Wry Exchange

Spring Homesickness
03-03-09, 1:34 am
Filed under: Depression, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Another student is homesick.

I’m a 17 year old girl, have been in France for 6 months, but I had to take a trip back to the states for University visits. My friends here have gone back to their respective countries, and while I have French friends, it’s not the same. Since I have come back from the US, I have been so so so homesick and I feel numb. I can’t eat and I have cried myself to sleep. I try to convince myself just to take it a week at a time, seeing as I only have 14 left, but it’s so hard. My teachers hate me because school is not my top priority seeing as I’m finished with it and they’re all mean to me. I don’t know if I can make it to the end. I don’t know what to do..
I feel strange about this one.  I am usually on the student’s side and feel empathy.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never known a student to return home for college visits.   Students in my program only go home for compassionate leave.     Maybe it’s because she feels the teachers hate her and are mean.  My snarky self thinks  ‘No,  they’re just being French.’   I’ve thought about this all day before writing.   Maybe it’s just because I forgot to take my happy pills 2 days last week.  We’ll go with that explanation.
Honestly, why wouldn’t she be homesick?  She was just home, and has to go through leaving a second time.  Her mid-year friends are gone.  It’s the middle of Winter.
Students from the Southern Hemisphere often go on January-January exchanges.  We don’t do January exchanges in my program.  It interupts the flow of the year.  We used to have 2-3 annually.  It’s hard on the mid-years.  They don’t fit in at school if they aren’t Juniors.  They don’t fit in with the other students who have been together since August for several months, and then the other kids go h0me.  They also teach the August newbies all the bad habits so they get a head start on rule breaking.
What advice can we give to this girl?  She doesn’t say anything about her host family.  Are they supportive and caring?  Would it help if she were to mentor the new arrivals?   What about her French?  Is it improving?  Doesn’t attending school help with language?  What about the parents and friends at home?  Are they encouraging her to come back home or be strong?
My best advice is to take one day at a time.  Think of something good each day.  Try to get some physical exercise to exhause your body so you can sleep.  Take naps after school if you can’t sleep at night.  2 years from now, this time will seem to have gone by in a snap.  You can do this.

Snarky Blog
01-23-09, 2:28 am
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.accentscrapbooking.ca/images/green-flower.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.accentscrapbooking.ca/accueil_en.php&h=302&w=300&sz=24&hl=en&start=6&tbnid=MuyDkAYq_UxLGM:&tbnh=116&tbnw=115&prev=/images?q=green+flower&gbv=2&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 This is a blog you may enjoy.  or not.

Deutschland-Blogroll Addition
12-09-08, 2:15 am
Filed under: Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

 I have a new blogroll addition.   The blog is named “Deutschland.”   It’s not the typical exchange student blog.  Clint writes to help potential students who want  to go to Germany.  Check it out.   He isn’t finished yet, but the different topics are useful.  And he can steal whatever he wants from my site as long as he credits  me.

M, what’s your professional German opinion?

Foreign Exchange Student Searches
10-06-08, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Home | Tags: ,

 Helpful hints:  Spell foreign, exchange, and student correctly.  Lots of people get those wrong.
  In the last three months, my top searches have been culture shock and homesickness.  I have different stats for ‘severe homesickness,’ ‘exchange student homesickness,’ ‘exchange student homesick,’ ‘severe homesick,’ ‘im homesick,’ and ‘homesickness for foreign exchange students.’   I didn’t realize how precise the search engines are now.  It makes sense, this is the time of year for new students and families to experience culture shock and homesickness.
Many searches are for ‘gay exchange student,’ ‘gay exchange students,’ and ‘gay foreign exchange students.’  More detailed search history is only shown for the preceding 7 days.  That’s where I see all the misspellings.  (Please remember it’s GLBT, not LBGT.)   Youth exchange welcomes gay students.
I got a kick out of how many people arrived here by searching for chipmonkey, chorrillana, and ear picks.  (The plural of monkey isn’t monkies.)   I don’t know what people are searching for, but it’s Palin, not Parlin, and I’m, not im.  Typing accurately will yield better results.  So will not voting for Palin.

Foreign Exchange Student Blogging
10-01-08, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Program | Tags: , , ,

 I love FES blogs.  It’s amazing that I can keep up with students in almost real time.  It’s incredible reading about Bolivia, France, or Korea.  The descriptions of daily life aren’t available anyplace else.  I think the small insignificant details are what I most enjoy.

When I first started volunteering, students wrote home.  I’d get a letter 3 or 4 times during their year.  Kids phoned home on Christmas and Mother’s Day or in case of a disaster.  Exchange program rules and advice haven’t changed quickly enough to keep up with technology.

Students can now publicly share their experiences with the world.  I don’t think the students realize everyone has access to the internet.  They seem to think only friends and family back home will read their blogs.  That misperception causes problems.  Problems for me, them, and the program.

“They can’t read English.”  “She doesn’t know how to use a computer.”  “He doesn’t have internet access.” “How could they ever find it?” “They’ll never find it.”  All false.  Host families and counselors find the blogs.  If they can’t read English, they’ll find someone to translate for them.  Sometimes they don’t like what they read.   Can we say “causing an international incident?”  We had a student in Asia write (mildly) about how boring school was to him.  You would have thought he wrote his family was sacrificing goats in the living room and virgins in the garden.  His host parents, school, program chairman, country chairman, and counselor all complained to our country chairman here.  Many people were involved, trying to smooth things over.  The student was close to termination.   We’ve had problems with devious hostfathers.  Some of them spend hours looking for their student’s blog.  Then they complain when they find it.  It happens more often than you’d imagine.

Feelings get hurt.  People become angry.  I get bitched at.  It could all be avoided if the students would just follow my advice.   I don’t want to hear “I’m just being honest.”  That’s fine, but you don’t have to tell everything.   I believe you can either be honest with your writing, or honest about your identity. 

  • Don’t blog under your real name. 
  • Change the name of your school.  People here in the states don’t know or care about the school’s name.  
  • If you’re the only student in your town, change the name slightly.  
  • Change the state where you’re from online.  Your friends at home know you’re from Illinois, not Indiana. 
  • Someone ‘knowing’ you write a blog, and proving you’re the author are very different. 
  • Never name your program.   “Don’t bite that hand that feeds you” comes to mind.  The program sent you abroad.  In return, you have to put up with rules and boring inconvenient meetings.  
  • Don’t write about your wild night making a porn movie while you were drunk, and how difficult it was to drive without dropping your bong. 

I’ve written about anonymity before.

Blogroll Addition-FES in France
10-01-08, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Culture, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags:

 Please welcome the latest exchange student blog, France, Je t’aime.  She loves vintage clothing, shopping, and Starbucks.  She hates almost everything else.  Not really, but it’s a fun blog.  The girl bitches and snarks like me, but she’s also a romantic.  I wish her well, and hopes she makes it to Hermes, Chanel, and Dior in Paris.

Blogroll Addition-Exchange Student in Bolivia
09-28-08, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

 I found a new blog that I’m excited to share it with you.  FES is in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.   “Existence in the Heart of South America” is beautifully written, with a lot of detail.   I appreciate a strong point of view.  His experience in Bolivia is deeply personal, and I don’t have the same perspective. FES wrote that women drivers are rare, and that wasn’t my experience.  He writes about things I forget or don’t think to mention.  He wrote about the filth in Santa Cruz.  I forgot about how much litter there is in South America.  It’s something I just don’t notice.  (I also don’t notice dust or dirty dishes.  I can walk past clutter for months without seeing it.)  He wrote about difficulty getting time alone.  I forgot about that, too.  I need time to myself daily.  I go crazy when I have to talk to people nonstop.    Go read the blog before I just ruin it and tell you everything the kid wrote.

ETA: I removed the link.  He’s hurting people’s feelings.