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School Exchange Visits - tell me your child's good and bad ones please...

(16 Posts)
Gymbob Fri 08-Mar-13 19:25:53

DD2's French exchange partner is visiting us before she visits them. All well and good, I will have chance to meet the student, suss her and her family hopefully, and I already know they are professionals which eases the angst a bit.

DD1's Spanish exchange partner is housing her first in Spain. There lies my problem. I understand they don't vet potential hosts, I haven't been vetted to receive the French student. I have to pay a non refundable deposit by next week, and I don't know anything about the exchange household. They could be wierdos or anything couldn't they?! DD1 has special needs and is vulnerable. I know I can talk to the school and I will, but I heard some horror stories yesterday on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show. One DD stayed in a dirty house. In another house the father kept coming downstairs in his underwear.

I'm that close to saying sorry but you can't go.....

happygardening Fri 08-Mar-13 20:08:19

They might be weirdos but on the other hand they might be a delightful family who will do everything to make your DD welcome but these families don't make the Jeremy Vine show. My DS is also doing an exchange this year apperently his school work really hard to "match" students but I'm not sure how many eccentric disorganised slack parents who are not great at house work there are in his exchange country!!
I understand my DS's school has running exchanges to this particular country/town/school for many many years and it has always been a success. I understand that some of the families are dissimilar to the families of the boys at my DS's school but it still works very well.
Just think how anxious the parents of the child your going to have probably are ok they and you may be professionals as are we but IME professionals are not devoid of weirdos in fact often the complete opposite.
Be positive about the whole thing what a wonderful experience for both your DC's I'm sure they will have a great time hopefully improve her Spanish/French and be made very welcome by the family.

Leeds2 Fri 08-Mar-13 21:50:19

My DD went to Spain last summer, with a girl who had stayed with us for the previous week. I knew that DD would be fine, judging by how the girl was with us! I do know that the sister of one of DD's friends had refused to get on the coach to travel to the airport in a previous year, because she just simply couldn't stand another week with her partner! My DD was fine with her family, but enjoyed being with her school friends during the day.

Last October, she went to the US for two weeks on an exchange visit. It was arranged by her school, but she was the only one going so hadn't the comfort of being with familiar people during the visit. I was very apprehensive, but formed a very favourable impression of the family from email exchanges with the mum beforehand, and DD had an absolute whale of a time! She says she found it less worrying to go to a family that spoke English on her absolute own, than going to a family who didn't speak English albeit accompanied by classmates.

That said she enjoyed both experiences.

happygardening Fri 08-Mar-13 22:26:32

It must be hard to live for a week with a family who you basically don't know and who may not speak your language whether your from the UK going abroad or from abroad coming here. Even though you've obviously got your teachers/friends near by it must still be difficult and adapting to a different culture. We used to have au pairs and I admired their ability to walk into a weird unknown family often with a very limited grip on the lingo and adapt and manage. This is a very useful lesson for any child.

Moominmammacat Sun 10-Mar-13 15:17:14

We've had 11 exchanges ... three DSs, three languages ... and with the exception of nymphomaniac French girl, not a single problem. All good for confidence, communication skills and the speaking exam. Mildly expensive, entertaining them, and it's always good to get the spare room back, but overall a positive experience.

Bonsoir Sun 10-Mar-13 15:31:08

My DSS2 has been on exchanges with school to Canada (Y10 equivalent) and to Spain (Y11 equivalent). Both exchanges were super long standing arrangements with schools founded and run by the same Catholic congregation of nuns and teachers went too. DSS2 had a ball both times though he is easy to please!

sandripples Sun 10-Mar-13 18:06:31

DD did 7 exchanges in France and Germany- all varied and positive, as long as you and your DC realise they'll need to be a bit flexible. If there's any problem there'll be a teacher from yours school to speak to. Soem matches are better than others, but they're a great opportunity IMO.

Gymbob Mon 11-Mar-13 22:37:25

Thanks so much for your replies.

Happygardening - we are not professionals grin, we have mundane boring jobs that bring the bacon in. And fully aware that the professional sector have their fair share of wierdos!

Leeds2, what a well travelled young lady you have there, you must be very proud of her.

Moomcat - the nympho french girl sounds very intriguing...

Bonsoir - our school is also catholic and I assume from the literature they also have a long standing relationship with the exchange school. intend to look into this further, but it does reassure somewhat.

sandripples - 7 exchanges?! that's a lot - over how many years was that?

Have looked at a previous itinery today, and they left the school at midnight to travel to Stansted for a flight the next morning. They arrived at their destination at 1pm the following day. It all sounds nightmarish to me. DD needs TONS of sleep due to health condition. Don't know how she'll cope. I'm also worried about a Spanish family taking on a disabled child, and the extra work they'll have to put in. DD is unfazed by it all, and of course I wouldn't dream of relaying my fears to her, but I have gone through the itinery with her and she just said 'Phew, that will be tiring'.

horsemadmom Tue 12-Mar-13 09:57:43

My DCs have had super exchanges. DD1 is still in touch with her exchange from 2 yrs ago and is going off on another exchange in a fortnight. With facebook, they can really get to know the other child well before they meet in person. The family was absolutely wonderful to DD!
My only horror story was from my own teenage years. Despite being a family of girls, we were sent a teenage boy who we suspected was matched because he said that he liked riding. My sister and I were very excited to receive a nice letter and a photograph of a very dishy French boy.
Well, 'I like to ride horses' actually meant 'I sat on one once' which became apparent when we put him on our Thoroughbred mare. He didn't shower for the whole time he was with us and it was clear that he had learned almost no English so we gave up and all spoke French (I suspect that he was matched with us because we were the only bi-lingual family). On the plus side, we went to touristy places that you never get to if you live somewhere.

AgentProvocateur Tue 12-Mar-13 10:02:12

I have two DC who have exchanged with families in Germany, and as well as their exchange partners, I've also had a lone German for the three years after that when there weren't enough families from here doing the trip - so I've been a host family for five years, and everything has gone smoothly. It's a great experience.

imnotmymum Tue 12-Mar-13 10:03:27

My DD got back from her Spanish exchange a couple og weeks ago and it was great and a brilliant experience. They emailed/facebooked etc beforehand and will keep in touch they have invited her over the Summer hols to stay and all the families seemed nice that were involved go for it!!

Gymbob Wed 13-Mar-13 21:52:41

Thanks for more replies, all helps to steady the nerves of a neurotic mother!

Yes, thanks for reminding me about fb and how they can get to know each other first. I wonder if I can get to know the parents too, and maybe give them a questionaire to fill in on their habits, cleanliness, etc grin

It turns out though that this is not a super duper long standing arrangement with the other school - they have only done one before. Mmmm.

The teacher said they would match carefully with a family who can meet my DD's needs.

I do actually feel sick thinking about it all, what could go wrong, and how she (and more importantly ME) will cope with it.

imnotmymum Thu 14-Mar-13 12:56:27

If your DD not happy with pairing should ask to change my DD was paired with a boy and she was not going to go (do not ask me just 14 year olds I guess) we asked they swapped and all happy.

Copthallresident Thu 14-Mar-13 13:34:10

DDs school also tried to match applicants. DD had put reading down as one of her interests and so got a very geeky girl from Germany whose parents were incredibly strict. Girl and DD were not allowed ipods, to be out after 7pm, or to swim in the lake like all the others, three hours of church on Sunday , girl played trumpet in church . DD hated it but it was a fantastic experience IMHO .

I watched the shy timid girl blossom with a bit of attention and indulgence and she simply loved being able to do simple things like walk the dog along the river with DD on her own.

DD2 smoked gauloise by the Seine and stayed in beautiful flat with views of Paris, we still are in touch with the family, inspiring in terms of the language and culture but not half as useful experience in terms of making her experience I am not "the strictest mother in the world" grin

It is only a few days....

Copthallresident Thu 14-Mar-13 13:37:36

gymbob I emailed both families in advance, didn't detect the strictness of the parents, must have misread it as being involved.

But they were very very clean grin

deste Thu 14-Mar-13 19:06:22

We had a boy from Germany who was the same age as my son, he brought a gift to my son of a small Lego toy and got ready for school wearing a turtles bum bag and half mast trousers, he was 14. To say my son was mortified was being mild. My DD had an Austrian boy who was much better but when it came to return, none of them wanted to go.

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