Meet your Support Coordinator: Kristen
As you know, your Support Coordinators are here to help you with any questions or concerns you have throughout your exchange year.
What you may not know is that each and every Support Coordinator has also spent time living in a different country! We have all experienced many difficult and wonderful challenges while living abroad.
Check out the interview below to find out about Kristen’s experience studying abroad:
(Kristen and her host family in France)
Where did you study abroad?
I spent one semester studying in Tours, France and another studying in Pontlevoy, France. Both of those semesters I stayed with a host family. I also taught English for a year in Gaillac, France.
What was the hardest part about making friends in a new country?
For me, not feeling comfortable with the new language in the beginning made it difficult to connect with new people. It is especially hard to tell jokes and be funny in a new language.
What was one thing that you did that made the process easier?
I made sure to only speak with my family back home once a week. Sunday is the day of rest in France, so I had free time every Sunday to talk to my family in the U.S. Throughout the week I made an effort to talk with my host family and friends in French. After some time and hard work my French began to get much better and I could even tell a few jokes!
What would you give as advice to current students about making friends in a new country?
It can be really intimidating to be in a new place where you don’t know anyone. I cried my first night in France. I had missed the train on the way to meet my host family and I just felt so overwhelmed by the new language. But after a few weeks of speaking the language and making friends, things got easier. My advice would be:
- Don't be scared to introduce yourself to someone new. Or be the first person to say hi. A lot of kids in the U.S. might be hesitant to approach you. They are nervous too!
- Be really open to new people and experiences
Even though it is difficult to be somewhere new, it can also be really amazing. While in France I got to explore a mushroom cave, go to a goat cheese farm and ride on a private jet! I am still in contact with my host family today, many years later, and consider them to be a second family.
I had a great experience studying abroad and I hope you all do too!
Remember, you can reach Kristen and the rest of the Support Team at 1-800-448-9944.
As they say in French: “À la prochaine!”