The foreign exchange student program affords American students an excellent opportunity to study abroard for up to a year. Traveling and studying overseas broadens your experience as well as your horizons by enhancing your world view and building confidence, leadership and resourcefulness. At one time, foreign exchange programs were based in the schools. Today exchange programs are a lucrative business run by a number of outfits.

Consider study abroad as a total immersion in the culture, language and customs of the host country. Cultivate and demonstrate a willingness to make new friends, try new foods and adapt quickly to totally new surroundings.

Check first with the guidance counselor about foreign exchange programs. Find out about the expense, eligibility requirements, length of stay and host countries. Ask to speak to students who have studied abroad as foreign exchange students.

Stick with programs that are tried and true and for which references are available. Work with programs that have experience placing fellow students and classmates.

Apply for consideration as a foreign exchange student. Enhance the application by indicating interest in hosting a student as well. Craft a thoughtful, well-executed essay. Provide all the necessary credential, references and recommendations.

Begin a correspondence with the host family as soon as the assignment is confirmed. Find out as much as possible about the host arrangements and plan accordingly.

Learn as much as possible about the host country. Focus on the location of the host family. Read about the history of the area, the culture, laws, food and arts. Find out about nearby museums and historical locations and what side trips might be possible.