AFS Exchange Programme
AFS Intercultural Exchanges is an international and non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help students develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. Our students are provided with different exchange opportunities by participating in the organization’s one-year or summer programme, regarding the learning of languages and pursuing further study. The school also promotes the exchange of knowledge between our students and students from other countries by hosting AFS exchange students. The exchange student programme helps to facilitate the connection of lives, sharing of experiences and forging of global lifelong friendship.
Incoming Exchange Students
Sara Maria – AFS Exchange Student from Italy (2019-2020)
Hello, my name is Sara Maria. I was born in Sicily, Italy. There are 5 people in my family. They are my parents, my elder sister, elder brother and me. My father is a businessman and he runs a farm holiday cottage that serves tourists from all over the world. Influenced by my father, I am also fond of meeting people and interacting with them.
My hobbies are cross fit training and playing volleyball. Every single afternoon on weekdays, I go to a gym room to practise cross-fit. I love this sport because it gets me overcome all difficulties to achieve my goals that I consider unattainable. I understand the only rule to succeed is to keep trying and not giving up!
Knowing that I love sports, many teachers and schoolmates approached me and asked me to join different sports teams, including indoor rowing, basketball and volleyball teams. I did not play so well at the start but the other team members showed me a lot of support and gave me opportunities to develop. After a long practice, I have finally attained more satisfactory performance in these teams.
I would try my best to solve any difficulties I face in this exchange year. I believe that my exchange experience is the one that I will definitely treasure forever.
Jannes Burch - AFS Exchange Student from Switzerland (2018-2019)
I'm Jannes Burch, the Swiss exchange student in CCSC in the year 2018-2019.
I come from the middle of Switzerland, which is a very quiet town near the Alps, forming a big contrast to the busy city life in Hong Kong. My hobbies are playing football, hiking, scouting and sports in general. I come from a rather big family with six heads − my parents, my three little siblings and me.
I decided to take part in this exchange programme because I have a passion for discovering new places, experiences and for learning. I chose Hong Kong as my destination because it's a melting point of many cultures and traditions. It is very interesting to observe the differences in behaviour between local Chinese and Europeans. Furthermore, I am quite interested in this place’s history. I expect to fill my year here with as many adventures and experiences as possible.
My first impression of CCSC is very positive. From the first day I came to this school I was very impressed. The conception of school here seems very different to what I know from my home school. Students here are a family who work together, assisting each other to succeed. I am also impressed by the extremely high working incentive and diligence of the teachers and other staff, even out of their working hours. Some students are so bright that I cannot help but feel good when I am with them. My classmates and teachers have been integrating me with them as much as possible. I feel so lucky to be an exchange student in CCSC. I truly appreciate all the people who support me. I will do my best and enjoy the rest of my stay in such a great school.
October 17, 2018
Nicolo Galli – AFS Exchange Student from Italy (2017-2018)
Hello everyone! My name is Nicolò Galli and I am now 16 years old. I come from the city of Trecastelli in Italy.
What do you know about me? I am a cheerful guy, who likes to make friends with different people. I am a boy who is enthusiastic about the things I do, in school, in sports, in housework and my passions.
My greatest passion is playing basketball, which is the sport that I have been practising since I was 5. I have learnt a lot from this sport. I realize that being a good team member is learning how to understand my personal strengths and where I might need to draw assistance from others. This attitude is what I bring to my life as a student in Cheung Chuk Shan College.
It is lucky that I have been assigned to class 4D, where my students and my teachers take very good care of me. My classmates and I took part in an exchange programme to Shanghai, where they taught me a lot about Chinese culture and beliefs. My favorite time of the school day is lunchtime, in which I would go out for lunch with my best friends. I treasure the time when I eat the HK-style Yunnan spicy noodles, as they are not available in my hometown!
I am a member of the school A-grade basketball team and I suit up myself twice a week for practice. In May, our team participated in a meaningful basketball exchange programme in Macau, with cultural exchange, excursions and friendly matches with the basketball teams of two local schools. We interacted closely with the players of the Macau teams and I really got new insights about basketball from them. I believe that the close ties developed between us would last forever.
Battezzato Danilo – AFS Exchange Student from Italy (2016-2017)
It’s Danilo here, your exchange student.
I crossed the gate of this school for the first time five months ago already, and I have experienced great fun so far. I’ve pleasantly discovered that, besides sharing this great culture based on hands-on learning and seriousness in working, Hong Kong schools give students lots of opportunities to socialise and carry out extra-curricular activities, to the point that students also value their belonging to their schools. Even teachers here are like working round the clock: their friendliness and willingness to help students out of their working hours is extraordinary, and unfortunately we Italians don’t share the practice.
Unavoidably, my life has changed a lot, yet in a way I couldn’t be more satisfied with- getting out of my comfort zone, moving to a vibrant city on the other side of the world, uprooting my inherent beliefs and giving me a brand new outlook on life.
I am now beginning to consider this place as something really close to my home, and I can notice that through a lot of uncomfortable situations that I used to be in during the very first period. I don’t ask for directions anymore when I go out. I no longer stare at every skyscraper out there and, funnily, I can’t think of a life without the crowds of almond-eyed people around.
The most interesting part of the new life is discovering new habits and making them yours as well. Making tea every afternoon, using chopsticks, going ‘yum cha’ on Sunday, visiting temples or hiking almost every weekend: these are all things I didn’t quite acknowledge just some months ago but I can’t live without now.
Also, I’ve found that Hong Kong carries a diversity few other places on Earth can boast. What makes it so special is the unique blend of different cultures it adds to its Chinese roots. People from all over the world are mixed and well integrated. Coming from a small town in a rural area of Italy, I would never have thought of making friends from twenty different nations altogether and learning so many things about their lives at the same time.
Looking back on all the worries and the expectations that accompanied me at the beginning of this great journey, a huge smile cuts my face in half. Needless to say, I have faced loads of difficulties every day, but the whole thing is worth the trouble. In such a short time, I got occasions no other place could have given me: enjoying the view from the roof of a skyscraper, having a speech in front of a big audience, freaking at my favourite band's concert, writing my first paragraph in elementary Chinese. All these little moments, together with the homesickness and all the troubles I've been coping with for five months, have indelibly marked my experience and my life.
August Ahlmann Andersen – AFS Exchange Student from Denmark (2015-2016)
8 July 2016- On the Italian highway at the Austrian border, it’s been two weeks since I left Hong Kong and I’m now so far away from the city that I stayed for 10 months before.
The experience in Hong Kong has brought deep feelings to me. Once you become an exchange student you will leave a whole life, family, friends, city, country and identity. But as you embark on the adventure, you will lose a part of yourself. You will stumble, having to reinvent the pure definition of what previously defined you. And only by letting go all your pre-consumptions and cultural behavior, can you adapt to a new culture, and life.
For me coming to Hong Kong was a total opposite of all I’ve ever learned and known. The cultural preferences are different- different school system and different languages. We drive on the left side of the road and have skyscrapers literally touching the sky, and a history dating back thousands and thousands of years. Hong Kong is an ultimate cocktail, east and west perfectly blending together, creating the only known metropolis present in today’s world. As my Form teacher Miss Yip once said to me, “Hong Kong is the Pearl of the Orient.” - I think this is what makes Hong Kong so special for me. Here it is an art form walking on the street, and the cultural etiquette profoundly shapes local people as expatriates.
So when I look back on my time in Hong Kong I’m not sad about leaving all the things I loved. But I was happy to have the chance to walk with the dragons and tigers of Hong Kong. Talking with its people, eating the local food and having a family on the other side of the world are all the things you won’t normally experience by just having a layover in the city.
So as I’m writing now, my Danish family and I are on the way to Rome in Italy. I’ve been home for two weeks, and the Australian family have visited us. I’m steadily getting used to speaking Danish again, and driving on the left side of the road. One of the fascinations about living in Europe is how easy it is to get from one country to another. This summer I will visit Germany, Austria, Italy, Norway, Sweden and perhaps some others with my friends. So even if Hong Kong is far away, I’m sure I will return one day, either on vacation or as resident.
AFS One-Year Exchange
Victor Ling - AFS One-Year Exchange in Austria (2020-2021)
During my exchange in Austria, I lived in a town called Alland. Although the town is quite small, it is very beautiful and nice as it is surrounded by nature. There are large areas of green everywhere. When I arrived here, autumn had already come. Hence, most of the trees turned from green to red, orange and yellow, which was fascinating. I could still remember the hill at the back of my house covered with red. Also, the air was so fresh, and the tap water was drinkable. Austria is one of the countries having the cleanest water supply in the world. Therefore, I was very glad that I could spend my time here and I was excited about the things I experienced.
The house I lived in was very nice. I had my own room. From the window of my room, I could see the garden and a small swimming pool at the back of my house. I would go out to relax in the garden when the weather was warm.
My host family was very friendly and hospitable. I lived with my host dad, host mom and host sister. There was also another guy living in the house. He was travelling around the world, and he helped with the housework in exchange for free food and accommodation. Apart from that, we also had a dog and a cat living in the house. Therefore, the house was always full of people, noise and fun.
I had a lot of good time with my host family. The day after I arrived, I was invited to my host sister’s birthday party. Her birthday was just a few days before I arrived. The party took place in a stable. So first, we cleaned some real horses. It was my first time to be able to be this close to a horse in real life, so it is a very special experience for me. Then we gathered to enjoy the birthday cake and played around in the stable with the horses. I had a really good time. Then we went back to the house where we made pizzas together and played with a piñata. Piñata is a decorated container filled with candies and it is usually taken out on birthdays. People use a stick to break the piñata so that candies come out. It was really fun.
Then, I went up to the hill behind our house. It was quite challenging for me, because there was no actual path and it was quite steep, so it was a little bit dangerous. However, the view on top was spectacular and it was pretty worthy to me. At night, we went to an Asian restaurant in Vienna for dinner. We had sushi and sashimi. Although they didn’t taste that good, I did enjoy them as they reminded me of home.
Another unforgettable memory was the ‘trick or treat’ during Halloween. On the last day of October, we first tried to crave some pumpkins. I had never tried this before, so I took more time than the others did. But I think the result was not bad and I was satisfied. Then we went to a Halloween party. I dressed up as a skeleton and we all went to play ‘trick or treat’. We went to another neighborhood where there were more children living. It turned out the people in this neighborhood were super friendly. The amount of sweets we received could fill up two big bowls. It was also my first time celebrating Halloween, so I enjoyed it very much.
Despite the happy memories I had in Austria, the coronavirus situation was quite worrying at that time. There were thousands of new cases every day. The Austrian government introduced some policies to cope with the situation. Students of 9th grade or above were not allowed to go to school and home-schooling was in practice. A night curfew was also implemented - we were not allowed to leave home from 8pm to 6am. To make my time at home more meaningful, I started to learn German on my own. I also spent more time to communicate with my host family, as well as looked after the dog and the cat.
Apart from the COVID-19, there was also a terrorist attack in Vienna, which killed some people. Luckily, my host family and I stayed at home, so everyone was safe.
The pandemic and terrorist attack made me realize that nothing is more important than our health, and well-being of our family and ourselves. Therefore, we should treasure our health and the company of our family members. Lastly, may I wish everyone good health and happiness.
Emmanuel Ng - AFS One-Year Exchange in Italy (2019-2020)
I joined the exchange program held by AFS in Italy for a year. I lived with an Italian family, studying at Liceo Classico, a local traditional high school. The subjects I took were Italian, Mathematics, English, Latin, Greek, History, Literature, Archaeology, Science and Religion. Different from the whole-day school timetable in Hong Kong, I attended half-day lessons from Monday to Saturday in Italy.
I enjoyed more freedom at Liceo Classico compared to my school life in Hong Kong. I didn’t have to wear school uniforms in Italy. And I could wear make-up and have curly hair. The only special requirement was that students must wear long pants. Apart from school uniform, students were allowed to use smartphones at school. Regarding school assessment, there was no test or examination. All the examinations were carried out orally in class and there were no written exams because the Italian education system upholds that the answers students write may not be what they think.
I did not live in a famous city, but a small town called San Gavino Monreale on an island, Sardegna. I lived with my host family. There were my host dad, host mum, host brother and two host sisters. My host family cherishes family relationship a lot. We talked about everything we did in the day during dinner every day. The youngsters in Italy always go out to meet friends, go to bars and chat with others in the town at night. In festivals, we held parties with all our friends and relatives. Once I had a birthday party with my host brother, his friends and family. We had dinner, and sang and danced till 3am the next day.
Not only did I enjoy the school life and time spent with my host family, but also the nature. There were not any skyscrapers in San Gavino Monreale. All I could find was nature. Trees, grass and wildlife like horses and sheep were everywhere. One of my favorite moments on Sardegna was nighttime. There weren’t any streetlights on the roads. All I could see is a night sky of twinkling stars.
To conclude, I learnt and discovered a lot of new things in Italy and I could proudly say that Italy is my second home now.
Yvette Ng - AFS One-Year Exchange in Plano, the United States (2018-2019)
I cannot believe the alarm of leaving is ringing. It feels like it was only yesterday that I reached this green plain with short buildings called Plano, Texas. It feels like I have part of me on this land today. I could not imagine the power of being an exchange student until I am going back home with tons of memories and lot of stories to share.
I am very delighted to have experienced America’s treasured holidays and traditions with my host family! We used to watch the televised Macy’s (department store chain) Thanksgiving Day Parade together and prepare the Thanksgiving feast which included turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, squash, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole! Soon, we had “Secret Santa” for the custom of giving and receiving presents. We left the present under the Christmas tree for the person we had drawn earlier. My host sisters and I also followed the tradition of making a gingerbread house with icing and leaving out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk as a snack for “Santa Claus” on Christmas Eve. More importantly, we all stayed at home to enjoy our Christmas dinner together.
I took part in the varsity swimming team and philharmonic orchestra in school. Varsity swimming team held a lot of team activities such as team bonding days, carbohydrate loading and holiday parties. Off-season training eliminates weight lifting, stretching, study hall, etc, but adding water polo along with swimming and dryland. The philharmonic orchestra performed in different concerts and participated in contests. We won the Sweepstakes Award. Our perseverance and hard work of the demanding sectionals and outside of school rehearsals paid off!
Exchange is not a year in my life, it is a life in a year. It is one of the best time in my life and something I will always cherish.
Hung Kai Yin - AFS One-Year Exchange Programme in Germany (2015-2016)
Germany is a lovely country, and you will definitely fall in love with the people, the food and the environment.
I stay in Berlin. It is a city of art, artists and museums!
I go to a local school, the Walther-Rathenau-Schule, and study with other German students. My classmates are friendly to me and always help me translate German into English. We need to attend German classes in which we work on grammar, punctuation and pronunciation. I hope that my German will continue to improve so that I will be able to understand more during the lessons and no longer need the translation support from my classmates.
Of course, no homestay experience is complete without a proper family. Although there are some miscommunications at times, I enjoy my family life because my host parents are both friendly and magnanimous. During the weekends, I usually have great time with them. We go cycling and picnicking, visiting relatives and sometimes staying at home playing board games. I have really established a good rapport with my host family and I feel so lucky to have these incredible people in my life.
It’s really excellent to have such a meaningful experience which brings me memories that I will never forget.
Leung Yan Yi - AFS One-Year Exchange Programme in America (2015-2016)
Hello to CCSCers, I am Tracy Leung. I would like to share with all of you the adventure I had in my exchange year in the United States.
To broaden my horizon, I took part in the AFS one-year exchange prgramme in Arizona, the United States. It turned out that the exchange experience was so valuable for my personal growth.
I was admitted to a high school studying Grade 11. An American High School is completely different with that in Hong Kong, in every aspect. English and Mathematics were the only two core classes I had to take. For other classes, I could freely choose elective courses I was interested in, from gardening to robotics. Class atmosphere was more casual, with lots of interaction among students. Moreover, there was no uniform for the students! I could dress whatever I wanted when attending lessons.
As an outgoing person, I could socialize with other classmates very well. My favourite subject was Social Science, which included topics of American history and politics. Active class participation and the critical mind of students were outstanding in this school. My classmates and I always worked in groups to do research and presentation on international political issues. Sometimes I felt shy when it came to public speaking, but with the support of my classmates, I could complete my task very without difficulties.
Being an exchange student was a life changing experience. Miles away from my family taught me to grow up. I became more mature and considerate after my exchange year. I would truly recommend all of you to join the exchange programme. I treasured every moment with my new friends, learning new things and being inspired. Joining this exchange programme was indeed a stimulus to me for enriching my life. This year was undoubtedly one of the best periods in my life.
Lee Lok Tin- AFS Summer Exchange Programme in Finland (2014-2015)
I spent an unforgettable summer in Espoo, Finland with a lot of amazing experiences.
I took part in a summer exchange programme organized by a local school. The class students were a mixture of several nationalities from all over the world, ranging from Italy, Germany, Denmark and Japan. This provided me with a perfect opportunity to meet friends with different cultures and share Chinese traditions and customs with them. Finnish education was really impressive. There were a lot of interesting discussions during our lessons and I had many chances to speak up in class.
I was lucky to stay with a host family, in which my host parents were very patient in teaching me Finnish and cooking delicious cuisines for me. I would never forget the good time we spent together.