Wry Exchange

Travel Day
08-06-07, 12:55 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , ,

Whether your child is coming or going as an exchange student, this advice is the same.  At least a half dozen of our Inbounds and Outbounds had airline problems this Summer.  The kids had lost luggage, delayed and cancelled flights, overnight hotel stays, and nights spend on the airport floor.  It’s not as bad when the kids are bilingual and confident, but now?  Heaven help them.

  • Have the student put his name and going-to address on small slips of paper inside all bags.  Don’t rely on one luggage tag on the outside.  We had a girl lose a bag on her way to Slovakia two years ago, and it never showed up.
  •  Take photos of the luggage with the student’s cellphone or digital camera.  The student will be stressed, and it’s much easier to show the airline employee a photo.
  • Both real and host parents should have copies of the passport and visa on their computers.
  • Some students will travel as unaccompanied minors.  The service costs extra, and you can’t make substitutions on who is meeting the student.
  • If you are picking up a student, try to obtain a gate pass so you can meet your student as she comes off the plane.  Most airlines will give you one especially if you mention the student doesn’t speak English.
  • Make certain your student has phone numbers, and knows how to dial.   If your student is coming to the states, you may wish to send him a phone card via email.  Type clear directions on usage.  Let the student know it’s ok to call at any time.  Your student should call when she arrives in country, and again when at the host family’s home.
  • Track flights via the airline websites or flightarrivals.com

You’ll be able to recognize your new foreign exchange student.  He or she will probably be with one or 2 other FES’s.  Husband and I can spot them easily.  (I’ve missed one student in almost 20 years, my son Cle.)  Typically, they’ll have a jacket, backpack, or t-shirt with a country flag.  They look overwhelmed.

They’ll try to make a good impression, but will probably be stinky, tired, and hungover.  They all have huge going away parties, and don’t sleep the last few nights before they leave home.  The US drinking age is much higher than in other countries.  Many students start drinking at 14 or 16, generally responsibly.   


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