Frequently Asked Questions

Who are you? Why should I listen to you?

I am a rare combination in an American — I have been a high school, year-long exchange student, I have hosted a foreign exchange student (as a host sibling) and I have worked extensively with local coordinators, schools and inbound exchange students in the U.S. I am by no means a definitive authority on everything, but when it comes to regulation and policy, you’re going get a more accurate, honest picture from this blog. I will tell you the things exchange organizations and their critics won’t and host families & students can’t (because they don’t know). I get all the perspectives of exchange — I know what it’s like to be a vulnerable student, a put-upon host family and the frazzled employee of an exchange organization.

What are your affiliations?

Currently, I have no affiliations. In the past, I traveled with one organization and worked for another, but will not plug either one above other reputable organizations on this blog. I will equally recommend organizations that I feel are strong, and in some cases may give personal advice on the viability of one organization over another based on personal insights. If in the future I become a local coordinator or host family (I would like to), I will disclose those affiliations.

Can you help me with my application/host family letter/other?

Sure, I’d be happy to help! I can’t write your application for you, but I am happy to look over your writing and give tips — big grammar/spelling mistakes, how I think your essay reads, etc. Feel free to email me.

Can you tell me who I should host/travel with?

I can give you recommendations, based on my personal knowledge and opinions. I cannot guarantee that the program you choose will be the best for you and your family, but I can hopefully provide insights and guidance you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Why do you often repeat information?

This blog serves three vastly different perspectives on exchange: the host family/coordinator, the “inbound” student (German, Italian, etc. coming to the U.S.) and the “outbound” student (ie: Americans going abroad). The way information should be communicated about a topic, and specific details needed, is different for each group. Therefore, you will see posts about the student application both directed TO the student filling it out, and to the host family reading/interpreting it. Obviously anyone can read sections meant for the other groups, but generally I’m expecting students are reading posts for students, host families are reading posts for host families, etc.

I don’t agree with something you wrote. I think you’re wrong.

Great! I invite other perspectives on this blog. Please feel free to comment, or send in a short personal essay for consideration. I will not post or approve for comment anything that is inflammatory, baseless, hateful or defamatory. This doesn’t mean you cannot write criticism of an organization or discuss a negative experience, but you cannot write anything that could be seen as libelous or defamatory (for legal reasons).  I may edit your post for grammar, usage and formatting (but if you are a foreign student, I won’t alter your prose significantly).

You’re old. What you write isn’t relevant anymore.

Jeeze, it is strange to feel old at 27… but in some ways, you are right. I was an exchange student in 2000-2001, before the Internet was a Big Thing, before everyone had a cell phone and before September 11th changed the international landscape. That said, a lot of fundamentals haven’t changed, and it’s not like I’m your mom — I live attached the hip to my computer, cell phone, etc. just like you do… I just don’t live under the thumb of my parents anymore 🙂 But anyway, this is why I invite guest bloggers! I’d love to post  the perspective of a current exchange student — 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 students.

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