Advantages of being an Exchange student

4. února 2009 v 23:39 | Martin
There are many advantages of being an exchange student and it would take a long time to cover them all, but this article is about the conversational and social advantages that every exchagne has, no matter what her/his personality is.

Being an exchange student in a different country means to have a purpose for everything you do. It is absolutely clear why you have come and what you should do. No one can ask why you are taking these pictures, why you want to see all the school clubs and sports, nor can they ask why you always stand up when new somewhere and tell others about you. You are an exchange student, you dont know anyone and you have to make friends. No one can make fun of you when you ask to be taken to a party or helped with something. There is you, and then the rest of the world (well, maybe this is too exaggerated, but if you are the only exchange student in your area it almost seem to be so). And Americans are absolutely great about it. I had never imagined how interested the would be and how many question they would have till I came and tried it.
The first few days after starting going to school are maybe the most important. You need to make everyone aware that someone new has come and that there is going to be a lot of fun with you. The best way how to make this clear quickly is to overcome your fear and at the first day stand up in every class and "present" yourselves. I usually improvized, but I always had at least few points I was sure to include - some tong-twister (trista tricet tri stribrnych strikacek..), gas 6 dollars per gallon and that in spite of the fact this program is called "exchange", no one has gone to Czech because no one speaks the language. That almost always caused laughter, specially after they had heard that tong-twister.
Speaking in front of people has always been something cool and when you can do it, everyone wants to talk to you after class. That is the whole point - you have to make people want to talk to you by presenting yourself well. It is cruel but no one wants to talk to a total outsider. Again, speaking is much easier for you as an Exchange than it would be in Czech. You are not expected to speak perfect English anyway and besides all Americans love the Czech accent.
The worst thing you can do is dont talk at all and just study and do homework.

One of my american friends even suggested I should be going around and kissing girls, telling them that that is the way how we do it in Czech, and then pretending to be suprised to hear it is not the same here. I havent done that (though I sometimes thought about it:) but it proves that you, as a foreign person, can do much more without being looked at as at some idiot or social outsider. To realize this is all you need in order to become a popular and self confident person, who can get from his/her one year in different country the most.
There is only one problem - it is easier said than done. I have been working on putting my theory into a real life since I came and it is not always easy. In others articles I often spoke kind of highly about myself, and so not to make it look like I am boasting, here is one of my worst experience with trying to take an advantage of being an exchange student.

It all started back in September, when I was still staying with my first family (well, second, but first in Baltimore). By that time I had run out of all my converstation questions and was in desperate need for some more. At school it was ok, it seems that as long as you are interested in others they are interested in you, and besides there are always words like "dingleberry" for guys and "love" for girls, which can keep one going at a high school for ever. But it was worse with my family and they definitely did not try to improve it. To everything I told them they replied they knew it already and their answers to my questions were short, without the smallest sign of interest.
At that time I rode a school bus to school every morning. The station I went to was the first in order, and because there were only few of us, everyone could chose his place to sit. Our bus driver, an older woman, was one of the strangest persons I had ever met. It was said she had gone crazy since the death of her husband few years ago, and there was definitely something true about it. She kept changing the time of her arrival, so everyone had to be there early or risking the missing the bus. She looked always angry and never replied to my hello. But the funniest thing was that she sometimes started yelling at us: "sit down! SIT DOWN!" even though no one was standing. The day came when another "Sit down SIT DOWN!" echoed through the bus and when I looked up, I found - to my great suprise - that she was looking at me. I was sitting as fast as ever and so I didnt pay much attantion to her. But at that moment two thoughts came to me. The first was how on earth a women like this, obviously unable to recognize standing person from sitting, could be driving a school bus. The second thought was what a women like this could possibly be doing when not driving a bus. The second one became my new conversational question.
After I had used it several times at school, with more or less success, I tried it on my host mom. It was during dinner time and it looked like a great opportuninity for starting a wonderful family talk.

"I just thought about what those bus drivers from school do after they are done with driving kids home"
Even before I had finished I knew this was not gonna make an exciting chat. For some reason it sounded even more stupid than it used to when I said it eslwhere, only at that moment I couldnt find out why. She looked at me in total disbelieve and asked "What the heck, do you ALWAYS ask the exactly same questions twice? We have already been over this and I told you I didnt know." Wow. There I stood, almost 18 by that time, asking the same idiotic bus question over and over even though I didnt give a shit about it, and wondering what on earth I would say next. Suddenly I remembered asking her before. It had failed also - this topic just seemed not to be the conversational one and therefore easy to forget. In fact, when I am thinking about it now, it is hard to imagine anything I would care less about than the school bus drivers and their afternoons. After that, a massive silence lay over the rest of our dinner and in spite of several attempts of mine (all of them rather feeble-minded) we definitely werent a chatty party.

I think this is a good example of a badly prepared conversational question. It is stupid, there is nothing to be said to it and it makes you look like an eager, but totally simple headed person who is real fun to have around. And when you happen to ask the same person a questions like this more than once, you show that not only is your spiritual part on an uncertain level, but also that you either dont care what the other person's answer is or your memory is not strong enough even to remember you have already asked this. And, believe me, it is hard to get rid of image like that afterwards.
So my advice to all of you is to prepare conversational questions, but chose them carefully and dont forget who you have asked. And dont get satisfied with just a couple and then repeating it, be creative and make a lot of them. It must be fun to answer it!

It just came to me that I never found out what the bus drivers actually do after the school is over..It is almost like some mystery - I have asked tons of people and no one knew..But I think I can guess it. After the last kid has got out, they go and drive their buses over the green hills and acros the sunny fields till they find a nice spot to park. There they sit down, in the shadow of a great oak tree, and remain sitting as motionless and still as possible for the rest of the day, enjoying themselves till the next morning comes... The End.


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1 Verča Verča | E-mail | 25. června 2009 v 22:03 | Reagovat

Ahoj, mas uplne uzasny clanky, casto je ctu, navic se mi hrozne libi ze stridas anglictinu a cestinu a i u tohohle jsem se fakt nasmala, je to skvelej napad s tema otazkama, akorat me takovy moc casto nenapadaj :D
Jinak me je 15 a chystam se za rok taky na vymenej pobyt do USA, hrozne se tam tesim a hrozne se toho bojim... Takze diky moc, ze sem pises, skvele se to cte a urcite mi to moc pomaha.

Taky se chci zeptat, jestli neznas nekoho kdo jel na vymenej pobyt s nakou nemoci, konkretne s cukrovkou, mam ji uz dlouho a dobre kompenzovanou ale stejne se bojim aby to nebyl problem....

Jeste jednou diky, Verca

2 Martin Martin | 26. června 2009 v 11:50 | Reagovat

Ahoj Verco,
s tou nemoci nevim, nejvic bych ti doporucoval se zeptat ruznych organizaci co studenty vysilaji, ti by o tom mohli vedet a mohli by ti dat kontakt na nekoho. Zas takovej problem by to podle me byt nemel.

Jo a dik za pochvalu! :)

3 Pamela30Brooks Pamela30Brooks | E-mail | Web | 3. března 2012 v 12:46 | Reagovat

I received 1 st <a href="">personal loans</a> when I was 20 and it supported my business very much. Nevertheless, I require the college loan over again.

4 Oskar Oskar | E-mail | 27. června 2014 v 20:17 | Reagovat

Ahoj, chtěl jsem se zeptat, jak jsi to udělal s tím představováním před třídami ? Předpokládám, že jsi nešel do každé třídy ve škole... Vzhledem k množství, tak nevím kolik by to zabralo času.. :D

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