Spending a year in another country is great for several reasons. You get to meet new people, experience a different culture, create memories for a lifetime and have the pleasant side effect of constantly improving your language skills.
Attending high-school abroad automatically comes with running into loads of new people. However, how easy is it to make the right friends when not really knowing anyone? While most of the students in your visiting country have grown up and known each other for years, you as the new student in class, have to become quite active to be accepted by them. Especially in multicultural places like Toronto, where new students constantly arrive from all over the world, this can be pretty challenging. Nevertheless, once you have managed to get into a group, your self-esteem grows a lot. From your new friends you learn about their family background which often differs a lot from your home country, which widens your social understandings. Furthermore, a new country also gives you a chance to present yourself in a way you want to be known for and remembered by, which might also be different from what you experienced back home.
A new country means a new culture. By living abroad you are literally forced to expose yourself to the new country’s traditions and cultural identities. You experience what you would never learn from a book and since you are constantly absorbing what is happening and in which way it differs from what you experienced back home. By comparing the cultures of the two countries, you learn to reflect critically on the pros and cons of both places.
Improving your language skills is another pleasant side-effect of spending a year in a place where they speak another language than your mother tongue. At first it can be tough and tiring to be surrounded 24/7 by the foreign language, but soon you get used to the speed and the different pronunciation. You stop being shy and start expressing yourself. Your vocabulary range increases gradually and confidence will become less of an issue. You attend high-school like any other local student and are asked to deliver the same set of skills. This is motivating and challenges you in a way that keeps you studying hard, which is great.
The memories created abroad will be the most valuable part. The richness of such an experience abroad can never be taken from you again. For an entire year you can live in a “new world”, meet new people, see places that you’ve never seen before, try out exotic food and cheer for teams you would never see play in your home country. At the same time life back home seems to stand still. The same people live the same life, talk about the same problems and laugh about the same jokes. In the mean time you will have gathered forever lasting impressions and moved on to a whole new chapter, still being the same person.
To sum up, a year abroad gives people a chance to make new connections, widen their cultural awareness, strengthen their personality, improve their language skills and carry on unique memories for a life time.