Wry Exchange

Reverse Culture Shock, Part 3
05-22-08, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags:

 Host Parents should read the other parts of this series for general information, but should be aware of two difficult situations.  As always the advice is based on my personal experience as a hostmom, and as a longtime volunteer.  It doesn’t mean every student will behave like this. 

Before the student returns home-Your sweet, loving FES will turn into a disagreeable brat.   Think bipolar, PMS mood swings!  Generally, the kids will start picking fights with you, friends, and gf/bf if they have one.  They don’t do it on purpose, and most don’t do it consciously.  I think it’s self-protection; ‘if I don’t care about these people, it won’t hurt so much when I leave.’  Be patient, and talk it out.

If you consider your student real family, and you all love each other, you are afraid ‘it won’t be the same’ once she goes home.  You are correct, it won’t be the same.  Hopefully, your relationship will last.  The first student we ever really felt was our own son was Chef, 10 years ago.  We all remain close.  It’s possible to have a strong long-distance relationship.  You have to trust each other.  It’s not easy, but it’s not rare either.

After returning home-Be prepared for this one.  I wasn’t, and spent about three weeks in bed.  Husband was so worried about me, he bought tickets to visit Chef.  It gave me something to look forward to, and let me see life goes on.   Since then, I’ve seen it over and over with close family/student relationships.   After your FES returns home, and cries herself to sleep because she misses you and free refills America so much, she’ll protect herself by withdrawing.  This phase usually starts after 3-4 weeks after returning home, and lasts about a month or so.   FES will dodge your emails, IMs, and phone calls.  She may even ‘hide’ from you.   It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you anymore, it’s an unconscious attempt to make the pain go away.  The student most likely explains it away as being ‘too busy’ to keep in touch.  Be patient, and understanding.  I know it hurts you tremendously, but do you really want to force communication?  How can you do it from thousands of miles away anyway?   Just keep writing, and sending photos.  FES will return to your life.

Please read the rest of my reverse culture shock series, part 1, part 2, and part 4.



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