Author Topic: Student Exchange  (Read 4058 times)

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kajunchick

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Student Exchange
« on: October 04, 2012, 12:53:06 PM »
Hi, my daughter has been bugging me about studying abroad for her junior year of high school. She is particularly interested in Germany. I've been researching it online, but I'd like some feedback from anyone who has experience with this.

Do you guys have any tips or advice? Screams of "Don't let her do it!" ? Encouraging stories?

She's an honor student, responsible, independent, and adventurous. I think she'd do well, but of course I'm concerned about safety.
Everybody in this family needs to just calm down and eat some fruit or something.


NyaChan

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 01:06:01 PM »
I was a study abroad peer mentor in college and studied abroad myself so I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to seriously consider studyign abroad. 

I would have been older than your daughter is now when I did it, but  as long as you use a reputable program, I don't think safety is any more of an issue in most countries than it would be if she was an on-campus college student (absent unexpected circumstances of course).  Some countries might actually be more safe than where she is now - for example: I went to undergrad at a campus that was in the city.  Japan by comparison was more safe for me as long as I was smart and used proper precautions. 

That said, I would encourage her to wait until she is in college - she will have a fuller experience for it and be able to approach the experience more independently than she can when she is only 16ish years old.  If you have any specific questions about it, feel free to PM me.  It has been a while since I've officially counseled someone about studying abroad, but I think I still have the basics down  :)

Steve

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 01:12:57 PM »
I have studied abroad, and I agree with NyaChan: it is a very good experience for everyone, but she will benefit better if she is a little older. Germany is a pretty safe country, nice people mostly. Just be selective of the organisation she goes with. I went with Aspect (not even sure it still exists) and had a terrible time with them. There were other organisations that dealt with their students in a much better way.



QueenfaninCA

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 01:25:32 PM »
Germany is neither much safer nor much unsafer than the US. I'm worried about something else: You don't write if she actually speaks German. If she learns it from scratch she's probably not going to learn much in school in that year. Also I'd check with her school how they credit her classes from there.

I grew up in Germany and some students I knew spent the equivalent year in the US. Despite speaking English well before they went, most of them ended up repeating that grade in Germany because the curricula were just too different and they couldn't keep up in class when they came back because they missed stuff that their peers in Germany had learned.

Betelnut

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2012, 01:51:21 PM »
I've often thought of being a host to an exchange student.  Anyone have experiences with that?

As for the OP?  I would let her do it in a heartbeat.  You regret the things you haven't done, generally speaking, and living in a foreign country is a tremendously enriching experience.
"And thus the whirligig of time brings in his
revenges." -- Feste, Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.

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Ereine

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2012, 02:17:26 PM »
I was an exchange student in college and while I don't regret it and I had some good experiences I probably would have been just as happy if I hadn't done it and would have been spared a lot of angst and money. It was due to an unfortunate combination of a school that didn't really have a system for taking care of exchange students, getting private tutoring from teachers (which was great for learning, not so great for meeting people) and being very shy, so I made no friends in the six months I was there (though I did speak to the two other exchange students there, but their interests were just too different). I think that it can work out great, if the program is good and if you have the right sort of personality. I also agree that she might get more out of it as an independent adult, one thing I really enjoyed was travelling to all sorts of places for day trips and that's probably easier when you're more independent. There's also the fact that you can buy beer and wine in Germany at 16, if that might be a problem.

NyaChan

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2012, 02:28:14 PM »
Wow I don't know how I forgot this, but right after I graduated from high school, I went to Spain on a 3 week trip with a bunch of Juniors/just graduated Seniors that was run by our HS Spanish teacher (who could barely speak spanish ::) ).  Now I'm not saying that everyone is going to do this, but Ereine's post reminded me of it - the alcohol thing was an issue.  Parents who asked if the kids would be chaperoned on this aspect of things were told by the teacher that this was between the parent and the child - if they didn't want their child drinking, they needed to either not let them go, or have a conversation & trust their child.  I was put in the unfortunate position of watching my friend's younger brother drink himself silly while he begged me not to tell his parents.  Sigh.  So yeah, that's another thing to think about.

magdalena

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2012, 04:52:49 PM »
I was an exchange student in hugh school and in university, and really, those are two completely different experiences and I recommend both.

In high school, I really got to take a dive and soak up all of the culture, family life and so on. I lived with a family, had siblings and parents, so to say. I went to school and was pretty worry-free, to be honest. it was amazing. And hard. And exhausting. And rewarding.

In university, I was on my own. I had an appartment I shared with some other students, but it wasn't all that easy getting to know "locals". A lot of exchange students end up hanging around with each other (I also observed this in my own University back home).

Only caveat:
going to Canada on an exchange in 1995 caused me to become German in 2011.
I met my now-husband there.

...we're going to never let our daughter talk with any foreigners, ever ;-)



Pippen

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2012, 05:40:00 PM »
I know loads of people who have done it and most of them loved the experience. The language was an issue but they picked it up pretty quickly. It would definitely pay to get a thorough understanding of the school system first. From what friends have told me the German system is hot on the sciences, maths and technology so if she is not loving that angle she might struggle.

Finding a good fit with a host family is probably the most important the people I know who had to change host families found it really difficult as they were in a kind of powerless position and tried to stick it out so as not to cause trouble but it just came down to diametrically different people. My friend K was sent to a very strict and religious family and was made to attended church up to 4 times a week. Another one found the host family expected her to basically be a nanny for their younger children.

rashea

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2012, 05:47:39 PM »
You might consider a summer program as well. I did a People to People Student Ambassador program. We did homestays and quite a bit of travel around. It was a fairly safe and chaperoned program.
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kajunchick

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2012, 09:55:54 PM »
Thanks for all the input. I will definitely do my homework as far as which program, and I'll talk to her school counselor about credit for classes.  Has anyone had experience with AFS-USA?
Everybody in this family needs to just calm down and eat some fruit or something.


amandaelizabeth

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 09:32:46 PM »
My  16 year Niece has just returned from a year in Quebec.  It was a little town that was as far away from New Zealand as it is possible to get.  She was the only english as a first language speaker there.

She had a wonderful time, kept up her studies and made so many new friends.  Although the family were a little unsure about her going, it has been such a positive experience that we are glad she did.

katycoo

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 10:32:34 PM »
Is the drinking age in Germany still 16?  That would be a minor concern of mine.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2012, 04:20:26 AM »
The drinking thing is really more of a problem if you go with a high school group of your peers - if you just go by yourself, you get to know teens in your host country and learn all their stupid things to amuse yourself with instead  :P

Academics are definitely something you want to think about, though.  If your DD does a year abroad in high school, will she miss out on any subjects she really should be learning about?  (Most high schools give you one year each of various sciences, for example, so if you go abroad and miss physics you may need to fit an extra physics class in another year so you're not behind your peers in college.  Assuming you wanted to learn more about physics, that is.)  If your DD goes abroad in college, can she still finish up her major and the main electives she wants even without that semester/year?  It's doable, but probably takes more forethought when choosing her courses.

The other thing is to really think about the purpose of studying abroad.  If she wants to soak up the culture and really experience how kids grow up in another country, high school is a great time to go.  If she wants to pursue some particular academic course - dance or theater or speaking Urdu or building robots or whatever - study abroad in college can give her the chance to be in one of the world hotspots for that discipline.  It's also worth considering possible destinations: a semester in Namibia will give a completely different experience than a semester in Japan, or Australia, or Russia.

Alpacas

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Re: Student Exchange
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2013, 05:01:24 PM »
Hi, my daughter has been bugging me about studying abroad for her junior year of high school. She is particularly interested in Germany. I've been researching it online, but I'd like some feedback from anyone who has experience with this.

Do you guys have any tips or advice? Screams of "Don't let her do it!" ? Encouraging stories?

She's an honor student, responsible, independent, and adventurous. I think she'd do well, but of course I'm concerned about safety.

As a german i could recommend Munich as a destination for her. ^_~
Beautiful city, wonderful people, and from what i can see with the exchange students in my university and the schools surrounding it, they really enjoy it.
Munich is close to the alps. It's in the beautiful bavaria and bavaria is generally known to be on the first place in germany educationalwise.
( i think you can guess where i'm from  ;D )

Drinking age for Wine and beer is indeed 16
Mixdrinks and "hard alcohol" is only allowed when you're 18 and older.

If you're concerned about her safety then i can only say that she's as safe her in Germany as in any other country. :)