Should I Participate in an Exchange Program?

I’ve been back in Hungary for 2 weeks and I kind of had time to think through this whole year. I asked several questions from myself and one was, “Was this year worth it?” It’s a question which seems easy to answer but after doing a little deep thinking I came up with an in depth review of my year studying in California.

If you and your family are considering in applying for an exchange program but don’t know wether it’s worth it or not, well here is my opinion after completing a high school year in Los Angeles.

This year definitely changed me in many ways. The fact that I was away from my family was sometimes hard but in an exchange program it’s good, because it makes you responsible. Before I had gone to Los Angeles my parents always did everything for me. They made food for me, they drove me everywhere, and they also helped with all my problems. In LA I was living with a host family but honestly they didn’t really care about me. I was pretty much on my own and I had to learn how to be responsible. Being more responsible made me feel really proud of myself and I felt like i’m an adult, it was awesome!

Gaining responsibility was one of the most useful things however I also changed in many other ways. American, or Californian culture to be more specific is very different than in my country Hungary. Everything is more laid back, people are really nice to each other, easy going and funny. In Hungary everything is pretty much the opposite. People are rude to each other, always depressed, and they want bad for other people. I realized this when I came back. It’s really sad but it made me feel disappointed in my country. I also feel like I assimilated with the culture in California and i’m different from other people in Hungary which in my opinion is amazing because i’m able to think differently from other people.

My favorite thing from this year was the adventures. Los Angeles is such an interesting city and it seems like it’s full with surprises and adventures. Getting the full high school experience included parties as well which I had only seen in movies before. I made so many friends it’s unreal. I didn’t have a driving license so I could have a car which made me take the bus everywhere. Looking back to it, it wasn’t a bad thing because I was able to explore the city.

My host parents didn’t restrict me from going out so I felt free. It was a wonderful feeling. I could go anywhere with anyone at any time. It felt like I’m finally living life.

If you have the chance to participate in an exchange program but you don’t know if you should go, I really encourage you to go. It doesn’t matter what city or country you go to, it will be a lot of fun. Not a lot of people can allow themselves to send their children to a program like this so you should appreciate this great opportunity and take it.

I had couple friends who didn’t want to go but their parents sent them. They actually ended up leaving the program in couple months. If this is the case with you my advice is be open for new things and view this as a gift. It’s an opportunity in your life that you will never have again.

If you have any other questions about my experience you can leave a comment and I will be happy to answer. Also if you want me to write a blog post about a specific topic I will be happy to do that as well.

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End of the Exchange Program

The exchange program ended a week ago and I’m already home in Hungary. I’ve been here for 1 week so far and it was just great seeing everyone again.

Coming back to Hungary was a really interesting experience for me because I was really confused. I was having a great time in LA and I would have definitely stayed longer, however I already missed my family and Hungary too. So it was a really weird feeling that it didn’t matter that I was going home.

To be honest I kind of already miss LA and all the things I’ve done there. I was expecting to be able to relax a lot when I come home but I turned out I have a lot of things to do. I’m really busy and I didn’t have a lot of time to do fun stuff.

I’ve made a big decision and I decided to stay in Hungary for my senior year in High School. I would really like to attend an American school in Hungary but the only problem is that it’s really hard to get in for senior year. I already went and wrote the test to apply and I hope for the best.

The reason why I decided to stay in Hungary is because I’m going to university in America anyways and I’m not going to see my parents for a long time. I feel like this is my last opportunity to spend 1 more year with my family before I move on the university.

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Findig a School For Next Year

It has already been 5 weeks since the second semester of school started and now it’s the time for me to look for a private high school where I can go next year to finish my high school studies.

Unfortunately things have changed and become more complicated. My parents in Hungary made research and they found out if I would like to go to an Ivy League College it doesn’t matter what private high school I go to. In order to get into one of the best universities, the high school where you graduate has to have really good connections so they can help you get in to your preferred college. Unfortunately not every high school has these connections so it doesn’t matter where you go. In Los Angeles there are about 3 private high schools where they have these type of connections. Obviously these high schools will be the most elite, hard and expensive ones.

I planned going to a normal private high school but now my parents said I can’t. There is an american private high school in Hungary where they have quite good connections with american universities and many people continue their studies in the US after graduating from there. It’s actually a really good school but in order for me to stay another year in the US we have to find a better school from that.

Finding an elite private high school is actually harder than I thought because many schools don’t accept new students in 12th grade. So now my parents and I are trying to find a school where I could graduate from and get into a good university. If there are no high schools like that in LA, I might move to a different city or even a state or I might go back to Hungary.

I honestly really hope that we will be successful finding a new school for me because I love staying in LA even though not everything is perfect and I miss my parents. So if you know any elite private high schools in LA or somewhere else, please let me know. Thank you.

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Christmas with My Family

My christmas celebration was really amazing. It was very different than usual because I hadn’t seen my family for 5 months. It was great seeing my grandparents, cousins and everyone.

Our lunch was different this time because my birthday was in December 2nd and since we couldn’t meet we celebrated my birthday now. I had a cake and everything. It was really good I had a great time talking with my family. They asked lots of questions about California and my school and I was happy to tell stories.

Throughout this 5 months I learned that family is the most important thing in the world. You don’t appreciate something that you have had all your life but it just seems normal. My family was not with me in California so I have a completely different view now.  I didn’t ask for any presents, all I wanted is just to be with my family and that was the best thing that I could get.

christmas

I hope everyone had a great christmas but it has just passed so quickly. It’s my favorite 2 days of the year and i’m always a little sad at the end.

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Why American Education is Better than European

The United States is well known for it’s great universities. The best universities of the world are in America. But what about high schools and education in general?

I’ve been studying in California for almost 4 months now. I already got used to the system,  so now i’m able to compare it to education in Europe. Most of the countries in Europe has a similar system except few countries like the UK and Spain.  The system that we have in Hungary and what most European countries have is completely different than in the US.

Fist of all, there is a huge difference between the number of classes. In Hungary, high school is 4 years (same as in America), but throughout the 4 years you must take the same classes. For example you will have 4 years of History, Mathematics, Hungarian Language, English, PE… So in total you take about 15 classes each year. Your schedule changes every day and you have from 5 to 7 classes a day. In America you have to take 6 classes each day for a year and you have the same classes every day. Also you can choose what kind of classes you take whereas in Hungary you have absolutely no ability to customise your schedule. They just give you a schedule and that’s it.

Another different thing is the classes you can take. In America you have a bunch of options. You can take electives like photography, film making, business, architecture and a lot more. You can take art classes like drawing, choir and theatre. There are several science classes and of course regular classes too. If you are into sports you can take a sport as your 6th period. In Hungary you don’t have these options. We don’t have sports in the schools, just a PE class. We don’t really have electives either. I think it’s a great thing that students in America have the option to try out a variety of things throughout their high school studies because this is how they will know what they want to do later in their life. In Hungary most seniors have no idea what they will do and what they want to be. Surprisingly here in America when I asked people about what they want to do, everyone could give me an answer. The sad thing is that i’m not sure what I want to do and this is the proof that the americans are more prepared.

Finally the graduation process is two different worlds. In America you have to collect credits. To be more specific 220 credits which are divided into sections. Here is a table which shows how many credits you have to collect for each class.

English 40 credits
Mathematics 30 credits (40 for UC and CSU)
Social Science 30 credits
Science 20 credits
World Language/Fine Arts 10 credits (30 for UC and CSU)
Visual and Performing Arts 10 credits
Physical Education/Health 20 credits
Electives 60 credits

So you earn 5 credits every semester in each class. Another thing you have to pass is the CAHSEE exam,. It’s the California High School Exit Exam. It consists of 2 sections, the Mathematics and the English. It’s only in California but in different states i’m sure they have different tests. You also need 60 hours of community or volunteer service. That’s all, it’s not hard. I actually took the CAHSEE this week and it was pretty easy even for me and don’t forget that English is not my first language. Graduating in Hungary and most European countries are really hard. You need to  take a huge test in your senior year basically covering all the topics you have covered in the past 4 years. It’s not hard to pass it, but if you want to get a good score then it’s crazy hard.

My opinion is that the American education system is a lot better and more useful. It prepares you a lot better for life and college too. You get to take part in lots of events and you will live a more interesting life. The thing most americans don’t realize is that they live in like the best part of the world. They want to move to Europe but what they don’t know is that America’s education is one of the best. At least it’s better than European. Education in Asia is a different story and i’m not going to go in that but i’ve heard about it from my Asian friends.

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Halloween Trick or Treating for First Time

Halloween is a huge celebration in America and really amazing how american people take it so seriously. A lot of houses are decorated, people are dressed up, overall it’s a great atmosphere. Since we don’t celebrate halloween in Europe, this was my first halloween in my life.

Trick or Treating is a really old tradition and I really wanted to try it, so my friend and I went to Burbank to a neighbourhood. Most of the houses were decorated and the streets looked really beautiful. There were thousands of people dressed up, walking around and going in houses to get candy. One thing that I found interesting was that actually you didn’t knock on the door because people were standing in front of the houses giving candy to everyone.

I’m really glad that I decided to go trick or treating because it’s something I had always wanted to do. If you don’t celebrate halloween in your country and you are in america on halloween, I really courage trying trick or treating because it’s really fun and an experience you will never forget.

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Field Trip to Newport Beach

Last Saturday there was the first field trip for the exchange students. It was to the Newport Beach and we also stopped to visit UC Irvine on the way. It was an unforgettable trip for me for several reasons which i’m about to share with you.

So one of my dream came true on this field trip because we actually went with a real american yellow school bus. It was just like in the movies and it was amazing how one of my childhood dreams came true, going with an american school bus. Of course I was sitting in the back with my friends because the cool kid sit in the back. 🙂 The trip there was around 2.5 hours but it actually passed really quickly.

On the way we stopped at UC Irvine. We walked around the campus and a student who graduated from my high school and now goes there showed us around. It was my first time being in a university and all I can say it was a beautiful campus, they even had a starbucks. After Uc Irvine we continued our trip to Newport Beach.

Newport Beach is a completely different area than the Valley (where I live) and it really felt like a whole new different world. There were lots of palm trees, the beach and pretty beach houses. It’s a different type of lifestyle because I’m always busy, i’m going somewhere all the time but there it’s all about relaxing.

We spent most of the time at the port area and that’s were we had lunch. It was a really nice port with really cool things. There was even a ferris wheel at the port and we went on it several times. One thing I also enjoyed was the arcade where we could play games and win tickets.

Newport Port
Newport Port

I went on the beach too with my group of friends but unfortunately we couldn’t go in the ocean. It was still great walking on the beach. One thing I noticed that the water was beautiful, it was so clean compared to Santa Monica, where it’s a lot dirtier.

Newport Beach
Newport Beach

Overall it was an amazing day, it was great to spend time with the other exchange students because in school most of the time I’m with my american friends. It was also really nice seeing the beach because for me it’s hard to get to the beach, since I don’t have a car yet. I hope there will be more field trips like this in the future.

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