When I was in high school I always found other countries and cultures to be fascinating. I was a young girl with big dreams but I never thought I would have an opportunity to study abroad in another country. I took Spanish from middle school, all through high school, and then continued in college. After 7 years of Spanish, I still feel inadequate to fluently speak the language, which is why I wish I knew about an organization like ultimateXchange that helps people grow and immerses them in the language and culture they find so amazing.

My team and I returning from a ride in the traditional canoes of Panama.

My team and I returning from a ride in the traditional canoes of Panama.

What is so exciting about ultimateXchange is that there are opportunities for all age groups. Kids in Elementary and Middle School can be involved in full American English immersion day camp experiences that are led by mother-tongue American English teachers and speakers in the month of June. You might wonder what an ordinary day at an English camp would be like, and the answer is, super fun! There will be interactive English lessons and application activities through games, sports, arts & crafts, and other fun activities kids enjoy.  

What’s really neat about high school age students, is that they spend the month of July with American host families across the USA fully immersed in the English language and American culture. When I was in high school, I got to go to Panama, but I only got to be there for two weeks. Because of that my Spanish didn’t improve, even though I got to experience a different culture. Had I gotten to stay with a native family, I would have been forced out of my comfort zone and learned to speak Spanish better as I adapted to a new culture. So as a 20 year old looking back at my life, let me advise you to take up any opportunity you have to spend as much time as you can developing your language skills fully immersed somewhere! You can’t buy skill - you can only experience and develop it!

Some friends from my team along the Panamanian river in Panama.

Some friends from my team along the Panamanian river in Panama.

If high schoolers stay abroad in America for a month, they get to be part of the everyday life of an American family. They get to do what they do from typical house chores to joining the family on vacation. One of the four weeks, students will participate in a high-energy summer youth camp, and throughout the month they will have planned day trips and activities with their group. These opportunities are so amazing and to keep it that way, safety and security are also highly valued by ultimateXchange. Each group of Italian students will be accompanied by an Italian, bilingual adult leader and the American host family will have completed an application, background check, and home inspection.

If students choose to spend 6 months to a year in the United States, ultimateXchange offers a special study abroad opportunity through Concord Christian School (CCS), in the beautiful city of Knoxville, Tennessee!

Okay, so let’s say that you’re in the same boat as me, a university student, and are reading this with an interested mindset. Lucky for you, there is a university program. The university program, unlike others, is fully customizable and available to Italian university students all year round. Whether it be for two weeks or the max of three months, students get to spend their entire experience with an American host family, completely immersed in the American English language and culture.

Last but not least, there is an opportunity for adults who are young at heart and still want to engage themselves in a new language and culture. Just like the university program, you can choose to study from any time up to three months.

Wow, so that was a lot! But in other news, I’m so excited to be blogging for ultimateXchange and keeping everyone up-to-date on all the new programs, exciting news, and interesting topics of American life and culture! Stay informed through  www.ultimateXchange.com.


Esther :)

About the Author

Esther is a 20-year-old American from New York who lives and studies at college in the U.S. She is currently studying Linguistics and Spanish with a TESOL minor. In her free time she likes to volunteer by tutoring Spanish speaking people who want to learn English, go on spontaneous adventures, and involve herself in various college activities.

Outside her academic life, Esther blogs for ultimateXchange on topics related to the news and events of ultimateXchange and her own personal, adventurous life. Since traveling to Italy and meeting the founders of ultimateXchange, she has embraced her huge enthusiasm for studying abroad and experiencing different cultures through writing on the blog.

Follow Esther on Instagram @esther.louise to keep up with her crazy but adventurous college life.