Wry Exchange

Homesick, Depressed, or Bored?
09-27-07, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Exchange Students | Tags: , , , , ,

The students have been in their new countries, including the US, for 6-7 weeks now.  They are over the initial culture shock, and they are able to communicate in their new languages.  They should feel comfortable within their host families, and have new friends.   Everything should be wonderful.  This is supposed to be “The Best Year of Their Lives”  But sometimes, it’s not.
 It’s the second wave of culture shock.  Their lives have become routine.  What the students are doing now is what they’ll be doing for the next 8-11 months.  The realization that they are living in a family with rules, the family sometimes annoys them, school is boring, and their lives are almost what it would be if they didn’t go on exchange.  Except they’d be back home with their friends, families, and pets.
Solution?  Keep them busy!  The kids should have all sorts of activities going on.  They should be playing some type of sports, or getting exercise of some type daily.  The students should join clubs-Drama, Language, 4-H, Scouts, Chess, Swim team, etc.  Most of the kids should not come home from school and stay  all night.  (Sparky, P, and Cle were all content to stay home often, but they were happy.  They weren’t homesick or bored. Husband and I also didn’t expect them to be our little friends and stay to keep us company.  Some host families want to keep the students all to themselves. That’s not healthy for anyone.) They are exchange students to learn the culture of their country.   Let them visit with another exchange student, or invite one overnight.  The student should see his counselor regularly.  The exchange program should have activities at least once a month for the kids.  The host family should plan activities with the student; they don’t have to be expensive-go for a hike, go fishing,  or yard sale shopping.  Take the student to a football or volleyball game, and permit (shove) them to sit with friends and go out with the others after the game.   Take the student to help volunteer-She can coach younger kids, he can visit senior citizens.  Anything to take their minds off of themselves.


9 Comments so far
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I have tried all the things that yo mentionted about getting our ES involved at school and nothing she still comes home everyday and says school is boring , eats heads to her room sleeps a couple of hours and then out for more food and tv. Tried sports too much work , tried choir too much work , tried helping her make friends went to sleep when some kids came over to meet her .
I still have almost 7 months with her and I think I am going to loose my mind . She does nothing , says she has plans then stays home . I even took my daughter trick or treating last night she said she had plans with girls from school then when we cme home she was still here and had never left .
I just don’t get it her coordinator said she would come to talk to her because she has mentioned going home in December but I don’t think I can wait that long to get her out of my house . Any more ideas????

Comment by Liz

Hi. I’m sorry you aren’t having fun with your student. How old is she? Where is she from? What does the school say about her behavior? What do the other students at school think of her?

after school naps are typical in some parts of the world, she may have grown up taking daily naps. A good sign is she comes out to watch tv, and doesn’t stay in her room except for meals.

I’ve hosted kids who are slow to make friends. They don’t want to ‘hurt’ when they leave. They didn’t make friends and start going out until after Christmas, but they were happy homebodies. How’s her attitude? Is she friendly? respectful? engaged with you?

Why do you have 7 more months with her? “They” can’t make you keep her. If she’s not adding anything positive to your household, have her move. Sometimes, kids just shouldn’t be on exchange, and sometimes nice people just don’t click.

Why isn’t the counselor more involved?

Comment by Wry

I thought I would give an update on our ES I just recieved an e mail from her mom back in Germany and she is planning on returning home and the mom said she has already contacted the Greman office so now I am waiting on the American Office to give us some information . I talked with her coordinator about her going home and she told me that once the paper is signed it could be a matter of days not a month or so just days before she is returned home . I tald the mom the truth and talked with the ES about her not doing anything or having no interests and she cried and said she really wanted to go home , so I think it is all for the best . I am glad that the mom is allowing her to come home early as she is very sad . Thank you all for trying to help me with my ES .

Comment by Liz


Im on exchange at the moment in Denmark.
Ive been here 3months and sure it has been alot of fun but me and my Host mum don’t get on so well. I have another 2 months here but don’t think im going to last. Me & the family had a meeting tonight with the counsellor but it just went around in Circles its so stupid but ohwell.
I’ll look back at this and laugh. It’s just everyday seems to be going so sloww!!
Many thanks.


Comment by Andrew

Hi, Andrew. I tried to reply to you, but I guess your email address isn’t @fbi.gov. Try to change to a new host family. What program are you with? Have your counselor or coordinator back home get involved. How do you get long with hostdad? Can he talk with hostmom?

Comment by Wry

Hi! My daughter has been on exchange in France for about 3 1/2 months w/Rotary. She has finally admitted to being seriously homesick. I’ve been trying to encourage her to stay w/all of the above suggestions – joining clubs, keeping busy, etc. But it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t really know how much she’s trying. She’s probably doing what Liz’s ES is doing. She does spend some weekends in Paris when she gets a chance and has fun, but she is stressed about school. Since she is a senior, she is taking a correspondence course from here and is really behind. She says she wants to come home and concentrate on graduating and getting ready for college. Part of me really wants her to come home, but I feel I should encourage her to stay. I don’t know that much about her host family. She switches to a new one every 2 months or so. I’ve told her to go to them and her Rotary members over there to get help in keeping busy and involved, but they seem to agree that maybe she should return home. Maybe she’s not cut out to be there for that long. She said she is going to talk to her counselor in the next day or two. Do you have any thoughts?

Comment by Angela

I wish you were my area rep. Our student decided to leave a week before Christmas because we were too boring (we took her snorkeling in the Keys, to Disney, Seaworld, canoing, to the beach, etc…) and because we weren’t, “the typical American family,” she had seen on tv shows. We encouraged her to join after school clubs since we’re walking distance to the school. She didn’t want to. We’re right off the trail so she could jog or walk or bike. She never wanted to go. Our area coordinator was non existent and didn’t even meet our student until she had been here a month. The area rep always had her cell phone off and said her phone does not save messages when it’s off. She also never responded to email and at the one group meeting with the other host family, she claimed she never received them. It was truly a miserable experience because this girl went behind our backs and told her parents it was an emergency that she had to leave because she couldn’t take it anymore. Suddenly we went from what we thought was a good exchange experience to finding out that this girl hated being here because we weren’t like a tv family. She also told us that she liked us but wanted a host family that had a large extended family arriving for the holidays and our family was not like her family in Germany. Well duh, and if we had a halfway decent area rep this could have been solved or at least we wouldn’t have such hard feelings over the disruption to our holidays.

Comment by k

Im an exchange student in my second month of a year long exchange in Sweden.
i googled homesickness and look at this, a the second link site about homesickness for exchange students, and you even write about the 3 month slump, where you settle back into what seems to be inevitable, repetitive an boring day to day life. you nailed it with – “the family sometimes annoys them, school is boring, and their lives are almost what it would be if they didn’t go on exchange. Except they’d be back home with their friends, families, and pets.”
I actively hate my host parents, but luckily, because im with rotary ill switch in 4 months to a reallylovely host family. but for now im stuck with these people i hate, a mother who i think is kind on some levels but is rude, tactless, and controlling, and a father who creeps me out, and it super annoying. Ive realized that highschool is highschool everywhere, and the people are still 16-18 year olds, my town is small, people here are super shy and its hard to make friends, esp with the language boundary. Even if were easy, is super difficult too find people who really interests me.
but going home is not an option, and i know i need to stick it out, and it will improve, it has for everyone else and i am a social creature so i know i will make friends, but for now im incredibly lonely and im startíng to feel homesick. and i know that ill need to keep active to keep it at bay, but my school offers no clubs or extracurricular activities.
i guess i dont really have a straight question you could answer im just pretty desperate for something to make me feel less like how i feel right now.

Comment by Rose

Hi, Rose. Look under 9/18/08 for a response. You have your own post.

Comment by Wry

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