Studying In Another Country

Foreign Exchange Students Give Their Two Cents


Sakib Asraf

Franz Tiefenbacher ’21 is an exchange student from Germany

Sakib Asraf, Photo Editor

Every year, foreign exchange students from a variety of different countries come to CRLS. Some are brought here alone by foreign exchange programs, while others come to the city due to parents’ jobs or affiliations with Cambridge’s various universities.

However, CRLS does not have an official foreign exchange program. An article in the special consideration section of the Student Registration Center’s webpage on the CPSD website explicitly states that, although CRLS doesn’t have an official foreign exchange program, the school welcomes students wishing to study abroad at the school. Therefore, foreign exchange students must find living accommodations and host families on their own.

Many CRLS students also claimed that they would seriously consider participating in an exchange program themselves, assuming that cost isn’t a factor. Senior Alexander Baptista stated, “I’ve traveled to Taiwan a lot, but I’d really like to experience living and studying there on a day-to-day basis.”

When asked about their experience living in Cambridge, most foreign exchange students considered it a positive one, and an opportunity to interact with a diverse array of people from cultures very different from their own. Senior Marte Stromsnes, who’s visiting Cambridge for the year while her mother studies at Harvard, stated, “Here, it’s a lot more multicultural. In Norway, it’s not at all. People are seriously the same; no one has a different culture.”

Stromsnes also mentioned that living in Cambridge changed her own perception of America as a whole. In an interview, she stated that outside of the US, there’s a stereotype that Americans aren’t very intelligent. However, during her time at CRLS, she’s realized that American students are a lot more driven and focused in school than she had anticipated.

“Here, it’s a lot more multicultural. In Norway, it’s not at all. People are seriously the same.””

— Marta Stromnes '19

On a side note, foreign exchange can be a method to learn more about one’s own culture as well. Senior Anas Shaikh, who just returned from spending a month in India, considers his time spent there to be a chance to connect with his own cultural roots. “I [wasn’t] going to school here or anything, but it’s nice to learn more about India and my own culture,” he says. Although not participating in a foreign exchange program, Shaikh mentioned that going to school in India would be a way to further immerse himself in the culture.

However, sophomore Franz Tiefenbacher, who is an exchange student from Germany, felt that his life in Cambridge shared many similarities to his life in Germany. When interviewed, he stated, “It’s not that different—especially not here. I think in other places in the US, it would be much more different, but here in Cambridge it’s very similar.” Tiefenbacher indicated that the people, the schooling, and the environment felt very similar to that of Germany, with his main distinction being that American students seemed much more focused on sports and extracurriculars than their German counterparts.

Senior Will Parmen, who is currently hosting Tiefenbacher, explained, “It’s just so easy to be a host family.” According to Parmen, there is a multitude of organizations a family interested in becoming a host family can use.

With regard to his own experience, he recounted, “There’s a couple of meetings that you have to go to, then prove that your house and home is capable of hosting another person. And, in addition to that, the [exchange student’s] family has to come and check out your home and see the environment.”

Students interested in participating in an exchange program can visit the US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Program website, where more information about these programs, along with applications and deadlines, can be found.


This piece appears in our April 2019 print edition.