You may never leave the country again
Participating in a foreign exchange program is an amazing experience for high school and college students alike. Young people from all over the world take flight every year to travel to distant lands and familiarize themselves with a new culture. Often, these exchange programs set participants up with a host family who is expected to house, feed, and teach the student about their lifestyle. Then again, not everyone signs up to host a foreign student with the best intentions. Apparently, letting a kid live in a room in exchange for money is lucrative when you don’t intend on following the rules!
The unfortunate students found out the hard way that there are flaws in the foreign exchange program that should be probably be looked at more carefully.
Get Out Now
Was a foreign exchange student in Central America. Host sister and I shared a room; she decided it was ok to take my clothes, smoke in our room, and hide the cigarettes in my drawers, then rat me out to her mom (my host mom) for breaking house rules. Host sister also demanded I hang out with her friends and got mad at me when I wasn’t “cool enough like an American should be.”
Host mom also got the crazy idea that I was trying to flirt with her husband and solicit him […] (which I did not), and blamed me for her husband going out and getting a mistress. They eventually contacted the foreign exchange program demanding I be removed from their house and placed elsewhere. It was a really weird few months. (twoblueshoes)
No Phones Allowed
I did an exchange to a small town in eastern Germany. I stayed with a very conservative husband and wife–no computer, the phone was ‘very expensive’ (even with my phone card, I was told) so I was allowed to briefly call my parents when I arrived to let them know I was ok and give them the host family’s phone number.
I didn’t hear from them for several weeks, and I was homesick and having a hard time. When I asked to use the phone, the family suggested I have my parents call instead because it would be cheaper. I walked to an internet cafe in town and sent an email.
The next day the host mom gave me the phone; it was my high school German teacher. She asked if I was ok and then put my mom on the line. Apparently my mom had tried calling several times, and when the host family heard English or her limited German, they just hung up and didn’t say anything to me. (rampant_parfait)
So last year I was on a high school exchange program in Russia. When I got there, I realized that my host parents didn’t really want or have the money for a host student, and they weren’t interested in learning about other cultures. The reason I had been taken on was because of my host sister, a girl who was 15, very shallow, and obsessed with boys and drinking. I figured that she was still young and hoped she’s grow out of it, and I figured that if I worked hard and tried to learn Russian my host parents would warm to me.
Halfway through the year, I had to start paying for food, which is totally against the rules. In a hotel-like situation it’s not bad, but when you are living in a family, it alienates you and makes you feel like a stranger in what is supposed to be your home, which is pretty hard.
Seven months in, I had to go home to the US for a month for a personal situation, and I found out that my host sister had stolen around $1000 from my credit card. I switched host families when I went back, and luckily my second host family was really great and I had a good time for the last three months. [deleted user]