Support for Adolesco from Teachers and Study Abroad Professionals

Fifteen-year old Kinri Watson just returned from living in France for the summer as part of her Adolesco exchange.

“It’s really weird, like you’re two different people,” she says of her stay more than a year after hosting her French exchange “sister” Maelys in May 2015. “I also got to know a completely different Maelys!”

Kinri is a 10th grader at the Denver Center for International Studies (DCIS), where Geri Badler is the director of the Travel Center. Geri promotes Adolesco because she “loves the idea of the family-to-family exchange. It is personal and meaningful. I feel the Adolesco students that come here are well vetted, smart, and open to learning and sharing.”

It is typically adults like Geri with personal exchange experience who are the biggest advocates of foreign exchange programs. “I know the importance of cross-cultural exchanges and how rich an experience this can be, as well as the fact it is simply life changing” she says.

Ben Lev, who teaches Spanish at Credo High School in Rohnert Park, California, also wholeheartedly recommends Adolesco to his students. Ben does a little whiteboard math for his Spanish II class, “If you’re in my classroom for an hour a week for three years, that’s about 600 hours of Spanish. If you spend three months in Spain, that’s more than 1300 hours of Spanish – it’s like six years in the classroom – in three months!”

Because the travel and hosting periods of an Adolesco exchange are determined by the two families involved, children and teens can gain international experience without losing school time. Sometimes families will host one summer, and then send their child to travel the next, although not all Adolesco exchanges happen during the summer break.

“My exchange sister really wanted to come to school in the US,” says Kinri. “When I asked her why it turned out she wanted to see if the cafeteria is like in the movies, and she wanted to ride a yellow school bus!”

We sincerely appreciate the support of teachers and travel advisors who are willing to share our program with their students. Perhaps your school would be interested to learn more about Adolesco – contact us today!

I’ve been matched! Now what!?

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Twice a year, we have the fun of delivering great news to lots of candidates and their families: you’ve been matched! It’s an exciting time and hopefully the beginning of a great friendship and amazing exchange experience – but first, there’s work to do. Read on to understand what to do over the next days and weeks:

Review the application of your proposed match.

1. Each family will receive the application materials of the proposed match.  Please read all of it carefully.  For translation help, try wordreference.com or reverso.net, or perhaps a friend or teacher can help.  Remember that the applications are very similar from one country to the next, so you can refer to your own application to understand which question is being answered.

2. Discuss the proposed match with the entire family.  Although your child will be the one to travel, hosting is a family project.  Make sure everyone’s on board.

3. If you have particular questions, don’t hesitate to discuss the match with your representative.  They may be able to help, and can also check in with the foreign representative for clarification.

4. Let your Exchange Coordinator/Representative know within 7 days whether you accept or decline the proposed match.  This deadline is firm: if we don’t hear from you, we’ll assume you have declined the match.

When you’ve accepted the proposed match:

1. Pay the exchange deposit and sign the exchange contract.  If an exchange is cancelled before either child travels, the deposit will be refunded.

2. Your Adolesco representative will provide you with two very important documents: the Welcome and Departure packs for the parents and the candidate.  You must read these guides before communicating with the other family.

3. Once the contracts are signed (on both sides), the deposits paid (on both sides), and the Welcome and Departure packs read (on both sides), your representative will let you know it’s time to contact the exchange partner and family and start to make plans.  Please do not contact the other family ahead of time – it only adds confusion to the entire process.

If you decline the proposed match, it is sometimes possible that another match will be offered in the current cycle.  In most cases, your child’s application will be carried forward to the next match.

We strongly believe learning a new language, understanding another culture, and growing beyond our cultural boundaries benefits our children, our families, and our world.  The match is an exciting and important part of the entire exchange experience.  We are thrilled to offer your child and your family this opportunity and look forward to hearing about your exchange adventure in the months and years to come!

Ten Tips for a Successful Time Abroad from Adolesco

Check out our tips for a great time while abroad on your Adolesco exchange. Whether you’ve hosted already or your exchange is about to begin, it’s a good idea to think over the challenge and adventure ahead so you can get the most out of this great opportunity.

  1. Plan ahead. Expect that you’ll feel a little lost (and tired) during much of the first week.  By the second week things will seem slightly more familiar and you’ll begin to understand a few words, and after the third week you’ll be much more settled and understanding a lot more of what’s being said around you. Block those dates out on a mini-calendar or a sticky note – you won’t be shocked and surprised when you’re exhausted and thinking, “This will never work!” on day 5, and by the time a month has gone by, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come!
  2. Participate. As much as you might like to hide under the covers and text with friends at home – don’t! The only way for it to get better is to dig in and do the hard work. Remember that it will pay off with weeks of ease and fun. So go find your exchange partner and play Uno – if nothing else, you’ll learn numbers and color names and likely a new international version of the game.
  3. Give yourself a break. Go easy on yourself. No one learns a second language in two days – and everyone eventually makes progress – we promise. But it’s hard to be happy when someone (you) is giving you a hard time. Smile and tell yourself everything’s going to be fine!
  4. Give everyone else a break, too. Things are weird for your exchange partner and family, too. A new person in the house always adds a little stress. They want you to be happy but might not be sure of the best way to help you – so smile (even if you don’t feel like it) and remember they’re doing their best, too.
  5. Stay busy. You’re more likely to worry about what you’re missing at home if you’re sitting around. Don’t. Make sure to join in with something that’s going on around you – even if it’s not ‘your thing’. Maybe it will become your thing!
  6. Speak. Out loud. Really.  As much as you might wish you could perfect everything you want to say in your head before you say it out loud – you can’t. The only way to learn to speak a new language is to, well, speak it. And you’re going to make mistakes. Jump into that mess with both feet, because the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll learn how to do it right.
  7. Sleep. Eat. Repeat. Remember to take care of yourself, especially at the beginning. You’ll be tired and jet-lagged and sleeping and eating on schedule are the best cure. Do your best to match the (new) schedule as quickly as possible, but if you need an extra 30 minute nap here or there, go for it. Being extra tired and hungry never did anyone any good – so get your zzz’s and ask for a snack if you need one.
  8. Enjoy New Experiences. Forget what you know and what you’re used to. Try something new at each meal – even if you think you won’t like it, you might. Try a new activity or a new way of looking at things: immerse yourself in the new life experience as much as the new language – you’ll feel like a real part of the family all the sooner when you do.
  9. Take pictures. (or let other people take pictures of you). Two or three months may seem like a long time (especially at the beginning) but it will actually go by in a heartbeat once you get adjusted. You’ll want to remember the fun, and your parents definitely want to see photos, so smile for the camera whenever the opportunity arises.
  10. Have fun. As educational and life-changing as your exchange experience will be – it’s also supposed to be fun. Play, laugh, smile, and enjoy the amazing opportunity you’ve been given along with all the wonders of another city, language, family life, and culture!

Check out Chloe’s interview on GoAbroad.com!

American Adolesco exchange alumna Chloe shares some thoughts about her experience in France in an interview featured on GoAbroad.com.

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What do you feel the biggest benefit of traveling abroad is?

“The experience. I was exposed to so many interesting things while I was there, things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to see or do otherwise.”

What was the biggest thing that you learned from your exchange program experience?

“It’s given me a foundation in French. I’m not fluent, but I’m able to carry on a conversation fairly easily. And, because French and Spanish are so similar, it’s helped me in my Spanish classes back home! It’s what’s gotten me interested in languages as a whole.”

Would you recommend Adolesco to others?

“I would definitely recommend Adolesco to anyone who’s interested in learning a new language. It’s a wonderful experience and I’m really glad I did it.”

Read Chloe’s full interview here: http://www.goabroad.com/interviews/chloe-miller-2014-program-participant