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Travelling and getting to know the country in which you are temporarily living as an exchange student is one of the best things you can do while still there.
It is not only an entertaining and practical way to meet people and know places otherwise off the possibilities that regular tourists enjoy; but it is also an excellent way to enhance your experience as an exchange student. In the case of all exchange students that I have hosted at home, as well as my family, we invited them in all sorts of trips across Argentina and neighbouring countries like Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. As part of my job I travel around and go on expeditions that have been documented both at Andinia.com as well as many other websites, and in such a way these teens and youngsters got to know places hat they would hardly visit otherwise.
Local trips and excursions made by exchange students should always be planned as budget holidays; students simply do not have much pocket money to spend in such endeavours but since they are highly educational as well as entertaining, we have almost in all cases financed them for our guest students. However, it is important to stress that host families are in no way obliged to do so, being the case that they are already spending a lot of money just to have these students at their homes. In many cases, families simply do not have the cash, time or resources to do so.
We have had indeed our dose of failures in this regard, meaning that some may not have liked entirely the trips or, more commonly, some students apparently did not show appreciation for our efforts, but anyway we believe that in the end the trips will leave the mark intended. So it is important to remember that the expression of gratitude - a topic on which that I have already commented in other articles - is very important, but in some cases, unfortunately, students cut all their contacts with all people after their return to their homeland and they never send or answer a letter or email.
A very sad and unfortunate thing that betrays the whole point of cultural exchange motivated perhaps by some trait of personality (fear of loss, escaping situations seen as problematic, or whatever), in my opinion, for in such a way they erase almost all traces of friendship that they develop, something more valuable than gold. But I believe, or at least prefer to believe, that one day they will finally understand the value of people even if they are far away because it is never too late to fix things or say hello again. If that is the case, the experience would have been worth it.
Gustavo Sakuda, Line Krane and Anne Hogsa in Villazon, Bolivia.
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