Cultural immersion

German foreign exchange student Aaron Baldauf is one of the many students on campus spending a year away from their native countries.

Kasey Harvey

German foreign exchange student Aaron Baldauf is one of the many students on campus spending a year away from their native countries.

Kasey Harvey, Staff Reporter

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Studying abroad can be a way to enhance cultural perspective, have new experiences and learn a new language. That’s what several students visiting campus hope to get as they spend as they spend a year away from family and friends in Germany.

“If you’re really interested in the culture and the way the people live, you learn so much stuff you can use in your later life,” German foreign exchange student Aaron Baldauf said. “The language, the American life and responsibility are some of the main things even though there’s way more.”

To even get the chance to come to America, the students have to go through a specific process.

“I applied for the CBYX scholarship,” German foreign exchange student Joshua Kocheise said. “So parliament scholarship so parliament is sponsoring it. A member of the parliament in your region is selecting the scholars so he’s looking at the files and your application and he’s deciding who can go there.”

Getting the chance to be a foreign exchange student and adapting to a different language can be hard enough, but these students also have to adapt to to a new family.

“At first it was a little bit scary living with strange people,” Kocheise said. “But it’s getting good as soon as you meet them they welcome you.”

Students in Frisco ISD are required to take two years of a language other than English but Spanish teacher Makenzi Epps thinks to really know a language, a foreign exchange program can be an educational journey.

“I would 110 percent recommend studying abroad because it gives you completely different perspective on your own culture and the culture of someone else,” Epps said. “You learn to respect and appreciate people and understand yourself and those around you in a new way.”

In 2015, 313,415 students in America studied abroad. Sophomore Sophia Garofalo hopes to be one of those.

“So I want to go because my dad was from a Spanish speaking country,” Garofalo said. “I also am in JWAC which is Junior World Affairs Council and they really advocate people on doing the outsourcing program, so going to different countries.”

Living in another country can be the best way to learn a new culture as phrases and gestures can have different meanings when crossing borders.

“Some things that you think ‘Oh that person’s weird’ they’re actually just different so maybe someone is trying to be polite and you interpret it as being rude because you’re misunderstanding it because of your preconceptions based on your culture,” Epps said. “So, for example, when I traveled abroad I learned that it’s polite to bring a gift whenever you go anywhere you should bring a gift or if you call someone a certain name it makes them feel like they’re old instead of like you’re being respectful or if you take your shoes off in some places it is impolite or there are so many different things and it helps you be able to respect and understand other people.”