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High School Foreign Exchange Student

Thelma Said:

What is the most important question you have about hosting a high school foreign exchange student?

We Answered:

The most important question I usually want to know of the students we host is "Why are you doing the exchange?" Other important questions (in no particular order):
- What (specific or general terms) do you expect of us, as host parents? For example, do you expect that we will take trips to (insert names of tourist spots near to where we live) at least once a month while you are here? Do you expect that we will be strict? Do you expect us to have the same level of trust in you that your parents have? Do you expect us to help you with your homework for one hour every night? Etc.
- What personal adjustments do you expect to make and how can we help to make those happen?
- What's your favorite kind of food? What foods do you absolutely hate?
- What do you do in a typical day? How about on weekends?
- What is your family like (mother, father, siblings, personalities, habits, etc.)?
- What kind of 'living situations' have you lived in? For example, living in a small apartment in a big city where you walk to school (less than 15min away) and the mall (less than 15min away), living on a farm in the country where you take a bus for 30+min to school and your grandparents live with you as well, etc.
- Have you ever been away from your family for a significant amount of time (eg. visiting a friend who has moved away for a month)?
- What are you hobbies?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- Can you trust us to do what's in the best interest of you?
- Can you ask for help when faced with difficulties?
- How do you show 'good' and 'bad' emotions?
The list is endless, but the reasons for doing the exchange are the most important thing - if you're heart isn't into the experience, nothing else matters.

Glen Said:

My daughter wants to spend a year in Brazil as a high school foreign exchange student. Any helpful insights?

We Answered:

Though we speak Portuguese in Brasil, Spanish is very similar and will help her a lot!

I don't think there's gonna be hard to adapt at all. Brazilians are very receptives, specially teenagers!

There are too many holidays in Brasil, but only the Catholic ones have real meaning (like Xmas and Easter) - other than that is just an excuse for a long weekend.

As for cultural differences ... teens can't drive (only after 18). Nor drink, ALTHOUGH underage drinking is natural here. Most bars won't ask for id. Dating here is also very different. A bit more liberal, but nothing to worry about! ;)

Public school are only functioning to keep kids out of the streets. And most kids only attend because there's a cash bonus for each children the family keep in school.
Private school is mandatory!!! She may have some geografy and history dificulties.

Andrea Said:

How can I sign up to become a foreign exchange student in High School?

We Answered:

I'm also looking into going abroad during high school. A lot of the foreign exchange kids that I met from school are through an exchange program called AFS. Remember you have to consider how long you want to stay, where and how much its going to cost. I never really considered the cost issue but through AFS they can offer things like financial aid, scholarships and fund raisers. Also you need to talk to your guidance councelor to figure out what credits will transfer over so you can be placed in your correct grade level. I hope this helps get you on your way!

Toni Said:

Where is the best place for an African-American girl to visit as a high school foreign exchange student?

We Answered:

ahh that is so cool
I'm black and will also be doing a foreign exchange program next year to a Spanish speaking country.
The one thing that I find "stupid" is that you want to go to a country that is "similar to the U.S"

That is just so stupid, you won't learn anything about yourself or the surrounding world if you insist on surrounding yourself with people of your likes. Seriously, why go to a cheap version of America, eat mcdonalds, shop at walmart or anything else that you could be doing in the states when you could go to a secluded exotic region of the world and meet people who live in completely different cultures?

My advice: go to Chile, Cuba, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay or Spain (if you must)

** most Latin American countries are actually pretty racist, the least racist would probably be Cuba followed by spain.

Danny Said:

Has anyone ever heard of a handicapped high school student doing a foreign exchange?

We Answered:

It would be surprising to me if AFS ever rejected an exchange student based on physical limitations. If your grades are good and you show the ability to work with other AFS activities in your school, then you stand a good chance of being accepted. Also, if your family applied and took in a foreign exchange student for the summer or a year, you stand a good chance of being accepted as well. I do know one family for which the experience didn't go well when a girl came to their house from France. Their daughter still spent a year in Switzerland, so you have every reason to expect that your application would have as much of a chance to be accepted as anyone else's. If you know the AFS advisor at your school, go talk with them. I think the only real obstacle might be finding a home somewhere that can accomodate your chair. It may be difficult, but not impossible. I remember our AFS advisor saying that the organization was looking for an American family who can accomodate a deaf student. Some people I knew had a son who was deaf but not yet high school age. They allowed them to house a deaf boy for a summer and then when their son was old enough, he spent a summer at the same boy's home. It was a great experience for all. I hope you have a great experience....it can't hurt to ask about it. There are other groups, not just AFS, so just keep looking until you find a group that will help you. I just can't believe AFS would deny you just for having CP. Diversity is the word nowadays. I say Go For It!!
You sound like you have a bright future, so keep your enthusiasm and you'll go far. Good luck!

Becky Said:

What's the best company to travel abroad with as a high school foreign exchange student?

We Answered:

Though not an industrialized country as you would want it, Ghana [in West Africa] is a good option to consider. Can provide you with some excellent companies that you would travel with.

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