Wry Exchange

And, They’re Off!
08-12-08, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

 The new outbound students are leaving.  They started leaving the states in late July, and will continue until early September.  Some countries prefer the students arrive early for schooling-Brasil, Thailand, India, while Spain and Italy want FES to arrive as late as possible.

I love hearing and reading their reactions during this time. 

Before they leave the states, they all ask each other questions about what gifts to bring, what’s the temperature like, how do they dress, what about school, and how much clothing to take.  They don’t ask the kids from their new country, their new host siblings,  nor do they ask students from the states who just returned from the country.  I understand I’m an old fossil, and know nothing, but you’d think they’d ask someone who was just there.  Nope, they ask each other.  Goofbunnies.

The first day, many of them feel lost.  A lot of them will cry.  I always reassure them the “WTF was I thinking” feelings are normal.   Almost all will feel vaguely sick or weird.  I think they forget about jet lag, lack of sleep, heightened emotions from US farewells, different food, and culture shock.   They just have too much going on to think clearly. 

The next several days are wonderful.  Everything is bright, shiny, new, and ever so cool.  They are so enthusiastic.  I always wish this period could last all year for them.   We’ll let them be happy for now.


Welcome Gifts for Exchange Students
07-31-08, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

From an old post: Have you thought of a welcome gift?  I like to buy a few plain, neutral Old Navy t-shirts, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, small sizes of shampoo, soap, bath gel, razor, deodorant, and sunscreen.  She may be too shy the first few days to use the family’s products.  I get an assortment of gum, chocolate, and gummi candy, as well as a few school supplies.  And of course, a small-as-possible dictionary to carry in his pocket.
Buy a phone card so your student can call to let her family know she arrived safely.  I like buying these online. www.nobelcom.com 
  And this year’s update:  I’m picking up  small gifts for my seven students a little at a time.  I stopped at Target last week and grabbed 7 Spanish-English dictionaries from the dollar bins.  Today I picked up 7 clear plastic folders/envelopes in the dollar section.  The smaller ones are used to store checks, and the full-size ones are for bills.  Anyway, the point is for the students to keep their return plane ticket, insurance information, passport, any notarized letters from their parents, and all other important papers in this clear folder with IMPORTANT or DOCUMENTS written with a thick black marker so it doesn’t get lost.

I’m not using Nobel for phone calls as much as I used to.  I still like it, but I like Rebtel.com much better.  I can use Rebtel to call from my cellphone to cellphones in other countries.  I can automatically add $10.00 to my account anytime I get below $2.00.  I call a local (to me) number, and magically, I’m speaking with someone in Chile or Germany.  Cheap international mobile calls – Rebtel  It’s good for calling from other countries, too.  It’s an European based company.  Check them out.

For Host Families: When I host, I’ll buy a few larger items.  A full-size US flag is nice; throughout the year the students have people they meet sign them.  A pretty journal or a business card case is nice.  A teddy bear is good to hold on to for the first week; everyone needs a friend.  A tshirt or hoodie from the local high school is a great gift.

Host Family & Exchange Student First Night
07-15-07, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , , ,
  •   First Night Questions for Student and Host Family  and my comments
    What do I call you?  Mom/Dad?  Jane/John?   Tia/Tio?  Mami/Papi ? I prefer my first name at the beginning. I think the student already has a mother, and it’s a title to be earned.  I have issues, though.

  • Home-What chores should I do daily?  Weekly? Some students have maids, nannies, and housekeepers.  If you want them to help around the house, please show them step by step. You’ll probably have to show them a few times.  What areas of the house are offlimits?  Where can I store my suitcases?  Will I have a house key? Do you lock the doors? May I have friends over if no adult is home?  Are boys/girls permitted in my bedroom? 
  • My room-Will I share a bedroom?  May I hang photos and posters on the walls? Should I change my own sheets?  May I rearrange my room?  May I invite friends up to my room?  Should I make my bed daily?  Do I have a bedtime on school nights or the weekends?  Do I have a time I have to be awake on weekends?   May I nap?  Many students are used to a nap after school.  The students will have headaches the first few weeks from speaking English, and need some ‘alone’ time.   Should I close my door in the daytime? While I’m sleeping? 
  • Bathroom-How do I use the shower?  When should I take a shower during the school year?  Where should I put my toiletries?  My towel?  Where are the clean towels kept?  May I use the bathroom toiletries, or should I buy my own?   
  • Laundry-Where should I put dirty clothing?  What is the laundry procedure?  Should I do my own laundry?  How often should I wear clothing before washing, including underwear, jeans, t-shirts?  
  • Religion-Does the family attend services regularly?   Should I attend with you?  I would/would not like to go to my own services.  Does the family say ‘Grace’ before meals?  I do/do not believe in God. 
  • Pets-What are the rules concerning the pets?  Food?  Water?  Sleeping? Walking? Letting them in or out when I leave? 
  • Meals and food– Are meals at a regular time daily?  What meals do we eat together as a family? What do I do to assist in the kitchen?  Set the table? Clear the table? Help wash the dishes?  Put the dishes away? Empty the garbage?  May I help myself to food and drink anytime, or must I ask first?  How do I know if I shouldn’t eat something in the fridge? Some students aren’t kitchen savvy, they may need to learn how to make even sandwiches.  Your student may also be used to sitting and chatting with the family after a meal.  Won’t they be surprised when no one eats together, and others are eating in the car?
  • Appliances/Electronics-How do I and may I use the microwave?  The stereo?  DVD?  Computer?  May I download music?  Are there specific times I may and may not use the computer?  Must I ask before using the phone? Most students will get their own cell phone to use during the year.  
  • Going out-What time is my curfew on school nights? On weekends?  What are the rules about calling and leaving notes? Should I call if I’m going to be more than 15 minutes late?  Students may be used to just leaving without telling anyone where they are going or with who.  Let them know it’s common courtesy here with adults as well as children.  What is my address and phone number?  How do I get to school?  Home?  The bank? 
  • Likes/Dislikes-Does my host family have any likes or dislikes?  Is there anything else I should know? 

One Month Until the New Exchange Students Arrive
07-14-07, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program, Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 I am overseeing 7 students this year.  Two students are going to another country, and 5 students arriving here.  The incoming students will arrive mid-August a few days before the students from here leave.   They should have 2 weeks to adjust to our culture before school begins.  It’s not a lot of time, but they’ll make progress.  They’ll get over jet lag, and get used to the food, water, and house rules.

 All of my incoming students are able to chat online with me.   Hurray!  A few students have arrived at the airport with no verbal English skills at all.  Ever try writing notes at 70mph? I hope they all have basic English.  They’ll learn if they don’t; we send students to other countries who don’t speak the language, too. Typically, the foreign students’ verbal English is stronger than their written English from watching US movies and television shows.

I’ve emailed the new exchange students ‘Welcome’ letters in English and in their languages.  I’ve written about their new towns, schools, weather, and what to bring with them.  They will ignore my advice.  They will buy new clothes before they come. The clothes probably aren’t the ‘right’ styles, and they won’t wear them all year.  They will waste space by bringing soap, OTC medicine, and towels.  They won’t bring photos of their families and homes to share, but will bring photos of their friends making faces at their going away parties.   They’ll forget their English dictionary, but will remember 100 CDs.   It’s the same every year, and I LOVE IT.