GET READY BEFORE EMBARKING IN THE ADVENTURE
Training module 3
Upon completion, you will understand Understand what American High Schools are like, understand how important it is to choose their friends in the United States wisely, know how to find friendships in an American High School
WHAT IS SCHOOL LIKE IN AMERICA?
Whatever else is on your mind, set it aside for the next 12 minutes and check out this video on the left.
With the help of vlogger and friend Max in North Carolina, we give you a very clear look at a day in high school in the United States. Thanks also to Lukas and George who share their experience of a typical day.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES
We can't say for sure what's different between your high school and the high school you'll attend in the United States, because schools in every country feel different. Some schools have 500 students and others have 2,500 students for grades 9-12. We can tell you that the school is the center of social life for high school students in the United States. In some countries, students would spend time with their friends in the city. Even in schools located in the city, students have after-school activities at the school. After-school activities are a time to meet with friends either with a sport, drama, music, a club, or other; there will be many options of activities you can try. Some activities require that you try out. Trying out is when students present their skill before the coaches and the coaches select a certain number of students for the activity. For example, if you'd like to play soccer or basketball, there is a period at the beginning of the season when all the students who want to play will come to tryouts and show the coach their ability. The best players make the team. For sports, most schools have multiple teams. In this case, students try out to make the top squad.
We strongly urge you to decide that you'll be in an after-school activity throughout your stay in the United States. You will be able to learn which activities are available after you've passed your Visa interview with the US Embassy in your country and you've met your host family. You don't need to try just one, you can try many. Most activities are open only for a season, or a few months out of the year, so it is natural to try many activities after school. Again, after school activities is where you'll make friends with people who have similar interests as you. American teenagers keep a busy lifestyle and doing activities with them is the best way to make friends.
Students do have homework and tests regularly in High School. Students who are selected into the HSUSA program must get good grades in their home country. If you currently get good grades, then, when you're in the United States, if you pay attention in class, ask questions when you have them, and complete the assignments that your teacher gives you, you'll get good grades in the United States. Teachers in the United States are strict about completing assignments on time and cheating (looking at another persons test during a test time or copying someone's homework) is considered a strong offense.
Let me give you a BIG tip. Decide now that you're going to speak up when you have questions or don't understand something. Not just once, but all the time! In American high schools, students raise their hand when they have a question. If you feel completely lost, this happens so don't feel embarrassed, ask to see the teacher after school or before school. It's also really important to ask questions with your host family if you don't understand. In fact, until you feel really sure that your communication is great with your host family, repeat instructions back to them. This will help make sure that you don't make a mistake in communication.
MAKING FRIENDS IN AMERICA?
Making friends is different in the United States than in your country. Some students make friends right away, others have to work at it for a few weeks.
You'll make life-long friends on your exchange either way. Don't give up!
Let's hear from our friends George and Lucas how different it is to make friends in the USA
CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY
Who you choose as your friends is important. You're on your high school exchange in a completely different country! You get to choose which kind of friends you'll spend time with. Your friends will have a big influence on you and wherever you go, there are wise choices for friends and poor choices for friends. Have you ever heard that the greatest determining factor in your character, in your attitudes, in the way that you think is made up by the five people closest to you? If that's not your family, you probably have the same attitudes and values as your closest friends. Does your current friend group get you into trouble? Are they headed in the same direction you want to be headed in the future? If yes, fantastic!
In the United States, you get to CHOOSE your friend group. Simply say, "I'm new, can I hand out with you?" They will notice your accent and ask where you're from and the conversation will go from there. CHOOSE WISELY. Did you know that there are some rules while you are on your exchange that if you break them there are greater consequences for you as a foreigner than for an American student? We'll discuss these rules in module #7. Choosing friends who consistently get into trouble can get you into trouble. The majority of American teenagers are fantastic. They like to have fun and very positive energy. They have goals and dreams that they'd like to accomplish in life and they like making other people feel happy. Look for these students when you are choosing friends. The best way to find great friends is to be a great friend.
BEING SOCIAL IN THE USA CAN BE EXHAUSTING FOR A FOREIGNER!
Can you imagine it being tiresome to speak in your English 100% of the time? You go to school and listen in English all day. You're after-school activities are in English. Then you have dinner and talk with your host family in English. Finally, you might have homework in English. It's wonderful practice but it can get tiresome. It's natural to get tired.
You will get tired physically as you get used to a new schedule.
You will get tired mentally because you're learning new things in a different language.
You will get tired emotionally because many things are unfamiliar. If you live in the city, the noise of cars passing by will be unfamiliar if you're from the country. If you're from the city, the quiet of the country would be unfamiliar. No matter your circumstance we can promise you two things.
YOU WILL EXPERIENCE CHANGE: change is not good or bad, it's just different. Whether you receive change as good or bad - that's up to you. Are you the type of student who can make the best of any change? Or do you complain if things aren't your way? Which way do you want to handle change?
MOST CHANGE THAT STUDENTS EXPERIENCE, no matter how different at first, they can grow to love it. Lukas is from the city and moved to the country-side. At first, this was difficult for him to get used to. After a few months, he loved the change. Lukas now feels comfortable in the city and the country. He has become a bigger person because he's overcome change.
LEARNING & SPEAKING ENGLISH
How are you feeling about speaking, living, breathing in a different language to the one you have always spoken!
HERE ARE A FEW TOP TIPS ABOUT HAVING CLASSES IN ENGLISH
UP TO THE CHALLENGE?
This video follows a German student who studied a full year in a US High School
ALL GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS INVOLVE OVERCOMING CHALLENGES