Growing up I always thought it would be cool to host someone from a different country. While I never got to, I knew people that did, like my neighbor family next door. When I was in high school, a girl from India named, Succhi, stayed for the winter semester and I remember hanging out with her and going sledding. A different year, a girl from France (I can’t remember her name now) stayed with my neighbors. It was so funny because I had hung out with her so much that I started to develop a french accent! I remember thinking that she was so cool and I found her culture to be fascinating.
Then when I got to high school, a girl from Switzerland was living with a girl in my grade and her family. She stayed in America and went to our school for a year. She would show me pictures of Switzerland which I found incredibly beautiful. It was those moments that reminded me of how much I love traveling, people, and their cultures!
So you might be wondering, what’s it even like to study abroad in America and live with a host family? It can be kinda scary, especially because it won’t be your own family, but let me reassure you that the family you stay with will be warm and welcoming! They will treat you like one of their own, take care of you and any need you have. If you’re concerned or worried about something, they want to help! In the beginning of the stay you may have trouble with the cultural differences, so don’t be afraid to ask them lots of questions!
When it comes to school life in America, they all vary a little bit. Schools generally break down into three parts: kindergarten to fifth grade is elementary school, sixth to eighth grade is middle school, and ninth to twelfth is high school. Depending on your age and the school, you’ll end up in one of these. School days go from about 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. I always loved high school because I got out at 2:15!
American schools have a range of classes like Math, Science, English, Gym, and Social Studies. But they also offer what they call electives where students get to choose classes of interest like Art, Music (Band or Choir), Woodworking, Cooking, Creative Writing, Debate, Drama & Theater, Automotive, Languages, and more. There would also be after school activities such as sport team practices (ranging from soccer, football, tennis, field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, softball, swimming, wrestling, track & cross country, volleyball, etc.) to academic or service clubs. The chance you will be able to find something to plug your talent(s) into is big!
During the school year, American kids get holidays off like Christmas, Easter, and other random days of importance like Presidents’ day. In the Spring they get a full week off called “Spring Break” for no specific reason and many families go on vacation to warmer places like Florida or California. It is common for people to spend vacation on beaches, go to amusement parks, National or State Parks, or visit family that lives elsewhere. This is an exciting time for people who study here in America because you get to see more of the U.S.! This is especially true if you are here for the summer, when many vacations happen!
*Italian translation by Karen Vecchini, Vice President of ultimateXchange, Italy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Esther is a 20-year-old American from New York who lives and studies at college in the U.S. She is currently studying Linguistics and Spanish with a TESOL minor. In her free time she likes to volunteer by tutoring Spanish speaking people who want to learn English, go on spontaneous adventures, and involve herself in various college activities.
Outside her academic life, Esther blogs for ultimateXchange on topics related to the news and events of ultimateXchange and her own personal, adventurous life. Since traveling to Italy and meeting the founders of ultimateXchange, she has embraced her huge enthusiasm for studying abroad and experiencing different cultures through writing on the blog.
Follow Esther on Instagram @esther.louise to keep up with her crazy but adventurous college life.