Exchange Year 101

The American Experience

The 4th of July falls right in the in-between part of the exchange year — last year’s students have just gone home, and next year’s students are far away, still eagerly packing their suitcases. It’s a day where we can come together and celebrate our country’s history and the things that make us proud to be Americans. The hundreds of host families that open their homes every year to international exchange students are perfect examples. Their generosity and eagerness to share their culture and learn from others are exactly what we are celebrating when those fireworks go off tomorrow.

And even if they miss the parades and barbeques this weekend, our students have the opportunity for an even richer “American” experience. A whole year living with a host family and going to an American high school can give someone a lot to love — and laugh about! We recently asked our returning students: “What do you think is the biggest cultural difference between the United States and your home country?” In celebration of this 4th of July, we’d like to share what a few of them said…

patriotic1“The people. Americans are so nice and loving and caring. They will love you when they first meet you. And the difference: they will tell you! You just can’t help it but you feel loved right away. It is an amazing feeling.”
-Vivien from Germany

“Americans use a lot of small talk. In my country there’s no such a thing!”
-Emilia from Finland

“There are soo many more activities here. High school in Norway is purely academic. No sports, no band, no speech. I love the competition between schools.”
-Marius from Norway

“Americans are very encouraging to reach big dreams. They’re very friendly, and talk with everyone.”
-Saara from Finland

 patriotic4“I don’t have to wear uniform to school.”
-Chanakarn from Thailand

“Americans eat a lot of cheese!”
-Josefine from Denmark

“The word please and thank you is used as often as breathing!”
-Anna from Denmark

“I think the pledge of allegiance is the biggest difference, they show so much respect for their country.”
-Helene from Norway

patriotic2“Everything is bigger here (cars, road, houses, food…)”
-Lucie from France

“In the United States, people are more reserved and private, but still they are really kind and nice people.”
-Santiago from Colombia

“I know I have a lot of them but FOOD! The meals are eaten in different times and proportions!”
-Julia from Brazil

“I think school life is the most significant difference. Here students are always talking or questioning to the teacher and they have their own idea a lot.”
-Saya from Japan

“In America people have roots from all over the world, that is something we don’t have in the Netherlands. I find it very interesting to learn about that.”
-Veerle from the Netherlands

Have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend, everybody!! We can’t wait to welcome our next group of students to this beautiful place!