Month: October 2019

Should You Send Your Child on a Foreign Exchange Program?

Should You Send Your Child on a Foreign Exchange Program?

During my oldest son’s last year of middle school, we started planning on which high school he wanted to attend. He didn’t go to private school, but there were several academies available (11 in total). Learning new languages and studying different cultures in the world was something that he was passionate about. With that being said, he decided on the Global Studies and World Languages Academy, and was accepted into their program.

A week before he began his Freshman year of high school there was an information session on the academy’s expectations. At the end of the session, a current senior got up and spoke about his experience with the school, and how he participated in a foreign exchange program. At that moment, I remember internally freaking. I was thinking that there was absolutely no way that I was going to send my almost 15-year-old off to another country to live temporarily with a family that I didn’t know. It just wasn’t going to happen.

A few months later our son came home from school explaining to his father and I that there were scholarships available for a summer exchange program in Japan. He was taking Japanese in school, and a coordinator from Youth For Understanding came in to talk to them about it. We wanted our children to experience the world, so I didn’t want to hold him back. We told him to go ahead and complete the application process, and I did some research to ease my mind.

I believe it was around April when I found a packet in the mail addressed to my son from Youth For Understanding. I was so nervous (but in a good way) about whether or not he earned the scholarship. I couldn’t wait to pick him up from school to hand him the envelope. It was the news he had been waiting for, he got accepted and was going to stay with a family in Japan for 6 weeks! My husband and I were so proud and excited for him!

I wanted to write this post to help ease other parent’s minds about giving their child an experience of a lifetime. Here are the reasons that I recommend allowing your child to study abroad for either a summer or year:

Learn Cultural Differences

They get to experience the values, beliefs, and lifestyle of a family from another culture. It gives them an open mind to learn that “their way” isn’t the “only way” in life, and that it doesn’t make it wrong or right. Their experience allows them to educate their peers on the acceptance of cultural differences.

Experience New Foods

They get to experience all of the different foods from another country. Being from America, our son couldn’t get over how small the serving sizes were in Japan, or I suppose how big the serving sizes are in our country. He absolutely loved the cuisine in Japan and missed a lot of it when he returned home.

Develop Independence

It gives them a chance to be independent. I want to address that while I was nervous about sending my child to stay with people I didn’t know, it had nothing to do with him exploring another country. His father and I were more nervous about him losing his check card, passport, or other important documents. He was barely 15 when he left for his exchange program. Guess what? He didn’t lose a thing and he came back a more independent young man because of his experience.

Establish New Relationships

They get to meet amazing people that embrace them as part of the family. We are extremely grateful that our son’s host family wanted to share all that they could with him during his 6-week visit. Not just about their family, but about the beauty of their country as well. The sole purpose of an exchange program is to be a part of a family to learn about and understand their culture. Host families are not required (or supposed) to treat your child like they are on vacation. We truly appreciated all that his host family did for him out of the kindness of their heart.

The relationship that they develop with their host family can last throughout their life. Several years after our son graduated from high school, his host family contacted him and wanted him to join them on a trip to New York. He was extremely excited, and enjoyed showing them around and helping them translate English.

Explore a New School

He also got the chance to attend school in Japan. By doing so he was able to learn about the different teaching styles compared to his home country. He also got to interact with many students close to his age.

A Once in a Life Time Experience

It’s a once in a lifetime experience. As adults we always have the opportunity to travel around the world; but not in a way where you get to be a part of a family, and truly embrace the culture with the people that live there.

Promotes Cultural Curiosity

It opens their eyes to wanting to explore more of the world. The year after he returned from Japan he applied for another scholarship with a different exchange program, and was awarded a 2-week trip to South Korea, which he visited during the summer of his Sophomore year of high school. During his Senior year of his undergrad studies, he completed a semester in Spain and also visited many places along the way (London, Morocco, Iceland). While my husband and I have not been to Japan, Korea, or Spain (and we are a little jealous), he has taught us a lot about his experiences. His influences even caused us to share our culture with others as well, and we have hosted students from Japan and Denmark.

Our Recommendation

Giving our son the opportunity to explore other cultures has been one of the best decisions that we have made. We don’t have any regrets whatsoever, and we highly recommend using Youth For Understanding to find a foreign exchange program that interests your child. If you are considering sending your child on a foreign exchange program and have any questions, please post them in the comments below.

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Where to Stay in the Outer Banks, NC

Where to Stay in the Outer Banks, NC

This is a must-read post if you are searching for a place to stay in the Outer Banks. When choosing a place to stay, I have a few requirements: cleanliness, décor, and closeness to attractions. The location that I am about to share with you covers just that and then some. I have used many of the descriptions from the rental homes web page, so that I can keep the description as accurate as possible. You can view this page at https://seasaltcottageobx.com/

The House

Sea Salt cottage is located at the 16.5 milepost on the beach road in Nags Head, North Carolina. The location is magically situated directly across from the beach and just a block or so from the Sound to the west. You can literally walk to the beach!

This home has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths (it sleeps up to 8 people). The large master bedroom and full bath is furnished with a plush, comfortable king bed and is tucked away on the first floor of the home. There is also a sitting area in the master bedroom for beach reading or watching TV.

Two other bedrooms invite guests to relax and get their summer on! The queen-bed bedroom is a boho-chic inspired mid-century modern beachy oasis. The third bedroom is a bright, fun bunkroom that provides maximum sleeping flexibility for up to 4 people with custom-built in beds – one a built-in full-sized and the other a built-in bunkbed. It’s designed for kids AND adults to enjoy. A second full bath and a laundry closet with full sized high-efficiency washer/dryer complete the second floor. All bedrooms are equipped with flat screen TVs, digital cable and DVD players. You’ll be fully connected throughout the home with high-speed WIFI.

The third floor of Sea Salt Cottage provides plenty of seating and a large flat screen TV. The deck off the living area is a great place to sit in the evenings and take in the stunning sunset over the sound. The kitchen is fully stocked and includes stainless steel appliances and a full size dishwasher. There’s a Keurig and traditional coffeemaker for the coffee lovers! The dining area offers table seating and bar stools for more casual meals.

One thing that this beach rental offers that many don’t is a spacious back yard with your own private pool! The owners truly make sure that you are covered with everything you need for the outdoors: beach chairs, beach cart, boogie boards, grill, cornhole boards, and a giant Jenga game! Did I mention that you can WALK to the beach?

Nearby Attractions/Restaurants

As mentioned above, I love a rental home that is within close proximity to restaurants and attractions. The following places are within walking distance: The beach, Jockey’s Ridge (7 minutes), Oregan Inlet Fishing Center (15 minutes), Manteo (5 minutes), Cahoon’s Supermarket, 7/11, Sam & Omie’s Restaurant, Owen’s Restaurant, Super Wings for souvenirs, Tangier Outlets, and much more!

Additional Information

The owners of Sea Salt Cottage have really thought of everything when it comes to providing a comfortable stay for their guests. Upon arrival you will receive a welcome bag with many complimentary goodies such as trashbags, detergent, dish scrubbies, a couple rolls of toilet paper and many other items you may have forgotten to bring to get you through your stay.

My Final Thought

Sea Salt Cottage is definitely where I would love to stay each and every time I visit Nags Head, NC. It is extremely clean, can provide a place for me and 7 other friends/family to vacation, the décor is like no other, you can walk to many locations, and the owners truly care about their guests.

I am not the only one who feels this way about Sea Salt Cottage and know that summer dates book extremely fast! If this is a place that you may want to stay during your Outer Banks vacation, I would highly recommend reserving your dates no later than November/December. Here is a link to explore this rental home’s availability: http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/9156570/type/dlg/https://www.vrbo.com/752041?arrival=2020-06-11&departure=2020-06-14&childrenCount=2&adultsCount=2

The majority of pictures used in this post are from the Sea Salt Cottage website

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever been to Nags Head, NC. What do you love most about the Outer Banks? Is there a particular activity that your family likes to do or a favorite restaurant that you like to dine at?

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