The Family Experience
One of the coolest aspects of a reciprocal exchange is that you are essentially travelling to become a temporary part of another family. That family will be the one to guide you through the new culture, help you adjust to being away from home, assist you with schoolwork, and show you some of the most amazing things their country has to offer.
Our partners make sure to choose families that are capable of caring well for exchange students and are very excited for this unique opportunity. With those families, we work hard to match up partners that seem compatible with one another. You will come into contact with your family before the exchange begins and can decide whether we made an adequate choice by accepting or denying the matchup. If you accept, then congratulations, you have successfully gained a second family!
Gaining a second family within a culture you have never experienced before is an encounter unique to our reciprocal exchange programs as such an opportunity would likely never present itself otherwise. Your family will assist you in adapting to this new culture through the environment and language. They will be your first example of the different attitudes and customs in this other culture that act as their norm. They will be speaking in their own language and will ensure you both understand and learn what they are saying and how to respond.
You will get to become fully immersed in the lives of this other family. You will learn to understand their dynamics and discover the workings of their day-to-day routine (and how it varies from your own)! Each activity they participate in will be one you also get to experience, and surely they will take you to discover some of the exciting and unique places in their country. Many students cite their exchange family as one of the highlights of their experience.
Your own family will also grow as your exchange partner comes and immerses themselves within your culture and family life and then you will have the opportunity to become a teacher to them! I know from experience the joy of having a foreign friend arrive and getting the chance to show them around where you live, introduce them to new, delicious foods, and take them to the coolest nearby places. Having a chance to share your daily life with someone is great fun, and something that you should embrace when participating!
This family experience is truly unique and could grant you a close relationship with another family that will last for years to come!
By Sarah Zeran