At være udveklingsstudent

At være Udvekslings student

Individualism and Self-Reliance

Most Americans think that the “ideal” person is someone who is independent and self-reliant. Most American teenagers will try to do things on their own without asking for help unless they really need it. Many teenagers, but not all, prepare their own meals and do their own laundry. The majority of teens move away from home to attend college after high school. Their independence and self-reliance help them adjust easily to living unsupervised by a parent. They are comfortable being responsible for themselves. Still, most parents like it when their son or daughter comes to them for help. Never be afraid to ask your host parents for help, they will always be happy to help you!


In the United States, men and women are considered to be equal. In many families, both parents work. Parents, and sometimes children, share household responsibilities. Some men do laundry, dishes, and chores that may be considered “a woman’s job” in other countries. Some women mow the lawn, shovel snow, change the oil in the car and do other chores that may be considered “a man’s job”. Do not be insulted if someone asks you to help him or her with something that you think is “a man’s job” or “a woman’s job”. They ask you to help because they consider you as their equal. Treating a man or a woman unequally is insulting; please try to avoid doing this to maintain a good relationship with your host family, your teachers, and your peers.
Families in America often keep animals as pets. The most common pets are dogs and cats. But Americans also keep birds, rodents like hamsters and guinea pigs, fish, as well as reptiles like snakes or even lizards. In your home country you might not treat these animals as pets. You are in a different culture now and you must respect it. Remember to always be kind to your family’s pets and NEVER mistreat them in any way. Often, Americans treat their pets as another member of the family! If you are scared of them, just tell your family, and they will understand if you don’t want to be around the animal. They will help you with the situation, either by keeping the animal away from you, or helping you to get used to the pet so you are not scared of it anymore.
Meals at home are provided. Some, but not all, American families eat meals together. If your host family has their meals together, you will be expected to participate. If your Host Family takes you out to eat, you should offer to pay for your own meal. If the Host Family insists on paying, you should certainly smile and say thank you. If you wish to buy lunch at school or other food outside the home, you must pay for that yourself. For school lunches you will usually take a sandwich and fruit that you have to prepare before going to school. Refrigerator food and snack food in the kitchen is for the whole family. You must always consider this before you take the last piece of anything.
Some families may ask you to cook a traditional dinner of your home country for them on occasion. They might want to try new things and learn about what you are used to eating. You may be asked to make your own lunch or breakfast. Most American teenagers do this.
Table Etiquette
Every country has different “rules” for how one should behave while eating. Many American families eat their meals together. You should eat dinner when it is served to the family. Always wash your hands before meals. Wait until everyone is seated before you begin eating. Put your napkin in your lap and do not put your elbows on the table. Use utensils, if they are available, to serve and eat food. Chew quietly and with your mouth closed. Do not talk with your mouth full. Do not slurp soup or any other liquids. Do not lick your fingers; use your napkin. Do not burp, and if you do burp accidentally, always say, “Excuse me”. Do not reach for food, if you cannot reach it easily, always ask someone else to pass it to you. When a meal is finished, help the family clean off the table and carry dishes to the sink. Always say thank you to the cook!
Some families have young children and they may ask you on occasion to supervise them. This is something that is often expected from older siblings and not everyone will get paid for their time. You may be expected to baby-sit for free from time to time. You should work out a system in the beginning with your host family. You should not be asked to baby-sit more than a few hours a week without pay or compensation of some sort. If you feel that your family is asking you to baby-sit too much please let us know.
In most American families, children are expected to perform chores. They sometimes receive a small allowance for this, but not always. You will probably be asked to clean up after yourself, make your bed, wash your dishes, clean your room and possibly do your own laundry without an allowance. This is what is expected of most American teenagers. If you do not know how to do something, please ask your host family. They will be happy to show you. You may be asked to do additional chores as well, such as cooking the family dinner, vacuuming, washing the windows,dusting, and sweeping, which may or may not be rewarded with an allowance. These are things that are usually done on a weekly basis. You may also be asked to teach the family some words in your native language. We encourage this, and it should be fun for you and not feel like a chore. Ask your host family what your responsibilities will be in the house. Remember if you feel like you are being asked to do too much, please let us know.
Most families do not do laundry every day. Some families may only do laundry once or twice a week. If your host family does your laundry you will be expected to wait until laundry day. If you need to wash your clothes on days that the family doesn’t do laundry please talk to your host family. They will show you how to use the washer and dryer and let you know how often and what hours are appropriate for washing your clothes. You probably will not be permitted to do your laundry every day.
Many American Families go to church on a regular basis. It is imprtant for you to attend church and other functions with the family. It does not mean that you must accept the family’s beliefs, but should show an interest in the family’s traditions. Going to church and other events is also a way to meet more people and experience another part of American life. Many churches offer social experiences for young people.Many churches have Youth groups*.

*Youth group is a social group for teenagers, which is usually affiliated with a church. They

often go on outings to the movies, camping, or have dances or other functions. Participating in youth

group activities is a great way to meet other teenagers and the activities are usually a lot of fun. You do

not need to be of any certain religion nor do you need to convert to join.

telephone card available locally at department or convenience stores.
If you are going to make a call to your home country, please use a calling card unless you work out an arrangement with the family to pay for the calls once the bill arrives. All calls placed by the student that are direct dial calls go straight to the host family’s phone bill! Calls made in this manner are the sole responsibility of the student. These calls are to be paid for immediately in time for that month’s payment of the phone bill. Thunder Exchange does not condone any student’s disregard of phone responsibility. Failure to adhere to phone rules of the host family could result in the loss of phone privileges in the home. Overseas telephone calls are very expensive and have been a cause of severe shock and financial trauma to exchange students and host families! Phone bills for hundreds and even thousands of dollars have been received in a single month! Exchange students are encouraged to purchase a prepaidtelephone card available locally at department or convenience stores. Most families only have one phone so be considerate and do not be on the phone too long. Many families understand if you talk to your parents once a week for an hour, but if you talk to them that much every day it is too much. Be respectfulof the other people in the family. In addition, most families do not like for someone to call them after 10 PM or before 6:30 AM, please especially let your friends and parents who are in a different time zone know this.

If your host family has a computer, they may set hours for when you will be able to use it. Please respect their wishes. One hour per day on the computer should be more than enough time to complete any homework assignments or to send and receive email. You should NOT spend all of your free time on the computer or telephone, chatting, writing, and speaking in your native language. It will NOT help you to practice and improve your English. Excessive use of the computer, with or without permission, is unacceptable behavior and can result in warning or probation. If you download material that offends members of the host family, this can create problems that will cause tension and be hard to mend. Inappropriate use of the computer can result in a total loss of computer privileges.


If you would like to go out with your friends at night, you will probably be given a curfew. On school nights it is only acceptable to go out on special occasions or to attend an event. On the weekend, your curfew will usually, but not always, be between 10 and midnight. Your host family will discuss your curfew with you. Please be courteous and respect their wishes.


Most Americans are very punctual and have their activities planned on a schedule. Being late is considered rude. If you cannot be on time, you should contact the people that you are meeting to notify them that you will be late. If you arrive late, you should apologize to the person that you kept waiting.


In the United States, you should express gratitude when someone does something for you or gives you something. If you do not say “thank you” after a person gives you a gift, he or she may think that you did not like the gift. If you do not say “thank you” after someone does something for you, he or she may feel unappreciated and may be less likely to help you the next time that you need it. When someone tells YOU thank you, be sure to always say, “You’re welcome.” Always be sure to use “please” when asking for help or anything else. People who do not use these courtesy phrases are often considered ungrateful, disrespectful, or rude.


Nonverbal Communication
When speaking with someone, you should try to keep eye contact with him or her. If you do not look into their eyes, they may think that you are not listening, that you are not interested, or that you are not telling the truth.

In the United States, hygiene is VERY important. Body odor and bad breath are considered to be offensive. This is why the American society has so many products to cover up bad smells such as perfumes, scented lotions and candles, deodorants, antiperspirants, toothpaste, mouthwash, and breath mints. Shower at least once daily, and always following rigorous exercise. Change all of your clothing daily, including undergarments and socks. Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before all meals. Sleep between the sheets and wear separate clothing to sleep in. Brush your teeth every day (most Americans brush their teeth 2-3 times a day).


Family Activities
Most American families have one or more children and plan activities together. You should always participate when you are asked to join in the fun. They are wonderful opportunities to learn new things and to get closer to your family. Eat dinner with your family if they eat all together, it is a great time to chat. Sometimes families spend the evenings together watching television or playing games. Parents often use these times to talk with their children (including YOU) about what everyone did during the day and to discuss future plans or other family matters. You are a member of this family so use this time to talk to them!


Try to be open and accept invitations to go new places or do new things. You will learn something new and make new friends in the process. If you accept an invitation, you are expected to be on time. It is considered rude to accept an invitation and then not show up. When you are invited to do something or go somewhere and you are not sure what to wear, always ask beforehand. While most invitations are informal, some invitations are formal and you should wear nice clothing and shoes. Two examples of formal events are church services and school dances.


Interest In You
Most families host students from other countries to learn more about those countries and meet new people. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about the United States and for the host family to learn about your country. During your stay, your host family will encourage you to try new things. You will learn a lot from them. Ask a lot of questions, your host family will be happy to answer them! In addition, you should share with what your life was like for you at home. Tell them about the differences between life here in the U.S. and in your country. Show them pictures and tell them about your family. Share recipes for food from your province. Teach them how to say something in your language. Your host family will be very excited to have someone so different in their home and they will be very eager to learn more about you!


It is very important to communicate with your host family! They cannot read your mind. Let them know if something is bothering you. If you do not feel like you can speak to your host family about something, please talk to your Local Representative or our staff here at the office.