of a life time!
Andrea Gerrard from Auckland, exchange student to the USA
I gained so much knowledge while I was on exchange. I meet so many people, made a tun of friends. High school life is more than what you see in movies or on T.V. It was amazing going through the whole experience of high school over there. Its not like you see in the movies, the captain of the cheerleading group does not end up dating the football captain! No it's totally different. My host family was perfect, I was comfortable to go to them if I was upset and could be myself while living with them. My coordinator while I was in Texas Marlo Hunt was amazing. She took care of me and made sure things were alright. It was a great and perfect year, and I'm glad I did it.
Nikkasia Iraia from Rotorua, exchange student to the USA
I spent my exchange year in Wisconsin, USA. I did my senior year in the U.S for the whole school year to experience what it's like to be a student in an a American high school. The first few weeks were always going to be scary but very exciting as I was stepping out of my comfort zone, but I quickly came to learn and love everybody. Everyone you meet is so kind and welcoming, and is genuinely intrigued in you. It has been the most amazing year of my life, and it's an experience I'll never forget and hold on to forever. I made myself a second life over there, with friends and a family and I know that will never change.
Kate Gore from Te Aroha, exchange student to the USA
I went to Spain for 6 months for an exchange and I had the time of my life. I never would of believed that my Spanish would improve that much in only a few months. I can understand and speak quite well now and when i arrived, I could only say basic things. My host family made me feel at home and most weekends, we went out and saw something. If you go to a non speaking country, school is probably the hardest thing. I didn't understand anything until about the third month. You get so tired of just thinking and translating what people have said and the whole new culture is so different. Spanish people don't sleep much so i got very tired. Also one of the other hardest things was adapting to the culture. Eating at 3pm for lunch and 10pm for dinner. I would recommend going on an exchange to anyone and if you are learning a language or wanting to learn a language, I really recommend going to a non speaking country because this is the way to learn the language.
Grace Middleton from Auckland, exchange student to Spain
Going on an exchange is one of the best choices I have ever made in my life and especially going at such a young age. I think this experience has matured me and helped me to grow into a more widely cultured person and I am now able to appreciate the French culture with more knowledge. I would highly recommend going on an exchange to anyone I meet."
Ruby Prendeville from Auckland, exchange student to France
When i was asked to write a “small paragraph” about my exchange year so far I was stumped. How could I possibly fit a whole year of unbelievable experiences in a small paragraph? Well, after some thought it came down to this: its been a hell of a “ROLLER COASTER”, the type of ride which you wish would never end even if you got queasy at some points. With the twists, the turns and the lows came the peaks which made it all worth while. Only 3 months to go, the time is ticking by and I am faced with mixed feels of wanting to go home and not wanting to ever go back. The highlights so far which you all are probably dying to know is:
Clarine Fourie from Auckland, exchange student to Germany