Take a school trip to a foreign country!

One of the most exciting things about taking a language at my high school was always that every other year they took a trip to a country that spoke the respective language. Spanish learners went to Spain, Punjabi learners went to India, German learners went to Germany.

For the kids who went on these, they were a ton of fun. I had the pleasure of going to Germany in the summer of 2010, and I would fully recommend making a similar trip. If you’re unsure if you want to go or not, maybe I can convince you.

If your family doesn’t travel much, this might be one of the only opportunities you have to travel, let alone leave your home country.

The best way to decide if you want to go on the trip is to consider who else is going. As I said, my high school goes every other year, and I knew originally that I could go either in 2013 or in 2014. While going in 2014 would have been a great reward for graduating high school.

Don’t think like that! I opted instead to go in 2013 because I had far more good friends going, and I’m very glad I went when I did. My friends who didn’t go the first time ended up regretting it, most didn’t go at all. Going with friends makes it far more enjoyable and means when you come back, you’ll have someone to share your inside jokes with.

Each trip is different. Some involve solely sight-seeing, others involve living with people. My trip was a combination of both: I lived with a family who had a girl my age for three weeks. I went to school with the girl, but our group also would travel to nearby cities during the day to see touristy stuff. If you’re not into sightseeing, talk with whoever puts on the trip beforehand to see just how much there is and how much free time there is. Personally, I hate sightseeing, but being with my friends made it better.

Sightseeing is usually a big part of trips.
Don’t worry about how well you speak the language. In most other countries, people learn English and you’ll at least be able to survive. You won’t be alone either — other people in your group will, of course, be traveling with you that don’t speak the other language fluently. Your skills with the foreign language will also get a lot better while you’re there. After my Germany trip, I began to think in German and I became far closer to being fluent than I was before.

If you have a basic grasp of the language, try to talk to some of the locals. If you don’t get to see many kids your age, try asking your teacher where you might find some at when you have free time. In Germany, swimming pools were great places to hang out (aside from the obvious school, but not everyone gets to go to that). There’s an appeal to making foreign friends. They can show you more of the area and you’ll have far more fun. And who knows, if you want to come back they might offer you a place to stay!

Sadly, money is always an issue, and with the dollar sucking lately (and not likely to get much better), it’s understandable if you can’t make it. if you have a job, you might be able to save up for a year to go, but that will be hard. Try to get your parents to pay if you can. Selling candy at school is always a great way to save money. A lesser-known method is recycling — try to save your cans and bottles and/or go door-to-door to take other people’s. You can rake in a couple hundred dollars easily that way. Money should not be the only thing stopping you — try your best to make ends meet. Opportunities like these come once in a lifetime!