foreign exchange questions

(30 Posts)
bettterandnow Tue 08-Oct-13 14:45:43

DS is very quiet but wants to continue studying German. However the idea of foreign exchange terrifies him and I must admit I am not looking forward to it as the school have said in no uncertain terms that all AS level students must take part in the foreign exchange. How do you cope with a foreign exchange student? Any experince/tips gratefully received. How will we cope with the evenings? What did you do? There is nothing around us but restaurants and not exciting ones at that.

Chopchopbusybusy Tue 08-Oct-13 14:54:50

Watching with interest!
I've just sent the deposit for DDs Spanish exchange trip.
DD goes to Spain first and then the Spanish student will come here a couple of months later. Worst case scenario will be if they hate one another! Hopefully that won't happen.
We live in a small town where nothing much happens! My plan is to organise some trips out and keep them busy.

Leeds2 Tue 08-Oct-13 17:03:12

Whereabouts do you live? Just wondering what your nearest city was.

We have had two exchanges (Spanish and American),but we live near London so plenty of possible day trips.

Will the boys be in school for some of the time? That would obviously help! I had trips organised for the weekend days, and we went to Harry Potter World (the American girl was a big HP fan) and the seaside (Brighton) as well as the London stuff. Both of ours also liked shopping, but they were girls! Go swimming, or bowling. Play on the wii or xbox, if you have them. DD and her Spanish exchange watched a couple of dvds in English, but had the Spanish subtitles turned on!

bettterandnow Tue 08-Oct-13 21:35:48

Hoping weekend trips will help but it's more the evenings that I am fretting about! After dinner how does a shy lad think of things to do when all he does is read or go on laptop. We have some board games but he will have to make an effort with those as he thinks the exchange student will not be interested in anything we have to offer. The expense is not going to be easy. and I'm trying to make the house look better but every little thing adds up and decided can't spend anymore will just have to make sure it is really clean to make up for the state of our belongings.

It will be end of November the student will be here so cold and dark early on. Just wondering how others have kept the awkwardness at bay.

joanofarchitrave Tue 08-Oct-13 21:42:18

Sounds like an excellent opportunity for your son to learn the international language of poker... we used to play a lot of that in our house.

Or snooker? Is there a snooker club locally that takes 16 year olds? Then they could watch The Colour of Money with the German subtitles on...

Finding out what the other lad would like to do, or normally does in the evening, would be a good start - maybe they could exchange a few emails, does your school encourage that?

TBH it could be the start of a new phase in your son's life. Maybe there could be a bit of a group meeting up from your son's school with their exchange partners to snog in the park to hang out together?

joanofarchitrave Tue 08-Oct-13 21:43:17

You could maybe ask the school if they could organise a mid-exchange 'later welcome' party?

bettterandnow Tue 08-Oct-13 22:26:07

I am hoping the school will make sure there is the opportunity for communication beforehand but they seem to be busy teaching and organising at present so we have to wait for a meeting much nearer the time. I think it will be good for my ds but of course it could go badly or be thought by ds to have gone badly then makes the exchange next year be even more of a worry.

I want to make the time here as happy and good an experience as possible but ds just keeps poo pooing my thoughts so I try not to talk about it at present.

wondering what others do in the evenings if they have had exchange experience.

FernieB Wed 09-Oct-13 12:19:16

I currently have a foreign exchange student with us - she arrived yesterday and is very quiet. We're trying our best to make her feel welcome but at the moment it feels quite awkward. Hopefully once she's settled in a bit more she'll 'warm up'. We're also wondering what to do in the evenings - we have a couple of things planned but it is hard to try to fill the time. I may initiate a Wii Just Dance session later if I can get them all interested.

MrsZimt Wed 09-Oct-13 12:25:34

Cinema, Bowling, Cooking together, TV, Wii, Poker, ...

If it's just the evenings, does the school provide daytime activities or "just" school?
If they go on day trips they may be tired in the evenings.

I used to organise exchanges, but then I'm in London so there is always something to do.

ZZZenagain Wed 09-Oct-13 12:45:21

is the boy from a small town or a city?

Lottie4 Wed 09-Oct-13 14:39:38

We had a student last year, who was lovely. She was very quiet to start with but half way through she started to relax, was very obliging and pleasant. She asked if she could use the shower and was in bed before my daughter. She didn't ask to use the computer, although, we did volunteer it a couple of times for emails to friends. She totally fitted in with our lifestyle. She actually came armed with eight books to read, so she had something to do herself.

To be honest I didn't want to be messing around with food too much, so I gave her two options each day, ie salmon or chicken, cheesy pasta or Bolognese. I put veggies in a dish and left her to help herself or not. We asked what filling she wanted in sandwiches and said if she didn't like something to bring it back, so we knew and didn't give it her again. She was actually really easy to feed and would try anything.

The first night we played on the wii as it was something we could easily do without having to worry about the language barrier. During her stay, we did things most evenings, local walk around the park, on the hill, played a game, looked through our photos and books together, had another girl for tea, my daughter and another friend actually chose to take her around the local shops themselves and bought some fish and chips back for her to try as well. She also had studies she had to do in the evening. At the weekends we went to a castle, into our local town and to a countryside village. She was very polite and readily did all these things.

Regarding your home, all you need to have is one that's reasonably clean and tidy. It's only for a few days, not for life. We have a two bed house and both girls were in the same room which the other girl accepted, despite coming from a six bedroomed home herself!!

bettterandnow Wed 09-Oct-13 15:36:36

The exchange student is coming from Berlin and we are in a small village with nearest and best place being London but it's a trek so could only do it at the weekends when I think the school will have something organised but don't know how much yet but it really is the evenings I am concerned about. I've thought about a trip out to fish and chip shop and if it wasn't going to be cold and dark I would do the walk along the streets eating chips with a wooden "fork" but just realised you don't see that anymore do you? Still good old fish and chips might be something new for them. Checked out bowling and cinema but they are an hour's drive away and so could maybe do something one evening with that. They are here for nearly two weeks! Lottie4 I've been hoping our experience turns out like yours grin but trying to learn as much as possible from others and MNetters are always such a fountain of experience and knowledge!

I'm not brilliant at cooking and our kitchen is tiny so not sure about that but it could be funny experience given my lack of german and DS's help grin

FernieB come back with progress reports if you have time smile hope it goes well - what language?

Marmitelover55 Wed 09-Oct-13 16:06:29

I remember my German exchange in 1982. It was a bit of a disaster as the German girl only liked horses and spent her entire time at the stables. I went a coupled of times with her but am scared of horses. Her friends told me she wouldn't be able to leave the horses for the return exchange visit, and surf enough she didn't, did to a "broken arm".

I still had a good time though. Her brother and girl friend took me to a music concert and we went on some day trips. In the evening I discovered I could meet my best friend, as she was staying not far away.

I hope your visit goes well grin

FernieB Wed 09-Oct-13 16:40:23

Lottie - I really hope mine relax soon. We actually have 2 German girls (I have twin DDs) and they are spending most of their time in one of their rooms together. My DDs are finding it a struggle at the moment. Hopefully they warm up to each other soon or I suspect my DDs won't want to make the return visit.

BlackMogul Thu 10-Oct-13 00:11:38

Fernie.....Big mistake for you to have two exchange students I'm afraid, they will just talk to each other!!!!

As for the evenings I think Cinema , theatre, sport match, particularly football as it will probably be understood by your exchange student. Personally I think exchanges are a bit like an arranged marriage, but for just a week. Have a look in the local papers to see what's on. A fair maybe where they could meet with others? Compete at computer games? Talk?

FernieB Thu 10-Oct-13 12:57:18

BlackMogul - I know 2 was a risk but my twin DDs both wanted to go on the exchange so I had no choice. Last night was a little better - they seemed to like playing Wii and they went to Guides with my kids. There is still very little interaction between the 4 girls though. One of the exchange girls will talk but the other barely opens her mouth unless it is to whisper to her friend. My DDs are not much better actually and are struggling to get a conversation going. We used to live in Germany so my DDs are fluent in German but I think they just have nothing in common. It's turning out to be an interesting experience but not one I would repeat. Maybe when we take them shopping they'll find things in common.

ZZZenagain Thu 10-Oct-13 13:39:29

any chance of spliitting them up - one of your twins goes off somewhere with one girl, the other twin with the other exchange student and then maybe they meet up together afterwards by which time they are hopefully talking to each other.

A Berliner of that age will be used to being quite independent.

FernieB Thu 10-Oct-13 14:22:47

They will be split up a bit at the weekend. Hopefully that will help. I agree a Berliner would be quite independent however these girls are from a very small town.

Moominmammacat Thu 10-Oct-13 20:43:16

We've done nine exchanges and they are so good for the dcs, even the ones you wouldn't naturally gravitate to. Just keep them busy in each other's houses.

ICanTotallyDance Fri 11-Oct-13 01:20:06

How long is the exchange? My family has experience with several exchanges/homestays, though mostly Japanese children.

I would recommend:

watching a movie with subtitles- no effort required for anyone!
playing a board game
cooking a traditional meal together
going for walks? weather dependent
go to any local bowling alley/skating rink/etc
a meal out one night
tv/wii

One night you might want to invite other people with exchange students over, maybe for a pizza party? The exchange students will talk amongst themselves and the others can do whatever. It can be a good excuse to play silly party games (think ice breaking games etc) and eat unusual or junk food.

And, if you can afford it, the big weekend trips are nice, e.g. to the ocean, to london/nearby big city, to a farm etc.

The rest of the time, they can probably entertain themselves a bit. When you're in a new country it can be quite nice just to sit and read or to write a letter or email home.

FernieB Fri 11-Oct-13 09:33:46

Girls are getting on better now. We went for a walk yesterday evening and then they all spent ages playing games on their phones together (swapping phones) and chatting. Hope this continues as it's quite stressy and awkward when no-one will speak. Tomorrow we are off to a mall and probably a stately home or zoo on Sunday.

ZZZenagain Fri 11-Oct-13 10:00:30

ask him to teach you Skat which is a German card game using only part of the pack. Do you have Monopoly? He probably learnt it with the German version which has different street names etc, so might like to try the British version.

Make hotdogs, popcorn and watch a DVD, go for a walk in the dark with torches (IME Germans are keen on these walks, every camp dc go on seems to include one of these) and come back for a hot chocolate with cinnamon sticks or marshmallows. If the area suits and you have bikes, go for a cycle ride before it gets too dark, come back and have a hot punch. Make your own pizza base (or buy it) and a load of toppings and have the boys prepare the toppings and serve it. Depends what kind of outdoor activities are available where you are - ice skating, tree-top climbing, anything like that should go down ok. If it is dry, have a fire in the garden and roast bread, sausages and marshmallows over it. You can also invite a couple of other boys along to that.

Otherwise any quirky British thing they have read about in schoolbooks will go down well, as well as trips to London, seaside or Oxford/Cambridge.

FernieB Sun 13-Oct-13 11:08:27

Betterandnow - I wouldn't worry unduly about the evenings. Our exchange students haven't shown much interest in trips out, they mainly want to hang around playing on their phones, playing Wii or watching movies. So I've now given up and am just leaving them to it. Don't worry too much about cooking either. I used to live in Germany and the German families I knew would not allow their kids to eat 'junk' food (so the kids always wanted to eat it) so if you want to make life easy you can serve them up burgers and pizza and they will love it. I have cooked nice meals and also done burgers and they clearly would rather eat burgers.

I am nearly at the end of the week and wish I hadn't wasted so much time planning stuff. Just carry on as normal and let the exchange fit in with you. BTW ours loved a trip to the supermarket - German supermarkets are generally quite small with not much choice - so they were amazed by the selection.

I've had loads over the years - even when my own DC stopped languages, because they were short of host families.

In my experience, they usually congregate at someone's house in the evening. When it was my turn, I had a BBQ for about 14. The school will also organise ceilidhs/discos at night. The Germans tend to go to bed early, as they are used to starting school earlier at home. We had one boy who was in bed by 9pm every night.

We also watched films, took the exchange students out for dinner, and they went to scouts etc along with my own DC.

Don't feel you have to entertain them. They're here to see what normal family life is like. We did do tourist trips at the weekend, though. They liked that x

Sorry - not finished. But check out where the school is taking them first so that you don't end up going to the same place.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now