This past summer, I got the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Europe. A study abroad program, called International Experience, found me a host family in Germany that invited me to stay with them for two weeks. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for my Chinese host brother Andy. My family hosted Andy for the spring 2014 semester and he attended our high school. Andy was truly as joy for my family and had a huge influence on my family and his classmates. His experience inspired me to do the same, and travel. I soon had a host family in Germany from the help of iE-USA and I was on my way!
I went to Germany with almost no knowledge of the language, but luckily, my host sister Elli went to a bilingual school and had near perfect English. My family welcomed me to their home with a homemade cake that had my name on it in German colors and made me really feel at home.
I was also extremely fortunate to be in Germany for most of the World Cup. Read the rest of this entry
Exchange students all over the world experience the same emotions, excitement, and challenges of study abroad no matter where their destination is. If you or a family member are considering studying abroad in the future or even as soon as next semester, what better (free) way to learn about the adaptation process and about other cultures than by hosting a student in the U.S. first?
Most students’ goals are to:
1. Learn another language
2. Learn about other cultures
3. Do something unique and different
What some students and families don’t realize is that by hosting, you are accomplishing these goals as well! Your exchange student will teach you slang, colloquial phrases, and even grammar from their country (do you know how to say ‘Moose’ in Thai for example?). They will explain why they have different customs than yours and show you different ways to think about the world (Did you know Frozen Yogurt shops aren’t very common in Germany?). You will also see how they handle homesickness and culture shock, two things that will happen during your exchange at some point or another that you will learn to overcome.
By becoming a host family and host sibling, you are joining a ‘club’ of sorts of international volunteers that said yes to a unique experience. You never officially stop being a host sibling, ask anyone! The relationships you build, whether as a host or an exchange student, last for a lifetime. Any host family you ask has probably seen their exchange student after they return home. They’ve had chances to visit them and see the country they came from or have invited the student back to their home away from home.
These are the types of things you can also experience, by welcoming a student into your home this year, even for a short period of time.
At iE-USA, you still have time to become a host family and join the “Host Family Club”. You can apply to host a specific student that your family chooses, that will mesh well with your lifestyle, personalities, and interests. And you won’t be alone, you will have a coordinator in your local area (whichever state you are from) to give your family an orientation, check in with you and the student monthly to see how things are going, and solve any problems that may arise. Parents should make a non-binding application at www.ie-usa.org before the end of August, to find the right student.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make a iE student’s dream come true!
Why did you study abroad?
“I had a lot of reasons for studying abroad! one of the main inspirations came from hosting exchange students in my family. I had a wonderful experience learning about another person’s culture, and sharing with and learning from them while they were also sharing with and learning from my family. I really wanted to have that experience as well. Another reason was that I really wanted to be bilingual, and I knew that going on exchange would give me the opportunity to become fluent in a language other than english. Why I chose Italy was also due to many reasons. I chose Italy because I really had always thought it was a very beautiful country, with a rich culture and history. I really wanted to learn Italian and make Italian friends, while learning more about the country. I also wanted to eat Italian food all the time! (who doesn’t?).
I chose to go for a full year because I think that a full year is when you truly start to take away all that the experience has to offer, and a half year is only 50% of the experience. You cut your experience in half, your time with your friends and time to learn the language, and many other things are halved when you do one semester as opposed to a full year abroad.
In the end I truly fulfilled all my goals! I learned Italian and became fluent in it, and was able to attend school, make lots of friends, learn a lot of other life skills (Outside of school), all while enjoying every minute of my experience!”
Ask Grayden a question in the comment section!