Hi, everyone, I'm really interested in participating in an exchange student program before I get out of high school. I know they're awfully expensive, and with a lower-middle to middle-middle class standard of living, they can be well nigh impossible to afford. However, through poring through google and talking to my guidance counselor, I've learned about the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Essentially, it's a year-long (or short-term) exchange program for students aged 15-19. Unlike most prgrams out there, Rotary doesn't charge a 'middleman' fee, year-long students are eligible for a modest monthly allowance, and while in their host country, their host family of Rotarians will handle room and board. Not to say that it's inexpensive: the program entails the student to defray the cost of -Round-trip airfare to their host country -Health and accident insurance -All travel documents, such as passports and visas -Clothing and spending money -An emergency fund for the student's use during the year There are three ways that I plan on paying for my trip. The first, and most obvious, is to obtain some modest summer employment. The only problem with that is that I live in charming Nowhere, PA, and jobs are difficult to come by. Any suggestions that I might have overlooked for employment in a rural college town are greatly appreciated. I hope to make $1000 over the summer, maybe a little bit more, which should easily cover the cost of my airfare and travel documents. Second, I have grandparents that any teenager would love. They're kind, compassionate, but don't fit the mold of traditional grandparents. They're both still working, both very active, and both tend to spoil me a little bit (ice cream, trips to the city, and fun activites). I've mentioned it to my grandmother, and even though she's worried about the prospect of me being overseas for a year, she seems as though she could contribute. Third, my parents aren't real gift-givers. Fortunately for me, they give money. They spend about $100 each for Christmas and my birthday, which is $200 that I don't have to pull out of nowhere. I have $150 in my savings right now, so i'm planning on having $1350 saved for the trip, plus whatever my grandparents are willing to add. I don't think my financial problems are problems. -------------------------- Even though I've been scheming about how to PAY for the trip, I haven't decided where I want to go. I want to leave North America, of course, but beyond that I'm open to anything. I've been thinking, though, and countries that come up over and over again include The UK Home to the rolling hills of Wales, the financial and cultural hub of London, and Jaffa Cakes, the UK is the birthplace of American culture, the English Language, and nutmegy Yorkshire Pudding. Shakespeare wrote of its beautiful and unspoiled countryside, and I'm fascinated by its architecture and history. I've also met many English people in my time, and found them to have a hilarious sense of humor, a kind and generous personality, and excellent teeth. Germany I've been studying the German language for two and a half years, and feel like a tiny David trying to trounce that ugly and unruly Goliath known as German grammar. Even if my German language skills leave a healthy amount to be desired, I've found their culture and history to be fascinating. And although I'm still a poor German speaker, the language has a certain beauty all its own. I want to visit Germany because of the influence of German culture on my area of Pennsylvania, the beauty of its towns, cities, and countrysides, and because my heritage (like about 99.9% of my classmates) is German. The Czech Republic A delightful little country, I had the opportunity to visit Prague and most of Bohemia with well-heeled Czech relatives in the summer of 2000. I said that my ancestry was German, but I may have been misleading. My father is about 7/8 Czech and 1/8 German, while my mom is a hopeless cultural mutt. However, she does have good-sized chunk of Czech in her family tree. I fell in love with the hundreds castles that we saw in our 3 weeks in the Czech Republic, and loved the attitude of its people. -------------------------- I admit this entry has gotten really long, but I'm really excited about the possibility of spending an academic year with multiple host families in whatever country I choose. If any MacRumors members have been or will be going on an exchange program, I'd love to hear your experiences or aspirations. To the residents of Europe, Asia, and Australia, where do you think would be ideal place for me to spend a year? To pessimists, what crucial details am I missing? I thank everyone for their time, and hope to hear from you guys soon. Again, any and all stories, recommendations, and tidbits of advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!