I am living in Utah right now, a freshman in high school. i am wanting to do the foreign exchange my junior year, but am wanting to possibly plan ahead as to where i would like to go so i can save my money for it. We will be hosting a girl from germany this year so my parents can get a feel of what it can be like. My parents would like me to go to Italy, germany, or australia and i have been thinking of those places as well. Only problem is, my parents would only let me go if i can stay with another family with my same religious views, just so things don't get super complicated. Are there organizations that will let you stay with a family of the same religion? also, what are some places you think would be a great place to go for foreign exchange? thanks :)
Answer on Foreign exchange to ?
Religion is a rather sticky subject, especially when it comes to hosting or being an exchange student. I would suggest first checking with your Church or other religious institution. They may have some recommendations. At the very least, they may have some data regarding number of people who share the same beliefs in various countries. You could use this as a guide when talking to exchange organizations. An exchange organization will try their best to match you with a host family that shares your interests, and religious beliefs can be a large part of that. The really important thing will be to stress what is most important to you. If you will not live with a family who does not share your beliefs, you may have a hard time finding a family. However, if you will live with a family whose beliefs are not exactly the same, but will allow you to practice your beliefs, you will have more luck. Remember, your family can not try to convert you NOR can you try to convert your family. You both must be respectful of each others religious views, even more so than you must be respectful of each others political views. If it's important to you that you attend Church X number of times per week, put that on your application. If it's important to you that your host family also attend, put that on your application.
With respect to places to go, that's a highly individualized question. A big part of the consideration should be what (if any) foreign language you know. While many programs do not require previous foreign language study, it is helpful. Questions you should ask yourself: What language would you like to learn? What type of culture do you like? What do you want to get out of your time abroad? What climate/geographical features (mountains, etc.) are important to you? Unfortunately, without knowing you, it's hard to give you advice. Talk to you parents, teachers, and those who know you.
Hope this helps!