Exchange into the Real World


Tatiana Botero , Discoverer Editor

Ask any high school senior at this point of the school year: graduation is daunting. Not only does it mean facing the real world outside the flawless crystal bubble that teenagers live in during the first 18 years of their lives, most importantly, graduation means taking the one decision their entire future will rest upon. It is alarmingly common that high school seniors do not even have a remotely clear idea on what they want their lives to be like after graduation; which is why many opt for what would sometimes be considered the “easy” way out: an exchange program to another country. Contrary to traditional belief though, these exchange programs are so much more than a vagadero, where teenagers supposedly only travel, party and take a break from their education. This is actually an experience that shapes individuals, obliging them to become independent and grateful while shining light on new cultures, languages and acquaintances.

Precisely because of these benefits, the popularity of taking an exchange program after graduation is increasing every year. This generation of students is a lot more aware of the impact of globalization in modern society, which is why deciding to take this trip is probably the best choice students can make. The amount of people deciding on this experience over starting college right away, is astonishing. According to Portafolio Newspaper, Colombia is the second country in Latin America with most students studying abroad, with “around 2,500 students living an international experience.” This number is a clear representation of how many students are choosing life experiences and lessons first, over conventional education that won’t necessarily bring them as much knowledge as these programs. Most importantly, students’ main goal with these trips is to fluently learn another language. Specifically at TCS, France and Italy are the most common destinations for a six-month trip in order to master a third language that would guarantee many opportunities in this globalized society. Additionally, as explained by TCS college counselor Maria Teresa Mejia, “Students not only go to continue with their language, they also do courses on some other activity they enjoy such as cooking, designing or sports.” Undoubtedly, this is an experience that would not only open foreign academic doors for students, but would also strengthen their skills on aspects they are truly passionate about.

Furthermore, many high school students around the world and Colombia, have already lived through this eye-opening experience that pushed them to become better people and more competent citizens of the world. Some might argue that high school students are supposed to start college right after graduation due to high competition and the need of a correct career choice for their future success. However, as explained by Antonia Villegas, high school graduate that already came back from six months in Portugal, “I decided to do this trip after graduating high school because we are young, full of ideas and it is the time when we are starting to be independent so it can truly help us grow.” Taking this path instead of going directly into college, is truly beneficial for personal growth and success; right after high school is the perfect moment to properly learn how to be independent and live away from the commodities that home offers. Due to the high number of positive experiences, more TCS students take this decision every year. For example, current senior Ana Sofia Ramirez already planned her trip to France after graduating and assures that, “This will all benefit me in my future because I will be more open up to new people, learn about the French culture and have more time for myself overall.” Students that are near graduation, should consider the remarkable benefits of this experience. Taking this opportunity means putting their personal growth before anything else, creating more valuable individuals not only academically, but also socially and culturally.

In a society that is continuously becoming more universal and globally united, these types of experiences are the ones that benefit individuals’ success the most. Modern students think about how decisions will impact their future before taking them, and this is an opportunity that brings nothing but positive life lessons. This movement of decentering from traditional student behaviours, is what will create outstanding individuals that will eventually be prepared to take on today’s challenging and competitive society.