For some people, the idea of traveling to another country is a nightmare. For others, it’s a dream come true. Hannah Singleton, a senior at Corvallis High School, has belonged to the latter category since the day she got her passport.
In the summer of 2016, Singleton got to spend a month in France with a host family. Along with eating pastries and exploring Paris, she made connections that will last a lifetime. The best part: “…looking down on the Champs D’Élysées while being on top of the Arc De Triomphe, I stood in one spot for twenty minutes just watching all the traffic circling below and the whole moment felt completely surreal,” Singleton said. And as for the whole experience? “I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to leave.”
Thankfully, she won’t have to- at least, not permanently. Singleton’s summer in France helped her decide to study French in college. Eventually, she plans to spend a year abroad.
Around 73,000 international students attend high school in the United States every year, and Corvallis is currently host to several. Lorenzo Vezzoli, born in Italy, decided to spend the 2016-17 school year in the United States after a trip with his family. He recalls, “when I had to choose where to spend my year abroad, I had no doubts.”
Every country is different, but most exchange students share similar experiences. According to Vezzoli, “the best part so far is the people I’ve met. I thought it would have been really hard to make new friends but American guys are very friendly and helpful so it was pretty easy to integrate.” Exchange students typically agree on another thing, as well: living in another country can be a good experience for anyone. Alongside new friends and improved language skills, Hannah Singleton gained a new way of looking at the world, and she now believes that nothing “can give you more confidence than not only traveling solo in another country but living there, for however long a period it is.”
“Exchange isn’t a year in a life, it is a life in a year,” is a common saying among exchange students. Although Hannah Singleton only spent a month in France, it gave her confidence and a clear idea of the future. Lorenzo Vezzoli, who isn’t even halfway through his exchange, already dreads the day that he’ll need to leave his new friends. Of course, not everyone is cut out for leaving behind their family and familiar life for something new. But for those that are, time spent living in another country can be an unforgettable experience.