School trips and exchange visits

Your school may offer you the chance to go on a residential trip to a foreign country and/or an exchange visit.

Residential School trips

These involve travelling in a group from your school, under the supervision of teachers.There are advantages and disadvantages of travelling in this way. Advantages include:

  • the security of being with people you know
  • the security of knowing that the trip is safe and properly organised
  • the chance to travel somewhere that you might not otherwise visit

The disadvantages include:

  • the lack of opportunity to engage directly with people abroad; you will generally stick to your group of friends
  • the lack of freedom to do your own thing and experience a new place in your own way
  • the cost (school trips are not always cheap, and can sometimes be very expensive)

Think carefully before agreeing to go on a school trip, even if your parents/carers can afford it:

  • Some places might be more fun to explore on your own, or with your own group of friends, when you’re older
  • Think whether the trip involves an experience you wouldn’t otherwise have, goes to a place you wouldn’t otherwise go,  and/or makes the most of travelling in a group – such as a trip with your school choir or sports team

Exchange visits

These involve you staying at the home of someone, roughly your own age, in a foreign country for a certain number of days; they spend the same time staying in your home. School exchange visits normally involve a mixture of activities organised through the partner schools and time spent with your host family. You will normally have to pay only your travel costs and any administrative costs.

Advantages of exchange visits:

  • You have a direct experience of life in another country
  • You develop your character, confidence and life experiences by spending time away from your friends and family
  • In non English-speaking countries, you get the chance to practise your foreign languages
  • They are normally cheaper than school residential trips

Disadvantages of exchange visits:

  • You may or may not get on with your exchange partner
  • You may find the experience of being in a strange family and a new country too much
  • Your family will have to return the favour

Exchange visits can be very valuable learning experiences, even if you don’t like your exchange partner or feel homesick; but they do require your family to be involved as well as yourself, so you need to have a proper discussion with them.