Foreign Exchange Friday: 2014 Winter Olympics

The Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics will be televised tonight.  The ceremonies are a great way to bring some cultural awareness to your home, as the hosting country (this year, Russia) will typically inject some of their own culture and traditions into the show.  Are you currently a host family?  Cheer on the home country of your exchange student!  Many of our EF High School Year countries compete.

Here are some fun facts about the 2014 Olympics:

  • This is the first Winter Olympics to be held in Russia.
  • Sochi is the warmest city to have served as host to the Winter Olympics.
  • 12 new events will be debuting at this year’s games.
  • 88 countries will compete in the games.
  • The 2014 games are the most expensive in Olympic history.

Want a fun activity to do with your kids during tonight’s Opening Ceremonies, try this Scavenger Hunt from Kid World Citizen.

I’m also proud to point out that EF is the Official Supplier of Language Training Services at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.  Our language partners trained about 70,000 athletes, volunteers and judges for the games.  If you’ve seen any arrival pictures, you may have seen the pink EF logo on the luggage carts.

Tune in tonight at 7:30 ET to watch the Opening Ceremonies!


5 Things to Watch in Sochi (
The Best Social Media Sources for the 2014 Winter Olympics (
It’s Upon Us!  5 Things to Know About the Sochi Olympics (
Why A Russian Beach Town Is Hosting the Winter Olympics (
A Taste of Russia:  Perogies, salad Olivier, herring, caviar and borscht (


Foreign Exchange Friday: EF Exchange Stories

Recently, EF Foundation for Foreign Study launched a new website ( and magazine (The Exchange) to share all the wonderful stories our exchange students and families have to offer, like this one:


You can also follow EF Foundation on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.





Share your great stories and pictures with us and you could be included in a future issue of The Exchange or even in one of our YouTube videos!




The Little Things (
Settled In (
Eyes Widened (
Intoxicating and Overwhelming (
as the romans do.  (


Welcome the New Year by welcoming a student!

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?  It’s not too late!  Why not resolve to welcome an exchange student into your family in the fall.  Your family will learn so much and you’ll help make a dream come true.

Here are just some of the terrific kids looking to come to the Northeast:

Daniëlle, 16, Switzerland

Daniëlle is a very positive, open-minded and interested student.  She is very motivated to make the most out of her high school year abroad and she is eager to improve her English to the best she can and get to know the American culture.  Daniëlle is also a very active girl and likes to be outside in the nature. She likes to do sports and is active in scouting during her free time.

Maximilian, 16, Germany

Max is one of those students that you just instantly like. He’s highly sporty and his passion is tennis. He has been playing for a long time and won several tournaments with it. He also loves to play any other kind of team sports, loves spending time with his family walking the dog and also simply playing soccer. He’s definitely an outdoorsy person; a highly likeable, open-minded, great guy!

Anika, 15, Germany

Anika just spent 3 months in a host family in France where she enjoyed herself lots. She makes a great impression and speaks English extremely well.

Marten, 16, Germany

Marten lived in the US for 2 years and wants to experience the school system on his own. In his free time he likes to play computer games and reads books. He is very sociable and ambitious. His brother is doing a high school year at the moment so Marten is aware what to expect while he is abroad.

Barbara, 16, Denmark

Barbara is a sweet and smiling girl. She has an overall great personality. She is reliable, likeable, and mature. She has many different interests such as horseback riding and dancing.  She is very close with her family and spends a lot of time with them. She is also very sociable and has many friends. She has lived abroad for 2 years with her parents, so she knows a little bit about living in another culture, but she is very excited to do it alone this time. She is excited about improving her English skills and make new friends as well.

Foreign Exchange Friday: Fall Fun in the Mid-Atlantic

Here are some fun fall and Halloween related events going on throughout Maryland, Delaware and the surrounding areas that families and students can check out!


Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve already picked out your pumpkins, learn how to carve it into a jack-o-lantern!

Want to more about why Americans celebrate Halloween?
If you know of some other Halloween or fall events going on around Delaware or Eastern Maryland, leave a comment!

Foreign Exchange Friday: Celebrating Homecoming in Delaware!

Last week was a big weekend for some of our students as they celebrated Homecoming around the First State!

Lena is dressed and ready for Homecoming at Delmar HS!

Lena is dressed and ready for Homecoming at Delmar HS!

Lena and her Host Mom, Mia.

Lena and her Host Mom, Mia.

Ra attended his first football game at Homecoming at the University of Delaware.

Ra attended his first football game at Homecoming at the University of Delaware.

Ra is ready for Homecoming at Appoquinimink HS.

Ra is ready for Homecoming at Appoquinimink HS.

Foreign Exchange Friday: Travel Options for Students

Geographic center of the contiguous United Sta...

Geographic center of the contiguous United States is located in United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EF offers safe, chaperoned tours of the US for our exchange students.  It’s a good time for students to look into this, as these tours fill up quickly!

Who can go on Discovery Tours?
In addition to EF exchange students, the trips are open to host siblings (ages 15-19) as well as any friends at school. EF students can travel on any tour within their host country. (Students living in the U.S. can go on the U.S. tours, students in the UK can go on the UK tours, and students in Ireland can go on the Ireland tours.)

What is the payment schedule?
For spring 2014 tours a $250 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking. The rest of the trip must be paid in full by 90 days before the trip departs. The regular deadline to sign up for the trip is also 90 days before departure; if you sign up after that point, you’ll have to pay a late fee.

U.S. Trip Options

The East Coast (8 Days):

See American history come to life and experience an amazingly diverse array of cultures on a trip to Boston, New York City and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

DC and New York City (5 Days):

From the stately national capital to the one and only Big Apple, experience two of America’s most iconic cities.

The California Coast (8 Days):

The country’s most populous state is a treasure of famous sights, beautiful scenery, and rich culture. See everything from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the stars of Hollywood.

L.A. and the Grand Canyon (8 days):

From Los Angeles to Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, experience glitz, glamour and nature at its most spectacular.

San Francisco (4 Days):

From Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge, discover why San Francisco is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.

Discover Florida (7 Days):

Visit Florida’s most beloved attractions, including Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and the scenic beaches of Fort Lauderdale.

Hawaii (7 Days):

Travel from the U.S. mainland to the tropical island paradise of Hawaii. Experience the alluring culture, rich history and natural beauty of America’s 50th state.

To book your trip, you can register online!

For questions about our EF Discovery Tours, call 1-800-634-8351 or email

Foreign Exchange Friday: Prospective Host Family FAQs

EF Foundation 2012_DSC9800

As a local coordinator who speaks to families about hosting exchange students, I find that there are certain questions I get quite often.   Today’s post will address some of those FAQs (or Frequently Asked Questions).

1.  Do host families get paid to host a student? 

Host families are not paid. According the United States Department of State, host families cannot receive financial gain from their participation in a student exchange program. This rule is designed to ensure that host families are participating in the program for the right reasons. However, in recognition of their role as citizen ambassadors, all host families are eligible to receive a charitable tax deduction on their tax return.

2.  Does the student need to have their own bedroom?  

No.  Students may share a room with a host sibling.  However, special permission may be required depending on the age of that sibling.

3.  What are the expectations of a host family? 

Families are expected to provide room and board to their student, as well as reasonable transportation to school or extracurricular events.  Families are also expected to include their student as a part of their family by including them in family trips, activities and meals, as well as typical household chores.  Students come to learn about typical American family life and families are expected to share this with their student.  In addition, students can share their culture and traditions with your family.

4.  Do we have to have other children of similar age to our student?  

No.  Many of our host families have no children, adult children or young children.  Some are single parents or same-sex parents.  Some special permissions may be required in certain situations, but we are open to all different types of families.

5.  What are the requirements of becoming a host family?  

All adults living in the home must undergo a rigorous screening process, including a criminal background check.  Additionally, families must meet with local representatives for an interview prior to being allowed to select and speak with a student. The interview must take place in the family’s home so that the representative can ensure a suitable, clean living environment will be provided.  At least one adult host parent must be 25 years of age or older.  Families should also expect to maintain monthly contact with their local representative and facilitate a secondary home visit by a different organization representative to ensure continued suitability. 

6.  What are the costs involved in hosting?  

Host families are required to cover costs associated with at-home meals, any packed school lunches, transportation to reasonable social and extra-curricular activities, and shelter. Students bring their own pocket money to cover routine expenses including cell phone bills, school expenses, clothing and recreation such as trips to the movies. Students also are required to purchase approved health insurance valid in the United States.

7.  Where do the students go to school?  

Your local representative will work with you to enroll your student at the local public high school.  This is contingent upon the school’s policies regarding enrollment of foreign exchange students, as these policies can vary.

What other questions would you have as a prospective host family?  What about veteran families – what were your concerns prior to hosting?


Are you interested in finding out more about hosting a foreign exchange student?  Fill out the contact form below and an EF representative will get back to you within 48 hours.



Foreign Exchange Friday: Friday Funday!

Time to check in with some of our local students to see what they’ve been up to in the first few weeks of their American adventures!

Lena from Germany at her first American high school football game at Delmar HS.

Lena from Germany at her first American high school football game at Delmar HS.

Lena and her host mom after the game.


Ra from Thailand and his host brother visiting Pennsylvania Dutch Country.


Learning how to twist a pretzel at the Intercourse Pretzel Factory.

Foreign Exchange Friday: Get Involved!

A Highschool American Football game

A Highschool American Football game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that school is started, it’s time to start settling into a routine.  Most schools have a wide variety of activities to join – sports, drama, music…all great ways to meet new friends who have similar interests.

Families – talk to your student about what kinds of things they are interested in and help them explore their options.  Have them speak with teachers, counselors or classmates to find out what they can join and when.  Are there tryouts?  Did the season already begin?  Do they allow late joiners?

Even if a student has quite found something that attracts them yet, encourage them to attend social activities such as football games.  Most students have probably never attended an American football game or are even familiar with it, so it’s a great way to experience the culture of the country and the school itself.  Check the school sports schedule and offer to drop off and pick up your student – or atten with them!

Another place students can get involved are with community groups, such as churches or other places of worship or volunteer groups.  If your student wishes to practice their religion, families should help them find somewhere to do so or ask the local IEC for help.  There, they can also meet people or join a youth group.  If your student enjoyed volunteering back home, see if that is a possibility in your area.  Food banks, schools or hospitals may allow them to volunteer a few hours.

Students are here to experience American school and family life, but they should also explore things they like and are interested in.  Encourage them in finding their place and their year will be better!  I know my best memories of both high school and college were of the “fun” things – sporting events, band – and some of my own best friends were made there.  This could be a great way for your student to bridge the cultural gaps and see that teenagers are all pretty much the same.

Foreign Exchange Friday: Creating A Bucket List

Bucket List word cloud #3

Bucket List word cloud #3 (Photo credit: mccmicb)

A good way to for students to experience the American and local culture is to create a bucket list.  A bucket list is a wish list – come up with some activities, events or short trips you want to experience together.  Both students AND families should come up with one and compare – see what kinds of fun things you can plan for the year.  It’s certainly not necessary to plan out every single activity for the year, but it gives a good idea of what is coming up during the year.  It gives everyone something to look forward to!

Items on your list can be a simple as celebrating a holiday like Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas together.  It doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive – just ideas of fun family activities that will allow students to get the most of their year in the area they are living in.  If you’re not sure what to do, ask friends, neighbors or Google.  Students can ask friends, teachers or other community members they meet (for example, if they attend church).

I’ve created an example of ideas for Northern Delaware as a jumping-off point.

Sample Bucket List

What are some ideas that I could add?  What would you include on your Bucket List?  I’d love some suggestions – feel free to add them in the comments.