ADVICE FROM FORMER EXCHANGE STUDENTS
Before You Arrive
- "Be ready for a really big CHANGE."
- "Accept differences in life and traditions."
- "Talk and be nice to everybody and you'll make friends in no time. And then live and enjoy every minute!"
- "There's nothing really to prepare for, you just need to have an open attitude towards new 'strange' things and talk about differences with your family."
- "I think future exchange students should think about what it is going to be like here, that anything can happen. They have to be strong and ready for the most strange, funniest and happiest things. This is a dream from which you suddenly wake up, and it is real."
- "Forget your home country way of life and open yourself up to a completely new lifestyle.”
- "I would tell them to be open-minded and very extroverted (there's no time for shyness!), and try to enjoy their experience from the first moment--time goes by fast!!"
Advice On First Entering Family and School
- "Try to be as tolerant as possible. Be courteous and helpful, thoughtful in every aspect of family life."
- “Get ready for everything, bad and good. You can't stereotype a family. Be understanding and kind; help with the work at home and you will get favors back.”
- 'They have different views and rules that you are going to have to adjust to as soon as possible. So be prepared to change your way of life."
- "Have an open attitude and be ready to adjust to the host family. Treat the host family as your own. Be yourself."
- Try to become part of the family and be in the house as if it were your own."
- Try to join several activities in or out of school (track, youth group, et cetera)."
- "Don't be too concerned about certain problems at the beginning of the year--many take care of themselves."
- "Be patient.”
- “Observe, obey, help whenever you can, smile, show you are happy, share your feelings."
Advice On Adjusting To Family and School
- "Show your thankfulness and appreciation and make sure that the host family notices it!! Always ask whether or not you can help. Make a deal with the kids or even with the whole family that everybody always tells openly and frankly when you bother him or her. Don't let resentments build up."
- "Read a lot of American books and be prepared for a strong interest in people, feelings, and local problems. You shouldn't dream all the time of being in Manhattan or Hollywood because you may be in a rural area without many activities and the absolute necessity of a car."
- "Be prepared to be criticized, but don't criticize yourself too much."
- "Your family pays for you, takes care of you, and gives you rights. Expect to take on duties/chores.”
- "The relationship can go slow and with some difficulties, but don't despair. Try to be always optimistic.”
- "You need to study English. Don't be shy! Open your mind. And try.”
- "Try to make a little effort to help with your family; they'll give you almost everything you'll want. Sometimes, I hated my host sister and brother but I got to know them better with time and now I love them. I learned to be more open in the world and in the society by accepting new ways of life.”
- "Don't have too high an expectation of your host family or the school. Don't be angry with your host family and think that they don't care if they disagree with you in some matters. Just be patient."
- "Learn to adapt to your host family's life, but don't try to change it. Let them help you when you need them but don't make them solve all your problems."
- "After a given time life goes on normally and you are not the stranger anymore.”
- "Be open minded, talk a lot, and stay with your host family as much as possible but without forgetting your friends. Work every day. Be yourself. Have patience, especially during the first couple of months. Remember that you are living in their house."
- "To communicate everything and to appreciate everything the host family does for us. And sometimes get recharged with the patience to be able to put up with some children."
- "Do anything, even if you don't like it very much, to understand your new situation, country, friends, customs.... These are going to last for a whole year and this is a long time to be displeased. There's so much to learn and to see, to discover; try to enjoy every minute 'of it, of its beauty and charm--who knows when you'll be able to come again to the U.S.!!!"
- "You cannot really say with words what this has been. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will affect you forever."