Author Archives: Aqib Malik
“There is no privacy!
They still treat me the same, why can’t they see I have grown up!
Everyday arguments on useless stuff!
Nobody understands my situation!
Okay, whatever, I am just going to sleep.
Yes, I argue because my point is valid!
Why can’t you see my developed leadership qualities?
Why the studies are so darn hard here back home?”
If you are having any of the thoughts above or anything related to it, you maybe one of those lucky ones who are having cultural shocks. Luck ones? Yes, because it is part of readjusting in your own culture. If you don’t face it, there’s no fun in it.
Reverse Cultural Shocks: The little shocks you get after returning to your own home culture after being settled in a foreign culture for a long time.
Ways to Overcome Reverse Cultural Shocks:
1. Accept the fact, you are having them. Just like the way you accept you are hungry and eat to solve that problem.
2. Talk to a person who listens, doesn’t have to be a best friend, mother, father. It can be one of your mentors, a teacher, Councillor.
3. Just like when you left your homeland to experience a new culture, you left all your memories back home for a while to adjust in a new environment. Similarly, it’s time to stop talking about your host community, time to make new memories in a place where you are now.
4. Go on productive hangouts such as community service projects, visiting elderly houses with your friends.
5. Sharing your feelings on social media won’t help. Nobody cares much. It can also lower your self esteem.
6. Stay positive online. How? Create a happy profile on social medias. Post happy stuff, talk about how you are making a change in someone’s life, how you are benefiting the community back home. Fake it till you make it. I trust in you, you can do it.
7. Smile at everything. Not a “buhahaha” laugh. NO. A soft smile that is able to warm hearts.You will see how satisfied you will feel.
8. If you are in a argument with your elders and if you know you are right (I know you are), you need to stop arguing by staying silent. Obey what they say. They raised you, they have the right to ask you to study hard. After-all, that is what’s best for you.
9. Every once in a while, watch comedy movies from your host community to cherish memories.
10. Cherish what you have. Believe in yourself.
Every exchange student has been there where you stand right now. You are not the only unique case who is having a hard time adjusting back in their own culture. It may take some time but it will end. All it depends on, if you apply these tips on yourself or not. The choice is yours. 🙂
If you have any comments, feel free to write them now in the comment section down below. If you need to let out or have a story to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet us at @ExchangeSs about anything related to exchanges. Congratulations on completing your exchange year!
Every year, in Washington D.C, selective students gather for an English Workshop. One such student, Azima Dhanjee, currently in U.S. representing Pakistan had the opportunity to attend Workshop for Youth Learning in Teaching English (WYLTE). Without revealing much, let’s read her story of her amazing experience in her own words.
“28 Students, 19 different nations; barely anybody knew anyone (nothing in common), other than the fact, we all were EXCHANGE STUDENTS.
March 30th’ 2014, the day I have been waiting for. After a long journey, I finally made it to Washington, D.C. I did not know any of the exchange students other than my Pakistani friend. We all started trying to introduce ourselves to one another, trying hard to remember each other’s name and yes, anxiously waiting to reach the amazing ‘Embassy Suites’ to get some rest. Reaching there, we met some of the facilitators, got to know about the whole week schedule and above all, excitement level reached up to the seventh sky.
I still remember, wondering, how it is going to be like with completely different students, new roommates, but truly, I could not have asked for anything better. First day went by learning each other’s names, taking huge amount of selfish and above all get over the jet largess.
This week brought so many memories for me. For once, I actually got to walk around streets of Washington, D.C. with my friends, catch metro, sing around the city, be myself and enjoy every single moment. Being mentored under Tom Toomey, and getting the best team (My Jerries) actually made this experience, the best. I still remember, those group activities, sharing our humor, respecting each other’s ideas and above all, accepting the diversity. We learnt songs from each other’s countries, got happy for each other’s successes, attend so many sessions, run towards our room before the curfew, enjoy the good food, those never perfect count downs, food truck, pictures around the monuments (even a normal bank), we truly did not let any moment slip from our hands.
A special highlight to night around monuments, visit to Carlos Rosario, Georgetown University, Dance party at Spirit of Washington, Ford theatre, and China Town. It feels like, I got to explore all the famous Washington sights.
I personally believe that I learnt so many different ways to make teaching interactive and fun. This workshop helped me to look forward to my dreams and for once, make it come true. Learning from different sessions, I got a chance to be a teacher for 20 minutes. Truly, those were the most energized minutes of my week, trying to present my passion and implement my learning. The feedback from my peers and mentors actually proved their passion in my passion and how we were a family more than a group.
This workshop helped me to connect twitter to my daily life. Those never ending #WYLTEstory, concerning not only the rainy night but an unidentified Panda, who never exist, really brought all of our ideas together and proved WYLTE to be one of the best conferences ever.
I cannot thank any less to the facilitators, who worked so hard, providing us with the best moments. They danced with us, laughed with us; even prank each other, with us. Tom Toomey’s beautiful note on a card is the most precious gift for me. He titled me as his CHAMAK CHALLO, most energized group mate, and truly his encouragement always kept me motivated. I would always cherish these wonderful learning and moments with my teacher/peers. It will surely help me to work on projects top serve my community back home.
This week was surely one of the best weeks of my exchange year. I made friends and memories for life. The learning I acquired would surely help me, in every challenge of my life. I cannot stop going through the pictures and videos from the WYLTE week. Though I am sad it ended, but I cannot be less thankful that it actually happened.”
If you want your experience to be shared, email us at email@example.com
Tweet us at @exchangeSs. If you share this blog with a hashtag #exchangess, we will find you and follow you.
I have a great news and a bad news. The great news is all of you exchange students will be meeting your biological families in almost 3 months. The bad news is all of you exchange students will no longer be enjoying the cultural diversity of another place.
The question arises, what should we do in the last three months to make our year worth remembering for?
The answer is very simple. The following key points will help you make your way to the end of your exchange experience, successfully.
1. Plan a project for your community back home and start to raise funds for it through presentations, social media in your society.
2. To raise funds for the upper planned project, have a little backyard sale of your cultural things which you have from your own country. Apply tattoos(henna), play traditional songs and think about it!
3. Make a list of all your favorite places you want to visit in your host community and then visit them.
4. Start buying the gifts, if you want to, for your loved ones back home, right now so that you don’t feel burden by the end of your year.
5. Make sure you don’t over buy stuff.
6. Start a journal of your last 100 days or 3 months so when you come back, you will relive those beautiful moments.
7. Plan an addressing in your host church, synagogue, Mosque about your culture back home and how your exchange year has helped you becoming a better person.
8. Now this one, not many people do it: Plan a workshop related to a specific topic such as, self development, cultural exchange, life skills, recycling, tech camp for middle schoolers.
9. Plan your going away party at a nearby lake or in the bowling alley. It can be hot dog and soda party or hamburger and chips party. Invite all your friends, family and have tons of fun.
10. Plan a little “I will always love you, dear host parents” gift for your host parents.
Don’t limit yourself to the upper described points. See wider and the world is pretty. If you have any questions or comments, leave them down in the comments. You can tweet us @ExchangeSs for a quick response. If you found this blog interesting and helpful, don’t forget to share it. Put a hash-tag #ExchangeSs so I can find you and follow most of you!
Yes, it’s that time of the month when we present you with the most honorable mention for any exchange student on the forum; student of the month. This month, we are presenting you with the student who adjusted in his host environment very easily, made new friends from such a diverse culture, was elected as the Homecoming king and much more. His name is Muhammad Umer Janjua. Read about his great experience so far in his own words.
“For me, transition from a Pakistani High school into a Private American Catholic High school was one of the
most exciting aspects of my exchange year, a journey I’ll surely cherish. Coming from where your teacher changes the classroom to where the moment the bell rings the hallways are flooded with students going to their next class, it was just one of the numerous new experiences I had. The people were very welcoming and embracing.
The day I went for registration was quite a memorable one. After we were done with the paperwork, this kind lady took us for a tour around the school. After a visiting a couple of hallways and the gym, as impatient as I am, I asked her if I could go to an actual classroom. So, we just went into a random classroom (It was my future class) and I just went in with a big smile plastered across my face and just said, “Hi Guys!”. For a moment everybody stared at me and then instantly everybody burst into laughter and all of a sudden four guys come up, introduce themselves and shake my hands. The teacher, after being successful at getting calmed down after all the laughing, asked me if I was the exchange student they were expecting and that he could already think that we were going to have a good year. Later that night I went to the football game with those four guys.
From being the Homecoming King, getting casted in the fall play, being my school’s mascot, crazy Halloween parties to celebrating Eid with friends from school, High school has definitely been a highlight of my year so far.
Many exchange students are nervous when they’re going for their first day at school but for me it was more like, “Let’s Do This!”. Dressed up in my native attire I went about the hallways, with some people looking at the weird looking foreigner with confused gestures. In all my classes I introduced myself and got acquainted with the atmosphere. During break assembly, all the school got gathered for announcements and prayer. The announcer told everybody about me and instantly I grasped the opportunity to introduce myself. I got up and introduced myself with a couple of jokes here and there with it being a light and funny introduction. The response was amazing. Everybody was thrilled and moments ago in the same hallways where nobody was paying attention to me, now everybody was like, “Hey Umer!”, “How’s it going Umer?”, “Welcome to the States Umer!”. Now everybody in school knew me but I didn’t. It took me nearly a
month to get all the names straight. I always seemed to confuse Brady and Briar though.
I also got elected as the Homecoming King as I had made friends pretty quickly. Being the Homecoming King was definitely an amazing experience and having the Homecoming Queen as your date definitely multiplies the thrill of being to a high school dance for the first time. The whole election process was very exciting and it was definitely a privilege to get elected as the Homecoming king.
I’m a Muslim, my host family’s Mormon and I attend a Catholic School. This is as diverse as it gets. It’s definitely a big learning experience for me and I’m getting acquainted with a lot of different concepts and learning a lot. Attending the mass on Friday in school and then later going for Friday prayers to the mosque and then attending Mormon Church on Sunday is definitely a part of the package.
To be short, YES is the best thing that has happened to me yet. Everybody should ‘YES’ once in their lives and the world would be so much better. (The first picture’s my senior picture too)”
Hopefully you all enjoyed his journey just as much as we did. Did you learn anything? Good if you did and if you didn’t, make sure next time you read more carefully( even the sign boards on the way to McDonalds). Feel free to share your likes , dislikes, comments, questions in the comments down below or tweet us. You can also share your unique experiences with us and send it to our email address(written down below) to get featured on “ExchangeStudentStation”
SOM’s twitter handle: @M_Umer_Janjua
“Yay! I got selected for XYZ workshop! But…. what if? how do I? Why this? where then?”
Well all your questions have been answered here in this brief 10 points you need to know to survive a workshop.
1. Take a suit/dress.
For boys: Take at least 3 dress shirts and 3 different ties. So by chance if you wear the same suit over and over again, you will have a new look with different shirts and ties everyday.
For girls: Take three tops to go with a skirt or dress pants and different jewelry to change looks. That way, you will look classy, elegant, non-poor and pretty.
2. Start conversation with random strangers other than your clan members. That way, you will have more fun, more learning and the one we all want: more popular!
3. If you see someone being all shy and non-interactive, go to them, talk to them and make someone’s day by introducing him/her to new people.
4. For breakfast, eat as much as healthy food as you can. By healthy I mean, milk, brown bread for protein and some fruits.
5. SLEEP! Take your total 7-8 hours sleep. Yes I know the phrase, YOLO, but that phrase don’t work always. Partying all night and not taking sleep can make you absent minded and just as much “out of your mind” as if you were drunk. YOLO!
6. Speak! Always try to interact with the facilitators during the session if required. Make your mark by trying to groom yourself. Also this will help you in conducting your own workshops in the future.
7. The social nights are always a great thing to look up to in any workshop. Make sure, you are actually looking up for socializing and not being with that your newly met special friend to socialize with.
8. If you have an talent, make sure everyone gets to know it during the workshop. Nothing better than a good memory of a good person.
9. Yes, talk, interact, laugh with the facilitators but don’t butter the lion. They get it! As a result, you are on the hit list, may it be positive or negative which depends on your luck.
10. Be yourself! Be humble as you finish the workshop. You got it because other people did not get it. Be thankful to those others. It takes a moment to turn the tables!
Good luck with surviving the workshops coming up!
Follow us on twitter @ExchangeSs. Feel free to tweet us for any queries.
ExchangeStudentStation has it’s first STUDENT OF THE MONTH. Many of sthe students sent their essays, their experiences to us which were indeed a delight to read. Out of all, this one stood out due to it’s uniqueness. Our very first Student of the month is MUNEEB JAWED, PAKISTAN. As he states, “Yesterday two bears were roaming around my house. If you scared them then they will definitely hurt you. I am not allowed to go out at night due to these bears.” Now you know what we are talking about. Here is his unique experience.
“I am currently living in Port Alsworth, Alaska (yes, ALASKA). It is a rural part of Alaska with hardly 150 people. It is a very unique place. Many of you would be thinking what makes it so unique? Let me explain. Following points will help you figure out the answer :
1. My place is really small. There are only 10-15 houses nearby between mountains and lakes. It is the most beautiful place on earth.
2. My high school has only 12 kids including me :p.
3. There are no shops ( yes, no shops) in my area. If you want anything then you have three options, either forget about it, or order on amazon and wait for about 2 weeks or fly to the nearest city and pay 400$ for the flight. People usually buy groceries for the whole year at a time.
5. I am having a full wildlife experience here. Yesterday two bears were roaming around my house. If you scared them then they will definitely hurt you. I am not allowed to go out at night due to these bears.
6. The most important rule for living here is ” If you hear a dog barking, then run as fast as you can because either it is a moose or a bear roaming around.”
7. If you go for a walk, you will be definitely followed by a Fox.
8. There are no cars here. All families here have their own 5 seater planes except my family. These people fly whenever they want. The planes are parked outside every house like if they were cars. Everyone here has a pilot license including 15 year old kids
9. In my area, every year, it snows for about 5 months.
10. Here, nobody have an internet connection except the school.
These were some of points because of which I am having a very different experience yet amazing. I hope you find it interesting. Come visit me! Make sure you bring your airplane with you ;)”
For you to be featured on our station, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your unique, fun, depressing( the ones which you don’t want other’s to get trap in) experiences.
Follow us on twitter for lively updates: @ExchangeSs
Let us know your votes if you think we should get a facebook page for worldwide station for exchange students all over. Comment below or use social media to ask any question possible. Don’t be shy. 🙂
Are you living in U.S as an high school exchange student? Do you want to make your year successful just like the former best exchange students? Do you want to attend all those cool/informative conferences? If yes, then my fellow you are the right place. Kudos.
A lot of students, while on exchange, have the desire to attend at least one conference. The question comes when you don’t know how to reach them, what are their names, when are they going to be, what to expect. Here below are a brief summary of major conferences that happens every year for YES/ A SMYLE/ FLEX students to enable them to learn different unique qualities.
- Civics Education Workshop (CEW):
For CEW, students get an email from American Councils around November- December. The application is sort of a survey in which they have to write an essay regarding the politics of their country, how they relate it with America and how they think to eradicate it when they go home. The selection process starts after you submit your documents. Results are announced around January and the workshop takes place in February. Workshop is all about the government, leadership qualities, visits to monuments, meetings with your state senators and how the government of America works.
- Better Understanding for Better World (BUBW), Baltimore/ Orlando, FL/ :
- Youth Summit:
- Workshop for youth leaders in teaching English (WYLTE):
- Global New Media Lab (GNML) :
GNML is an Online program consists of 10 biweekly sessions that guide you through the process of creating a social media for social change campaign. During GNML Online, you will learn how to harness the power of various social/digital media technologies to advocate for social change related to a social issue in your home community.
- YOUTH TECH CAMP:
During GNML Online workshops time, happens a TECH CAMP which is only granted to the 26 actively participating students in GNML from YES/FLEX/A SMYLE. It happens around April. This TechCamp will advance their leadership, training and public speaking skills while developing individual strategic action plans that outline how they will teach others back home how to use social media for social change.
NOTE: ALL THE STUDENTS CAN APPLY IN GNML BUT YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE BETWEEN CEW, TECHCAMP, WYLTE).
Hope it was clear, if you have any question, you can ask in the comments, email us or tweet us at @exchangeSs- we are always active. If you have a story to share, email us and tweet us that you have emailed us. Don’t forget to share, like and tap that follow button in the upper right corner. Thank you.
Let me get straight to the point and tell you how I feel. It’s been more than a month that I have been living with my host parents. First few weeks were great but now I feel as if they don’t treat me the same way they used to. They don’t smile with me all the time, they take all the work from me while their own daughter is just sitting on the couch and watching the Television. Last night they shifted my bedroom in the basement although I was much happy with the upstairs room that I shared with my host sister. I guess they don’t like me anymore. I hope their attitudes get better with time. I miss home, China. “
If some of you feel the same like this upper paragraph. Then you are all at the right place. This phase is your homesickness/cultural shock phase. With all the different things you are trying, you find ways to express yourselves. With every month passing your host family will adjust with you even more and that’s when one thinks as if they don’t like them anymore.
If they ask you to do a chore, this means they trust you enough to do it. Now they believe you are part of their family and it’s very natural to entrust you with a responsibility which their own son/daughter can’t do. Cleaning your room, washing dishes, taking the garbage out, eating the vegetables, taking the dog out for a walk, doing the laundry and not using much social media is a part of your exchange year. This maybe is quite different from your own culture but in order to be successful, get use to it.
The mentioned story in the begining is a true story of one of my friends from China and she wanted me to share this excerpt from her journals with all of you. She said, as she reads it now, these are all good memories to her and she laughs at them. Yes, you heard it right. Those were good memories. She is a successful alumna and is doing her degree from University of Massachusetts. Wait! There is one thing to unleash about her; she is living with her dearest host family.
I hope this was helpful to you.
For any question/Queries, you can comment down below or email us at Exchange_ss@hotmail.com or tweet us at @ExchangeSs.