Foreign exchanges take off as students begin their travels abroad


Kathryn Teissier Du Cros

French students collect their luggage after arriving at the airport in Marseille Saturday, Jan. 28.

Annalise Vito, News editor

The send-off date has arrived for North’s Spanish, French, and Italian exchange students, with Spanish students beginning to prepare for their flight to Burgos, Spain Friday, Feb. 11. Meanwhile, French and Italian students have already started to settle in after arriving to Marseille Saturday, Jan. 28 and Florence Friday, Feb. 3.

Despite North successfully running the foreign exchange program for many consecutive years prior to COVID-19, the three-year hiatus has given this trip’s revival a new sense of fresh excitement and nerves for participants.

Students from Spain arrived at North in late September and Italian students in October. French students will arrive in April.

 “The exchange is an opportunity for people to expand their experiences, and get outside of their comfort zone,” Spanish teacher Christopher Alberg added. “I often tell my students and their parents that the goal of my classes is the exchange program. The reason we learn languages is to give ourselves access to other cultures. So taking students on an exchange is the logical next step after you’ve done your classroom learning,” he added.

Despite offering a unique opportunity to world language learners, the exchange remains a difficult choice for students to make. 

“I am very nervous about having to speak Spanish for three weeks straight. While I feel I know enough of the language to get by, I am still on the younger side of the group and I will have to adapt pretty quickly,” said sophomore Brianna Milliken.

Though she has only hosted so far, Milliken said she feels that getting to practice her language in another country will be academically rewarding and an experience she’ll look back on fondly.

“Originally, North needed me last minute so I decided to host someone, but I was not planning on going on the exchange,” said senior Kayla Boggs, one of many students persuaded into the program by North’s high demand for hosting families. “Once my exchange student arrived, we started to build a friendship and got along very well. Now I can’t wait to go to Spain and visit her.”

According to Alberg, North grants students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with their language values and lifestyle, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many world language learners. 

“If you’re contemplating it, just go for it. I think that this experience gives students a taste of the real world and opens doors to take on a new perspective,” said Boggs.