Foreign Exchange Friday: Orienting Your Student To Your Home

A typical modern Japanese kitchen.

A typical modern Japanese kitchen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things new families may sometimes not think about is going over the workings of their home with their student.  Common household items such as washing machines, dryers, alarm systems and kitchen appliances may work very differently here.

It’s not a bad idea to show your student how to do simple household tasks such as using the washer and dryer (type/amount of detergent, water settings, fabric softener VS dryer sheets), the dishwasher (how you prefer it to be loaded, where to put the detergent) and using the stove/oven/microwave (remember that they are used to Celcius settings, not Fahrenheit).  If you have a garbage disposal, make sure they are aware of it, where it is and how to use it.  If you have different receptacles for garbage and recycling, make them aware of this as well.

If you have a security system or alarm set when you are not home, it’s wise to show your student how to operate it, especially if s/he is home from school before everyone else is home from work.

If your student is assigned simple chores around the home, such as keeping their bathroom clean or vacuuming their own bedroom, make sure they also know how to do this.  Show them where the cleaning supplies are and how to use them, as well as how to use the vacuum (on/off switches, etc.).  If they are responsible for taking out the garbage, make sure they know what day and time the collection is.

It may be helpful to print out or create a conversion chart from metric units to U.S. units and hang it somewhere, such as a family bulletin board or on the fridge, so that your student can have easy access to it, should they need it in the kitchen.  This will also be helpful in getting used to temperature differences as well, so they know how to appropriately dress for school.

Show them how to work the electronics in the home, discuss whether or not they should answer your landline phone and assist them with accessing ways to communicate with friends and family at home, as well as EF Foundation staff.  Get them connected to your Wi-Fi if they’ve brought a laptop, or show them your home computer.  While they may have a cell phone from home, it may or may not be functional here in the US and it may not be possible to get a SIM card that will work depending on the phone and country of origin.  If necessary, assist them with getting a Trac-Phone or pay-as-you-go phone; they are responsible for the costs, they will just need assistance in getting somewhere to purchase one and may need assistance in the store as well with questions or understanding options.

While these things may seem like common sense, remember that what is common to us may not be common to them.  They may or may not have the same chores at home, so the concept and carrying out of this may take some getting used to.  Remember that they are teenagers and put yourself in their shoes (or their parents’ 🙂 ).

Are there any other things that may be useful to add to this post?  What other types of differences might you run into?


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