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Exchange students

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive November 2006: Exchange students
By Colette on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 05:33 pm:

has anyone ever hosted or had their child be an exchange student? My oldest dd, wants to participate in this program next year - it will be the end of her junior year - and she wants to go to Germany (she's on her 4th year of German). I am nervous about it, but dh and dd are pretty excited. There is an informational meeting tomorrow night and I am trying to come up with a list of questions - any ideas? I will have to host a student in September for my dd to go in June. She can go from 1-3 weeks.

By Tink on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 06:36 pm:

We had students from Japan (2 boys, 3 girls), Germany (girl), Slovakia (boy), Brazil (3 boys) and Australia (girl) when I was younger. Some of them were just here for a week or two, most were here for a school year. My sister spent a semester in London last year as part of an exchange program and has visited our German student's and one of the Brazilian's families in their own country. I think it's a chance for an amazing experience and would wholeheartedly support my dks in participating when they get older.

By Pamt on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 07:59 pm:

I think it's an awesome opportunity! I wanted to be an exchange student, but never seriously pursued it. Actually in hindsight I would have rather spent a semester abroad in college.

We had an unofficial exchange student from Japan for a year. My hometown has a huge Sony plant and her dad worked there for several years in mgmt. He got transferred back to Japan, but it was her senior year in high school and she didn't want to leave her friends. My mom taught at her school and so we ended up letting her live with us for the year. It was mostly a good experience, but she about ate my parents out of house and home--LOL. She was also a classical pianist, so her grand piano moved in with her and she practiced several hours a day. It was lovely, but a pain when you were trying to watch TV or something. My parents also had to wrestle with letting her drive their car or not.

As for questions to ask:
1) I would want to know what she can do if she doesn't click with the family and she is just miserable. Can she switch or get her money back? (I'm talking more than homesick, but really odd or mean people). I actually just noticed that this was only 1-3 weeks versus a whole year, so that's not as crucial.
2) Will the host family be obligated to help her explore and learn about the country? What if they just hang out and watch TV all day? What is their responsibility to your DD?

Can't think of anymore, but I'll post back if I do.

By Jjb on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 08:37 pm:

I was an exchange student to Australia for 7 months. While growing up, my family hosted students from Australia, Spain, and Serbia. I found it to be an amazing experience, much more than I ever expected. I did have a rough time adjusting to life back in the US, but I was gone for 7 months and was 16. I also volunteered for the exchange organization for many years once I was older.

Questions I would ask are:
1. How long has the organization existed?
2. How are the families screened? If she does not get along in the family what are the steps involved to fix the problem or mover her to another family? Does the organization visit the host family’s home?
3. Will she know who the family is before she departs the US (some organizations ship the kids overseas and put them in temporary homes until a family is found- it's not as bad as it sounds, but is rough on the student and parents).
4. Do the families speak some English?
5. How thorough is the orientation before she leaves? Does it include German customs, stereotypes of American's, differences in etiquette and manners, etc.
6. What type of support will she have when she's in Germany? I had a sponsor who checked in with me every month or so which was helpful, especially in the early weeks.
7. Will there be more than one exchange student in the same family? If there is, it's easier on the students, but they'll miss out on the experience.

That's all I can think of. I've been fortunate to travel overseas as a teenager and through work and it's a fabulous experience. You rarely get the opportunity to really live in another culture. It taught me more about myself than I ever expected. I still keep in touch with several people I met while on my exchange. You’re a kind parent to consider giving her this opportunity.

By Colette on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 07:27 am:

Thanks! I'll be bringing some of these questions with me tonight!

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