What high school experience is overrated?

So close yet so far

Student exchange in the age of social media

NO. 7/2017, p. 17

Breaking up to let go - this is not always easy with modern technical possibilities. Anyone who spends a school year abroad today is practically never alone. Continents are just a click away, and you can quickly surf the World Wide Web across the ocean. WhatsApp, Facetime, Snapchat, Skype and Co. make it easier to be separated from home, but at the same time represent a new challenge for exchange students and their parents. How much closeness makes sense and how can the new possibilities be exploited to everyone's satisfaction? Tasja Frenzel, Head of the International School Programs at Carl Duisberg Centren, has tips for future globetrotters:

A little curiosity is allowed

Googling the new family and using Street View to get to know the area and where you live? As soon as the destination and the host family have been determined, the curiosity is simply there. Just a few clicks away, a picture of the new home is created on the computer. But there should be room for real experience. Therefore, do not make quick judgments. Seen up close, a lot is put into perspective later. And a little bit of adventure is allowed.

Get in contact online

Initial contact via social media is helpful in order to “sniff” the host family a little. This breaks down inhibitions in advance, but it should not be overrated if everything does not seem to suit you at first glance or if you are lacking in words. In addition, American host families in particular are often less eager to write in advance than the German host students and parents; so do not take it personally if the mailbox is not always full.

Share and communicate news

Exciting and new things happen every day in an exchange. Those who like to share them with family and friends will find endless possibilities on the Internet. Whether WhatsApp, Instagram, Youtube channel or blog, today there are many ways to communicate remotely. Therefore inform and consider beforehand which channels make sense and who wants to use them together. To be on the safe side, dampen the hopes of family and friends for too many personal messages in advance. The rule here is: Less time on the PC means more time in the host country!

Take care of netiquette

Good manners are also in demand on the internet. It is worthwhile to observe the customs from the real world when making your own virtual appearance. Images that show alcohol consumption, shameful situations or too much partying have no place on Facebook or other social networks. Gossip about the host family or the country the pupil is going to visit should also be avoided in any case - including on site. Something like this can not only cast a bad image of the future globetrotter, it can also mean the end of an exchange before it has even started.

Switch off sometimes

"I'll be gone then ..." that used to be the case. A letter was on its way for a long time, and telephoning was an expensive business. Today the other end of the world is just a push of a button away. However, emotional distance is still current and important today. Too many contacts at home cause homesickness and steal time for real life in the new home for a while. This is why the following applies: limit contacts at home on your own - even if it is difficult - and do not report daily. Less contact is often more and the distance gives you the chance to be more independent.

Every beginning is difficult

Especially at the beginning of a stay abroad, contact back home is tempting, and Skype with familiar faces is comforting. Therefore, young globetrotters should not put themselves under pressure and allow family support to a healthy extent, especially at the beginning. Everything takes time and as soon as the first new friends are made, Skype and Co. usually automatically lose their attractiveness.

Carl Duisberg Centers
0221-1626 396
[email protected]


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