By residing in another country, they can become fluent in a shorter period of time, as well as expand their perspectives and appreciation for people from different parts of the world.
Such experiences are invaluable in helping prepare students for living in a global society.
For many, they are life-changing. Woodinville High School sophomore Scott Morley hopes his upcoming year abroad will be just that, and more.
The teen is one of 250 students selected nationwide for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program and he will be heading to Germany come July.
Through this program, motivated high school students from the U.S. are given the opportunity to live with a host family and attend school for an academic year in Germany.
Since 1983, more than 17,000 students have been able to gain first-hand experience of German life, including family, school, culture, recreation and more.
Participants are regarded as youth ambassadors of the U.S. and share their life and culture with their German hosts, building greater understanding of America and its diversity. Morley, who has been studying German for the past two years, applied to the program as a ninth grader and made it to the semi-finalist level.
"I applied again this year because I just really wanted to do it," he explains. "I’m very interested in everything German and I see this as a great opportunity to learn more about the culture, while also improving my language skills."
The teen will be based in Aachen, Germany, a sizable city near the Belgium/Netherlands border. He will be living with the Sträter family, who he knows consists of mom, dad and two boys, ages 11 and 14.
"I got a letter from them," he comments. "The kids like soccer and swimming and the parents enjoy cooking and family activities. They live in the suburbs."
Morley is particularly excited about Aachen, as it has one of the top engineering schools in Germany.
"I plan to study engineering in college, hopefully at M.I.T., Cal Tech or UW," he adds, "so this is a bonus."
While abroad, the teen will attend a German high school, where all of his classes will be conducted in German.
To prepare him for the experience, he will attend an orientation program in Washington, D.C., that will introduce him to German customs, followed by a month-long language immersion camp.
As part of the program, Congress-Bundestag scholars meet with German government officials and tour various cities around the country.
High on Morley’s list to visit are the cities of Berlin and Stuttgart, as well as the Bavarian Alps.
The poised and self-assured teen doesn’t think he will pine for his family or friends while he is away.
"I know I’ll miss people," he admits, "but they’ll still be here when I return."
In the meantime, Morley plans to enjoy everything about his upcoming experience.
He adds, "I’m not afraid of trying new things and I look forward to meeting new people, seeing new places and making new friends. I think it’s going to be a great year."