When I was 15 I was fortunate enough to head to the south of Spain on a foreign exchange, it was an experience that made me want to pursue the knowledge that could allow me to speak a second language and it was my first true introduction into a new culture. Foreign exchanges differ greatly from a simple trip away, I’d been to the south of Spain before on vacations but never been involved in the Spanish culture the same way that I was on my exchange. Staying with a family, learning their ways of life, their likes, dislikes, traditions, it was an eye opening experience that gave me masses of confidence and knowledge.
It is now my turn to be the parent that sends their child on the exchange and calling on my previous experience, I was fully ready to prepare my child in the right way for their upcoming trip. If you have a child who will be embarking on a foreign exchange then here are a few tips for how to get them thoroughly prepared.
Ensuring They Have the Money
The host family may well pay for a lot of your child’s food and activities whilst they are away but you shouldn’t rely on this. Make sure that your child has enough money for their time away, give some to their teacher if you feel that your child can’t sensibly manage it. Have a chat with your child about the money, just to make sure that they aren’t reckless with their cash, you want them to have fun but not blow their money in the first few days on things that they don’t need to.
How to Stay in Touch
Staying in touch whilst your child is away will be important for them, even just to know how they can do it, getting away like this is a scary experience and it will be comforting for them to know how they can get in touch any time they like. Back in my day we had to rely on telephone exchanges but these days a mobile phone can provide all fro your child. You can keep their credit topped up from back home using a site like www.recharge.com and they can use wi-fi to call, video call or message you whenever they like.
Mentally Preparing Them
It is important that your child knows that their upcoming adventure is still a learning experience and that they should not only but fully open to new ideas and cultures but also to learning more about the language and traditions. You want your child to really take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and it is important that they have some expectations in their mind about what will happen, no matter how right or wrong these may be. You don’t need to lay anything heavy on your child, just have a chat with them about what kind of experience they are hoping for and how they’ve thought about approaching it.