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How to cope with coming home after your language exchange

So much time and thought, not to mention countless to-do lists, are invested into preparing for an exchange abroad, but there’s one thing that we’re never quite ready for: coming home.

(Not sure how to prepare for your trip? Consult our recipe for a great exchange)

A pile of old suitcases next to a chair
Putting down you suitcases in your own home can feel surprisingly strange after an adventure abroad!

Oddly enough, the end of an adventure always seems to come out of the blue. It’s not that we’re not expecting it, but we never expect it to be quite so tricky… On the one hand you’re happy to reunite with family and friends, but on the other, the trip you’ve spent so much time preparing for is all of a sudden behind you! How did the time pass so quickly? Did it really happen or was it all just a dream?

Don’t worry, here at Kinder Exchange we’re no strangers to going off on adventures and the inevitable return to our ‘normal lives’, so we’ve put our heads together and come up with a list of ways to make the coming home a whole lot easier…

Stay in touch

By keeping in contact with your host family and friends, you not only nurture lifelong friendships and keep your exchange experience alive, but can keep speaking the language, and make plans to visit them again! Technology makes staying in touch easy, but who doesn’t love a postcard every now and then?

Take home some customs

Staying with a native host is a truly special experience and gives an extraordinary insight into another culture. Of course, you’ll learn about the a country’s more prominent traditions, but you’ll also discover and adopt more nuanced customs. Why not take a few home with you? Adopting aspects of your host’s culture when you return home will help you to feel connected to the country and people that you’ve met and will also serve as a little reminder of your experience.

A pile of French books, comic, magazines and DVDs
The writer’s kit for continuing to feel the benefits of an exchange, even when she’s back home!

Take home some recipes

We can’t deny it, one of our favourite things about travelling is all of the amazing cuisine we get to taste… (you haven’t lived until you’ve sampled the Fontainebleau puddings just down the road from Kinder Exchange HQ!). Food doesn’t always travel so well in a suitcase, so why not ask your host family to note down the recipes for the meals you’ve eaten? As a bonus, you can impress your family with a taste of your adventure when you get home!

Keep speaking the language

During your exchange abroad you’ll have oodles of opportunities to speak another language and maybe even learn to talk like the locals! Nothing is more inspiring than putting your linguistic prowess to practical use, try to harness that inspiration when you get home and continue to use the language. Whether you’re reading magazines, comics and books, listening to podcasts, or chatting to your host family on Skype; the more you keep using the language, the more you’ll keep reaping the rewards of your exchange even after returning home!

Two young women looking over a view with their arms open in the air
Where will your next adventure take you?

Plan your next adventure!

There’s nothing better to keep the post-exchange blues at bay than planning your next adventure! Where would you like to go next? Maybe you want to return to a country to get to know it better; maybe you’re hankering for unexplored lands… Whatever you’re planning, we’d love to hear about it! (Why not tweet us to tell us about your next destination?)

How young people benefit from cultural exchanges

More and more people are beginning to understand why learning a language is important. As a result we’re all wondering what the best way to learn a language is. The immersion technique through cultural exchanges is quickly becoming a favorite.

So what’s so great about cultural exchanges?

There are so many advantages of learning a language through a cultural exchange that we can’t list them all. So here are our top ten reasons why young people benefit from cultural exchanges…

Cultural exchanges friendship confidence
Young people build confidence through overcoming obstacles and broadening their horizons.
Get motivated!

Learning grammar and vocabulary in the classroom is all well and good, but is it all that inspiring? Visiting another country on a cultural exchange gives a context to language learning because young people can apply their language skills. As a result they’ll be amazed by how much they’ve already learned and will discover the purpose of all that spelling and conjugation practice.

Develop communication and problem-solving skills

A cultural exchange is a great way for young people to prove what they know, but on some occasions they may find themselves lost for words! Such situations are often hilarious as your son or daughter will have to get creative to communicate with their host family. This will improve their communication skills and problem-solving skills, and help them to remember new vocabulary too!

Stop worrying about mistakes

As soon as speaking a language is necessary to communicate with those around you. In consequence it becomes easier to shed that self-consciousness about making mistakes or looking silly. Such sheepishness is found in abundance in secondary schools, and as such adolescences often benefit both linguistically and emotionally from cultural exchanges.

Learn the living language

Languages are living: they change and evolve with society. This makes learning a language all the more difficult yet all the more interesting. Through immersion in a family on a cultural or language exchange, young people can learn the language of young people. They’ll also learn to speak more idiomatically, just like the natives!

Experience a different culture

Some things just can’t be taught in a classroom, to some extent culture is one of them. The best way to learn about a country’s culture is to experience it in the native language. Cultural exchanges also give young people an important insight into other perspectives, broadening their horizons and encouraging them to develop their opinions and ideas.

Overcome obstacles

Cultural exchanges can be challenging, but therein lies their value. Facing hurdles during an exchange gives young people a sense of accomplishment, boosting their self-esteem and self-awareness. As a result they return home with the ambition and confidence necessary to take on new challenges and pursue new goals.

Become socially adaptable

Immersion in another culture often involves engaging in new and unfamiliar social situations. Through navigating the social customs of another country, young people become more flexible and adaptable to unknown situations in general. They also learn to appreciate other cultures and ideas, and become more open to compromise.

Cultural Exchange Friendship
Young people often build lifelong friendships during cultural exchanges
Build lifelong friendships

During a cultural exchange young people participate in the day-to-day life of a host family, effectively becoming another member of the family. They will return home to their actual family at the end of the exchange having formed long-lasting bonds with their hosts and with many new friendships. Many young people stay in contact with their hosts long after their exchange has ended and even continue to visit one-another in the future.

Get accustomed to foreign environments

Young people who participate in exchanges are often more comfortable in multicultural and multilingual environments in the future. Not will they go on to feel more at ease when abroad and traveling, but will adapt better to new environments.

Become a host

A cultural exchange is as much about hosting as it is about traveling abroad. For many young people this may be their first experience of hosting someone that they have not met before. As a result they will develop vital social skills, learning to be sensitive to the needs of others and to analyze group dynamics.

So what are the disadvantages?

Cultural exchanges sound perfect, right? However, there are a few challenges…

Finding a host family

So you’ve decided that a cultural exchange is the best way for your child to learn a language? Now it’s time for the mammoth task of finding a trustworthy host family. For those fortunate enough to have friends in far-flung places this poses no problem, however we aren’t all so lucky.
That’s where online platforms such as Kinder Exchange come in. Although there are many exchange services out there, Kinder Exchange is one of the few platforms that takes on the matchmaking process themselves. Platforms such as Kinder Exchange allow you to rest easy knowing that your child is in safe hands.

Going away from home is daunting

Being separated from your friends and family can be daunting for a young person as well as for their family. However such challenges make participating in an exchange all the more enriching. At Kinder Exchange, we help you to get to know the partner family before the exchange so that you know when your child will be staying. By speaking via email, Skype, and social networks, young people can get to know their partners too so that they know what to expect before arriving.

What to expect from your Kinder Exchange

If you’ve never done it before, the process of organising your exchange might seem like a mammoth task; and the idea of finding the perfect family and location – nigh on impossible! This is why we try to make your planning your exchange as simple as possible by taking on some of the legwork ourselves and supporting you every step of the way! Here’s what you can expect when you join the #Kinderexchange community…

organising your exchangeQuestions, questions, and even more questions!
Don’t worry, it’s not a test! Our aim is to find you an exchange partner who will become a friend for life! To do this, we’ll be asking you lots of questions in an informal interview before matching you up. Give some thought to what you want to get out of the experience, where you want to go, what you enjoy and what type of people you get on with. This will help us to find you the most compatible partner possible! We’ll also be asking for you to send us some photos of you, your family, and where you live to give your exchange partner an idea of what you’re like, so we love to receive photos where your personality is really shining through!

References
We understand that going to stay with a family that you’ve never met before can be daunting. For extra assurance that you are in safe hands, we ask for two references for each family involved in the exchange. This reference must be from someone who isn’t related to you and has known your family well for a long time.

Sit back and relax!
We really do mean it! As we do all of the searching for you, your next step is to breathe easy whilst we search our database for your perfect exchange partner. Once we’ve found them, we’ll send out the your profiles to the other family, and their profile to you and if everyone’s happy you can start getting to know one-another!

Over to you!
Once you’ve been matched up, it’s time to get to know your exchange partner and their family and start preparing for your cultural adventure! Make sure to talk to your partner and their family about the logistics of your trip, such as the length of the visit; arrival times and meeting points; dietary requirements; and house rules. It’s also worth doing some research about the local area (you could ask your partner about this) so that you know what to expect and how to respect the local culture. Finally, we advise all exchange students to take a gift for their host family, this might be a game, something that represents your culture, or even food! More detail on our  Guideline

Remember: if you have any questions or worries, you can always contact your country’s Kinder Exchange partner who will be happy to answer any of your queries!

Written by Hati Whiteley for Kinder Exchange.

How to become bilingual ?

Knowledge of a second language has become increasingly important for both personal and professional growth. Whether you are working for a multinational company or simply enjoy traveling and long to immerse yourself in different cultures, being bilingual offers a breadth of advantages. Celebrities like Bradley Cooper and Johny Depp, both speak French, and Leonardo di Caprio is fluent in German. Similarly, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow perfected their Spanish skills as students living with local families of South America and Spain. If your dream is to be bilingual like these stars, read on – you are in the right place!

Different ways to learn a new language :
Bilingual schools are becoming an inaccessible dream to many parents as they become increasingly selective and costly. As a result, many parents have been forced to improvise, seeking out creative alternatives for ensuring their children learn a second language. Fortunately, many user-friendly apps and online language courses such as Rosetta Stone or « Ingles sin Bareras » offer effective means for learning a new language. Additionally, some parents have found success in recruiting a bilingual nanny or au pair while others have turned to summer camps or afterschool lessons.

bilingualLiving with A foreign partner
Multinational households can ensure their children are raised bilingual by implementing the « One Parent One Language » (OPOL) method. This practice calls for each parent to speak solely their native tongue when conversing with their child, providing a solid base for the child’s continuous learning and understanding of both languages. It’s important to note that OPOL must be implemented in the household early in the child’s development to avoid confusion. To learn more about this method, visit the Multilingual Children Association.

Learn with a reciprocal language exchange program
One of the most successful methods for learning a second language is full language immersions through a reciprocal language exchange program. These programs offer the chance for your child to live abroad and communicate daily with local, native speakers. Living abroad with a local host family allows participants to discover different cultures, traditions and people. The reciprocal nature of these program also offers parents an enriching experience as they open their doors to a child from a different background, country and culture. The experience has proven to broaden horizons for both families and instills in children valuable skills needed for adapting to new and unfamiliar experiences with ease. Participation in language exchange programs can begin at any age and children over the age of 11 can travel on most airlines unaccompanied.
Kinder Exchange facilitates language exchange programs with unparalleled ease and convenience. If you and your family are interested in learning new languages and connecting with individuals from across the globe, simply follow the instructions to take the first step in what is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Written by Marko Manojlovic for Kinder Exchange