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Joan in GE

Studying/Working Abroad - the importance of it in a global economy

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Yes, there is a big difference. In Germany, success is the student's responsibility. Every student who passes the Abitur can attend a university, with few restrictions as to subject (there are increasingly more restrictions now, but there used to be virtually none before Bologna). the universities could not choose their own students. The first two semesters were pretty much a weedout of students with lack of aptitude and work ethic.

The university does not really have any interest in retention of weak students - not like in the US, where they are paying customers and schools bend over backwards trying to coax along the weakest students.

 

(This difference in support level, btw, is not the reason that I would not consider a German university for my kids. I find it very appealing to treat students like grownups instead of handholding them to the degree we are required to in the US.)

 

 

 

I was in East Germany, but at least in my field, there is no difference.

 

 

 

"Overtime" is not a concept that exists for physics researchers. They are all in it because they love it. This may be quite different in other disciplines, I would not know. But physics seems to breed workaholics all over the world.

 

I don't mind the lack of handholding, but I think it could make it harder for a foreigner who was going into regular uni (ie not exchange programs)...

 

I asked ds about 'time' and he said that the profs who come from around the world tend to work overtime eg one from S. Korea told him it is a necessary sacrifice. Eg He got an email written at 4 am from an African who had studied in the US......and that the few Swiss he knew tended to be 9-5 ish....That was in the one school and in the other he said he wasn't involved at the graduate level so can't tell...

 

Thanks, regentrude....It's always good to hear other perpectives!

Joan

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Kind of a spinoff topic but still really related is why are we not teaching a foreign language to our toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary kids? That is by far the easiest time to learn another language. We have lived in many places in the US from big cities to pretty small towns. This if the first place I have actually seen something geared towards young kids, a program called Lango, that doesn't have the requirement to be enrolled in a school. It isn't perfect and could probably be done much better, but there is a major hole for that. I had 4 years of high school spanish and can't speak it and really don't remember much from 25 years ago. I can still sing jingle bells in spanish which is something that I learned in Kindergarten.

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Kind of a spinoff topic but still really related is why are we not teaching a foreign language to our toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary kids? That is by far the easiest time to learn another language. We have lived in many places in the US from big cities to pretty small towns. This if the first place I have actually seen something geared towards young kids, a program called Lango, that doesn't have the requirement to be enrolled in a school. It isn't perfect and could probably be done much better, but there is a major hole for that. I had 4 years of high school spanish and can't speak it and really don't remember much from 25 years ago. I can still sing jingle bells in spanish which is something that I learned in Kindergarten.

 

Foreign language is compulsory in elementary/primary school in the UK. It's not always well taught, but theoretically it is there. FWIW, my boys started Chinese at 4 and 8 respectively.

 

L

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Kind of a spinoff topic but still really related is why are we not teaching a foreign language to our toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary kids? That is by far the easiest time to learn another language. We have lived in many places in the US from big cities to pretty small towns.

 

There is plenty of bilingual private preschools here. For public schools, there are dual immersion programs from kindergarten to high school for spanish and chinese.

There is 421 schools listed on this page. http://www.cal.org/jsp/TWI/SchoolListings.jsp

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The 2nd and 3rd language issue in primary school is a huge difference for American vs European homeschoolers.

 

...In CH, the administrators are becoming more demanding about this in some cantons....starting to insist on even testing these in Jr Hi and maybe soon grade school....

 

But when I did the thread asking about language possibilities in primary and jr high in the US....different schools and districts were all over the map...and it became obvious how difficult it could be to get foreign language instruction and experience in some parts of the US....

 

Even here in GE, getting German was a problem....and German is spoken in this country not far away...but the private German teachers are few and far between and very pricey! So all my empathies for single language families....

 

ETA - I posted part of this in the thread about 8th grade credits on the HS board...Look at the percent of time expected for languages for uni entry!

 

Les divers domaines d’études mentionnés ci-dessus doivent représenter au moins les pourcentages suivants de l’enseignement:

30 à 40 % pour les langues,

25 à 35 % pour les mathématiques et les sciences expérimentales,

10 à 20 % pour les sciences humaines.

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...Look at the percent of time expected for languages for uni entry!

 

Les divers domaines d’études mentionnés ci-dessus doivent représenter au moins les pourcentages suivants de l’enseignement:

30 à 40 % pour les langues,

25 à 35 % pour les mathématiques et les sciences expérimentales,

10 à 20 % pour les sciences humaines.

 

Interesting!

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The 2nd and 3rd language issue in primary school is a huge difference for American vs European homeschoolers.

.........

But when I did the thread asking about language possibilities in primary and jr high in the US....different schools and districts were all over the map...and it became obvious how difficult it could be to get foreign language instruction and experience in some parts of the US.

 

It is the experience as well. There are plenty of Asian markets here and some European ones. When we go grocery shopping, my kids hear a myriad of languages from Japanese to Korean to Chinese to Hindi. We hear some German or French or Russian while shopping at department stores. Silicon Valley is so diverse in languages that kids don't think it weird to learn another language; they want to understand "gossip" that they hear around them.

I wonder whether that might be part of the allure of city living for me. Hearing all the different languages everywhere and all the different ethnic shops to window shop.

Even here in GE, getting German was a problem....and German is spoken in this country not far away...but the private German teachers are few and far between and very pricey! So all my empathies for single language families....

There are so many affordable german schools in my area, both saturday schools and international schools.

Links just in case you want to compare

Northern California http://www.gseb-scho...llinktable.html

Southern California http://www.germansch.../locations.html

 

Les divers domaines d’études mentionnés ci-dessus doivent représenter au moins les pourcentages suivants de l’enseignement:

30 à 40 % pour les langues,

25 à 35 % pour les mathématiques et les sciences expérimentales,

10 à 20 % pour les sciences humaines.

 

With science experiments/labs added in to the time total, I would have expected that to be almost double languages. That is interesting that languages take up about the same amount of academic time.

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It is the experience as well. There are plenty of Asian markets here and some European ones. When we go grocery shopping, my kids hear a myriad of languages from Japanese to Korean to Chinese to Hindi. We hear some German or French or Russian while shopping at department stores. Silicon Valley is so diverse in languages that kids don't think it weird to learn another language; they want to understand "gossip" that they hear around them.

I wonder whether that might be part of the allure of city living for me. Hearing all the different languages everywhere and all the different ethnic shops to window shop.

 

There are so many affordable german schools in my area, both saturday schools and international schools.

Links just in case you want to compare

Northern California http://www.gseb-scho...llinktable.html

Southern California http://www.germansch.../locations.html

 

With science experiments/labs added in to the time total, I would have expected that to be almost double languages. That is interesting that languages take up about the same amount of academic time.

 

You do have a lot of German schools!

 

That's an interesting point about exposure to all the ethnic markets - which can happen in many areas of the US, even if not major international communities....

 

I'm really wondering about the percent of time and how this will work with an American diploma now..........I'm wondering how they calculate this...actual time or credits? or are they going to ask how much time a credit is worth?

 

Joan

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There is plenty of bilingual private preschools here. For public schools, there are dual immersion programs from kindergarten to high school for spanish and chinese.

There is 421 schools listed on this page. http://www.cal.org/j...oolListings.jsp

 

 

I wasn't wanting something like a private school. There is a program I have come across in one area that I have spent some time in. It is 45 minutes once a week that has the teacher spend the entire time talking and playing with a group of kids and speaking only the foreign language. Now I know 45 minutes a week is not enough and I am not saying it is the ideal set up, but I don't want to have to enroll my kid in a school to get access for a foreign language.

 

Dh and I keep discussing the possibility of hiring someone to come and play with dd for a few hours a week of course while one of us is home, but that really isn't ideal either.

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The 2nd and 3rd language issue in primary school is a huge difference for American vs European homeschoolers.

 

...In CH, the administrators are becoming more demanding about this in some cantons....starting to insist on even testing these in Jr Hi and maybe soon grade school....

 

But when I did the thread asking about language possibilities in primary and jr high in the US....different schools and districts were all over the map...and it became obvious how difficult it could be to get foreign language instruction and experience in some parts of the US....

 

Even here in GE, getting German was a problem....and German is spoken in this country not far away...but the private German teachers are few and far between and very pricey! So all my empathies for single language families....

 

ETA - I posted part of this in the thread about 8th grade credits on the HS board...Look at the percent of time expected for languages for uni entry!

 

Les divers domaines d’études mentionnés ci-dessus doivent représenter au moins les pourcentages suivants de l’enseignement:

30 à 40 % pour les langues,

25 à 35 % pour les mathématiques et les sciences expérimentales,

10 à 20 % pour les sciences humaines.

 

 

S/O - one of the Unis my son considered before settling on his current one was in Germany. My son knows German - very, very well. He was taught by German tutors, not American ones. It is actually his first 'social' language, as we lived in Germany when he was small, and he started school at a German Kindergarten. IOW - he's no slouch, and when he speaks, he sounds like a native German from Hesse, not American - to the point that he often speaks English with German grammar (people who speak German will understand what I'm talking about here).

 

But guess what? For him to attend the school, he had to pass a native level fluency exam. Which wasn't just reading, writing and speaking - it was also cultural. This requirement didn't exist at all German unis, but it did at the one HE wanted to attend (of course) - and I'm sure some others. This school had a program that was very rare, so they could be as selective as they wanted in regards to foreigners applying to their program. To be honest, I was really relieved when he shifted course (literally). He could have passed the test with some brushing up, but the sheer amount of paperwork I was going to have to provide the German government made me want to hurl.

 

 

A

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But guess what? For him to attend the school, he had to pass a native level fluency exam. Which wasn't just reading, writing and speaking - it was also cultural. This requirement didn't exist at all German unis, but it did at the one HE wanted to attend (of course) - and I'm sure some others. This school had a program that was very rare, so they could be as selective as they wanted in regards to foreigners applying to their program. To be honest, I was really relieved when he shifted course (literally). He could have passed the test with some brushing up, but the sheer amount of paperwork I was going to have to provide the German government made me want to hurl.

 

Now I am curious: which university is that?

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Now I am curious: which university is that?

 

 

TUM - but it was for their Brauwesen und Getranketechnologie BS and MS programs - and, well, they can be as picky as they want when they're essentially the ONLY place to go if you wish to learn it, LOL. (Or, rather, learn it and have the rest of the world respect your credentials)

 

I don't blame them for not wanting to have to deal with communication problems.

 

 

A

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I don't want to have to enroll my kid in a school to get access for a foreign language.

 

Dh and I keep discussing the possibility of hiring someone to come and play with dd for a few hours a week of course while one of us is home, but that really isn't ideal either.

 

I presume you've looked at the Bilingual Board for ideas....could the person teach them anything (not necessarily sophisticated material - art or gardening projects, nature study...) in the foreign language?

 

Joan

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This thread seems to have morphed into a foreign language thread (naturally lol) so I think I'll post this here:

 

I spent some time at my sister's house yesterday. Our public elementary school starts Spanish in kindergarten, very lightly, and works on it lightly, aiming for exposure, a bit of vocabulary (colours, etc.), and common phrases. In middle school, they begin working on it more seriously. In high school, the classes are taught in Spanish and students are forbidden to use anything else in class, even amongst themselves. They are encouraged to chat with each other in class and given time to do it while the teacher is available to answer questions (she doesn't correct them at that point) and they read literature. In 11th, the better students take AP Spanish and in 12th, AP Spanish Lit. In other words, they have a relatively successful Spanish program. I've run into a number of students in town carrying around Don Quixote and a Spanish dictionary. My oldest niece (11th) was able to translate successfully for her parents when they went to an orphanage in Honduras, even managing to deal with UbbyDubby, of all things. (I"m sure I mangled the spelling.) Yesterday, I had a peek at 8th grade, which was interesting. My youngest niece and two friends were sitting around the kitchen table, laughing as they tried to converse in Spanish. This was just for fun. Somebody at school is doing something very right if this is their idea of fun! Then they began talking about their next Spanish essay. One of them was complaining that she didn't have enough transitions words and the others were trying to help her by telling her which ones they had used. They had to use a certain number. Earlier in the week, my niece had shown me the Spanish essay she was working on, one that had to have a certain number of verbs in the past tense. She had 60 so far and was pleased that the subject was making the essay easy to write. She said next week she had to do an oral report for the class.

 

I thought it was interesting to see the sorts of things they were doing - lots of talking, oral reports, essays, and reading. The reports and essays have very contrived specifications like yeah many transitions to encourage them to use their new grammar. There is lots of talking with friends with the teacher available to answer questions with no critisizing, and other situations where the emphasis is on getting everything correct. They all seem to do lots of reading with a dictionary. This is NOT what happened in my high school French class sigh. Grrr...

 

Nan

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That sounds like a very applied way of learning languages...

 

Could you find out which program they are using?

 

I agree - it's too bad we didn't have that kind of learning situation in school :-)

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There is plenty of bilingual private preschools here. For public schools, there are dual immersion programs from kindergarten to high school for spanish and chinese.

There is 421 schools listed on this page. http://www.cal.org/j...oolListings.jsp

 

 

Unfortunately, many areas do not have access to this. There are over 22,000 high schools alone in the US so the elementary schools number greater than 60,000. The chasm is HUGE. I would have had to drive a 170 mile round trip for my children to attend an elementary school with foreign language option and that's IF they made it through the competitive admission's process to get into such a charter or private school. Literally, a tiny handful of charters near the Detroit/Ann Arbor corridor have this, the others are all private insitutions with tuition bills that begin at $7500.00 per year for Kindergarten and go up to $30,000.00 for a preparatory elementary school. The midwest, in particular, has a real problem.

 

Oh, and our local high school dropped the third year of French, and they completely dropped German. They presently offer three years of high school Spanish, and two years of French...they fired the French teacher in order to save money so it's all online, afterschool at home...no conversing with others and the bulk of the work is written, easy to imput into the computer and be instantly graded. No real language instruction there.

 

 

Faith

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Unfortunately, many areas do not have access to this. ....The chasm is HUGE. .....The midwest, in particular, has a real problem.

 

...they fired the French teacher in order to save money so it's all online, afterschool at home...no conversing with others and the bulk of the work is written, easy to input into the computer and be instantly graded. No real language instruction there.

 

Faith

 

 

I am well aware of the social divide. I just did a search for my county and there are 10 dual immersion public schools. 8 are spanish and 2 are chinese. The nearby two county has 5 dual immersion public schools all spanish and 12 dual immersion public schools all spanish. So in a rough distance of 50 miles, we have 27 dual immersion public schools and that is 2010 numbers, I know of two more dual immersion public school not listed. I just checked the link I posted and California has 133 dual immersion schools out of the 422 schools (30%). This is the link to the table sorted by state. It is a sad picture.

The private school fees are close to what you listed. The libraries here are well-stocked with foreign language materials (books and dvds) for both children and adults.

 

For my school district, spanish is offered in all three high schools, french in one, german in another and japanese in the third. Assignment of high school is by address so each high school is basically two choice of foreign languages.

 

Hubby brought up in conversation last night while our kids were swimming that his office people who are not foreigners are not able to speak spanish or any other language. Considering that spanish is offered in almost every california public high school, and foreign language credit is needed for the UC and CSU system, it kind of feel that that foreign language requirement does not fulfil its purpose.

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Hubby brought up in conversation last night while our kids were swimming that his office people who are not foreigners are not able to speak spanish or any other language. Considering that spanish is offered in almost every california public high school, and foreign language credit is needed for the UC and CSU system, it kind of feel that that foreign language requirement does not fulfil its purpose.

 

 

Oh, I agree completely. Here, it just seems like a hoop to be jumped and it's so hard to get resources, that though I make a super human effort with my kids, the reality is a lot of the time I feel like in foreign language I'm just checking of a box. GRRRRR...

 

Faith

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This is the link to the table sorted by state. It is a sad picture.

 

 

Very interesting link....I see the state where I grew up is very close to the bottom...

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.I see the state where I grew up is very close to the bottom...

 

 

The state I live in did not even make it into the chart.

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Acadia - That was a very interesting link. If we'd wanted an immersion program, we would have had a pretty horrid commute and a huge tuition bill. Our best bet would have been to do Sat. school, something which didn't work with our main family hobby. The next best bet probably would have been to encourage our children to put lots of energy into doing well at the public high school (see my previous post) or send them to the local private junior/senior high school, which is managing to turn out students who can actually speak French. If there had been an immersion program within easy reach, I would have put my children in the program. I was always envious of a Nova Scotian relative who had the option of having her daughter educated in French. As it was, we muddled through as best we could, with pretty mixed results. Now if only I could go back and do it again... lol.

 

Asta - That is very funny about the gpa. I can so seem mine saying the same thing.

 

Nan

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I see the state where I grew up is very close to the bottom...

 

I just ran a data search on California's dept of education database. There are 201 dual immersion public schools offering Spanish, Korean (7 Los Angeles, 1 SF), Japanese (Los Angeles, 1), Chinese/Cantonese (8). There are two more chinese dual immersion elementary public schools not in the database, one is a new charter school and one started the rollout in 2008 in K and is now K-5.

 

ETA:

Texas has 474 programs listed http://www.texastwow...g/viewstats.cfm

"It advocates for the implementation of educational programs in public education that ensure that all learners are academically and linguistically equipped in at least two languages with the necessary skills to successfully compete in a linguistically and culturally diverse society.

Assist in the development and implementation of Senate Bill 467 so that some day every Texas student will master English plus another language" (Source)

 

ETA:

"At a time when other types of bilingual education are on the decline and the B-word—bilingual—has been scrubbed from the U.S. Department of Education lexicon, dual language programs are showing promise in their mission to promote biliteracy and positive cross-cultural attitudes in our increasingly multilingual world.

 

In 2000, there were about 260 dual language programs operating in U.S. schools, according to Richard Riley, who was serving as education secretary at the time. That year, he called on the nation to increase the number of dual language programs to 1,000 by 2005, saying our nation would be stronger with more biliterate citizens who could read and write in more than one language. “We need to invest in these kinds of programs,†said Riley. “In an international economy, knowledge, and knowledge of language, is power.â€

 

Over the past decade, however, dual language programs have grown tenfold, with an estimated 2,000 now operating, including more than 300 in the state of New York alone, according to Jose Ruiz-Escalante, president of the National Association for Bilingual Education." (Source, March 2011)

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regentrude - I was just looking at Arcadia's link to the International German Abitur (on the When does your school district offer a foreign language thread). I'm very curious how the international version of the Abitur and the regular Abitur differ. It seems like there aren't nearly as many subjects for the international version as there are for the Swiss matu...I'd never realized how few areas are covered - or am I misunderstanding something? Maybe the depth is greater than for the Matu? Is it more like A levels where they are reaching a higher level in fewer subjects?

 

Thanks,

Joan

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regentrude - I was just looking at Arcadia's link to the International German Abitur (on the When does your school district offer a foreign language thread). I'm very curious how the international version of the Abitur and the regular Abitur differ. It seems like there aren't nearly as many subjects for the international version as there are for the Swiss matu...I'd never realized how few areas are covered - or am I misunderstanding something? Maybe the depth is greater than for the Matu? Is it more like A levels where they are reaching a higher level in fewer subjects?

 

Joan, I am sorry, but I can't answer your question. Things have changed a lot since I took Abitur, and there are differences between the German states, since education is handled by the state, not the federal government.

 

I can tell you the current requirements for my home state:

Students are required to take several mandatory subjects in 11th and 12th grades: German, math, two foreign languages (which must have been studied previously), biology, physics, chemistry, history, geography, civics/econ, art/music, ethics/religion, PE. Of those subjects, students must select two for advanced studies ("Leistungskurs"); one of those must be German or Math. Students in more focused course of study may choose three advanced subjects.

 

The Abitur grades stem partially from class grades in 11th and 12th grade in all subjects, and partially from Finals, where they are tested in a subset of their subjects.

Students have to take final exams in both advanced study subjects (written, 240-300 minutes), in one regular (Grundkurs) subject (written, 180-240 minutes), in two regular subjects (oral). Among the subjects tested must be one foreign language, one science (or math), one social science. If a foreign language is advanced subject, the mandatory written test has also an oral part (weird, I know: it is literally called "the oral part of the written exam")

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I'm very curious how the international version of the Abitur and the regular Abitur differ.

 

I'm not sure how it differs but the below PDFs will explain the international abitur clearer.

http://gisbos.org/generate_web_file.php?fn=1340210389elterninformationen%20oberstufe-diap%20englisch%20neu%20juni2012.pdf&document=1

http://www.jfks.de/pdf/Key_Differences_between_High_School_and_Abi.pdf

 

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I keep thinking of joining in on this conversation, but keep getting very conflicted.

 

I do think international relations are important, and am tempted to consider traveling abroad (hi Joan!). However, for those of us with fairly lower middle class income, choices must be made. Do you all prioritize foreign travel above, say, travel to visit one's family in other states?

 

Also, what about the fact that one is choosing to leave family and friends, in order to live alongside strangers? My grandmother loved to travel abroad and spoke well of those she may have met for only a day, and as a kid I sometimes felt she enjoyed their company more than mine. Do you prioritize individual travel over, say, a trip taken with a group of extended family (which obviously would have less cultural immersion since you would be emphasizing the enjoyment of being with your family)?

 

I personally would not consider sending a minor child abroad alone unless they had a personal passion that could not be satisfied any other way (like Nan's kids, maybe). I've just known kids who did not have very, uh, educational experiences as exchange students, such as ending up pregnant. I like homeschooling, so entrusting my children to be schooled by strangers just because they're in another country seems more like a public school choice or something.

 

The other conflict I have is that some of you seem to think Americans are narrow minded since they don't value international travel. Yet, I think of folks who have traveled over the 2,000-mile span of the USA and that might be further than folks travel when visiting 10 countries on other continents. Does that count as exposure to life outside our own coccoon? We're a country of almost 4,000 square miles, and we are not all the same by any stretch of the imagination, including the many internationals within our borders (Minnesota has a large population from Somalia and Vietnam, for instance). Anyways, we're almost a whole continent, or we are a continent if you take a little jaunt into Canada and Mexico on occasion.

 

In addition, we've had many international contacts just by being right here in Minnesota. We hired a student from China as a babysitter, and we got to know his wife and child when they came over here. We hosted a gal from France in our home via a French language program, and a gal from New Zealand via a Girl Scout camp program. When I worked at Kumon, most of my workmates and my students were from India, China, and Somalia. Etc. I never felt from any of these contacts that they were more international-minded than we are here. They were all people, with quirks and flaws. Most of the French students had taken English for 8 years and couldn't speak to us, and their interests were over at the Mall of America. The others were mostly interested in learning the American accent, rather than our speaking their language.

 

In the end, I guess I feel a little defensive about folks classifying Americans as being narrow minded just because they can't afford international experiences, especially when Americans may well have more miles of experience than well-traveled internationals, and some variety of cultural experience right here. And, I feel a little conflicted about whether it's best to prioritize those international experiences above family and charity and other important ways to spend one's time and money??? I just don't know what to conclude. I can always make things more complicated than they probably are.

 

Julie

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Joan, I am sorry, but I can't answer your question. Things have changed a lot since I took Abitur, and there are differences between the German states, since education is handled by the state, not the federal government.

 

I can tell you the current requirements for my home state:

Students are required to take several mandatory subjects in 11th and 12th grades: German, math, two foreign languages (which must have been studied previously), biology, physics, chemistry, history, geography, civics/econ, art/music, ethics/religion, PE. Of those subjects, students must select two for advanced studies ("Leistungskurs"); one of those must be German or Math. Students in more focused course of study may choose three advanced subjects.

 

The Abitur grades stem partially from class grades in 11th and 12th grade in all subjects, and partially from Finals, where they are tested in a subset of their subjects.

Students have to take final exams in both advanced study subjects (written, 240-300 minutes), in one regular (Grundkurs) subject (written, 180-240 minutes), in two regular subjects (oral). Among the subjects tested must be one foreign language, one science (or math), one social science. If a foreign language is advanced subject, the mandatory written test has also an oral part (weird, I know: it is literally called "the oral part of the written exam")

I'm not sure how it differs but the below PDFs will explain the international abitur clearer.

 

regentrude and Arcadia - thank you so much! I can finally understand the Abitur at the basic level. I see there are similarities with various national approaches but at the same time it is unique....Somehow I'd imagined it to be more like the Swiss matu....I also see that in a way it compares with what they are requiring in Switzerland from the US...with the diploma and the AP's....you have a general exposure and then more serious testing in select areas...

 

 

 

 

 

That document is extremely useful in comparing the US and German approach and how to approach universities in the two countries with the different papers...

 

I had one confusion because on one page it said that you could apply to German uni's with good SAT or ACT scores and no AP's, yet further down on the same page it said you needed the AP's...

 

Also I was very surprised to see that the AP German exam is sufficient to apply to university there...I don't consider the AP French of a high enough level to be successful here....so it's hard to see how the German AP would be a high enough level to be successful there...

 

Thanks!!!

Joan

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However, for those of us with fairly lower middle class income, choices must be made. Do you all prioritize foreign travel above, say, travel to visit one's family in other states?

........

The other conflict I have is that some of you seem to think Americans are narrow minded since they don't value international travel.

I am lower middle class income and my family are foreigners here. Our extended family is in Asia and Australia. So "foreign travel" to my family is literally visiting our relatives. We spent close to $5k on airfare during off season/peak to fly home. If I work, we could go home more often. As it is, we went home once in 7 years. While I would love to visit Niagara Falls, I would prioritize going to Australia to visit hubby's cousins and nephews (no niece yet) first if we have spare cash.

I don't think Americans are narrow minded because they don't travel, whether out of state or international. Everyone have different priorities when it comes to spending money on traveling. I love to travel and for our family budget, road trips are the most economical staying at motels along the way. I can say that going on a road trip from the San Diego/Nevada end of California to the Eureka/Oregon end of California was enjoyable and interesting.

Where I am staying is kind of an expat enclave and has people from many different countries here.

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I plan to write a nice well-thought out reply but meanwhile I'll briefly say that there are open-minded people on both sides of the ocean and close-minded people on both sides as well. It is not travel alone that opens someone's heart and mind. Nor is it automatically necessary to travel to have an open mind and heart. Self-doubt is a very important part of open mindedness I think - but I'm not referring to some kind of debilitating insecurity...

 

And Julie - I find you extremely open-minded.

 

I'll write more later. :-)

Joan

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Also I was very surprised to see that the AP German exam is sufficient to apply to university there...I don't consider the AP French of a high enough level to be successful here....so it's hard to see how the German AP would be a high enough level to be successful there...

 

The german saturday school my boys attend will prep them for the Deutsche Sprachdiplom by Goethe Institut. That seems to be one of the most commonly acceptable test of german proficiency for university admission.

I did a quick check on Technische Universitat Dresden, TUM and LMU Munich. Both do not accept AP German as a qualifier. My guess is that a 4 or 5 for AP German would be acceptable for admission to an undergrad program conducted in English in Germany, but unlikely to be accepted for the top tier universities there.

http://www.tu-dresden.de/internationales/int_stud/abschluss/applic_degree/knowledge_of_german

http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/students/degree/admission_info/german_proficiency/index.html

http://www.tum.de/en/studies/before-your-studies/application-and-acceptance/german-language-skills/

 

ETA:

The DAAD website listing the german language requirement

https://www.daad.de/deutschland/nach-deutschland/voraussetzungen/en/6221-german-language/

The DAAD link for people applying from Switzerland

https://www.daad.de/deutschland/nach-deutschland/voraussetzungen/en/6017-university-admission-and-requirements/?id=100027&ebene=2&submit=Show+»

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I keep thinking of joining in on this conversation, but keep getting very conflicted.

 

I do think international relations are important, and am tempted to consider traveling abroad (hi Joan!). However, for those of us with fairly lower middle class income, choices must be made. Do you all prioritize foreign travel above, say, travel to visit one's family in other states?

 

 

 

As far as this thread is concerned, I haven't been thinking about fancy overseas travel. I was thinking in terms of getting up and going overseas cheaply as an adult, working your way. The first and second time I lived abroad (in France), I was working as an English teacher, on a scheme arranged through my university - I paid for all my expenses out of my salary.

 

Next, I spent a year in China: I applied to the Chinese embassy in London, had an interview there, and was offered a job in Beijing. I sold my car, bought a plane ticket, and lived on my (low) salary while I was in China.

 

After that, I moved to Taiwan (to further my Chinese studies). I used savings from my previous job to buy the plane ticket and pay for the first month of school fees. Then I found work as an English teacher to support myself. Once I had finished my studies, I started my career - working as a technical writer for computer companies.

 

None of this is fancy high-income stuff. It just takes initiative. My family paid not a penny for any of it.

 

Do I think that non-travelling people are narrow-minded? No - it's perfectly possible to learn about the world through reading widely and meeting foreigners on your own turf. I know that America is big and diverse - I've lived in the US and travelled extensively there - but nothing equals the experience of waking up on your first morning in a foreign land, with all your moorings adrift, knowing that you have to negotiate your day in a foreign language and culture.

 

Can accidents happen overseas? Certainly. Can they happen at your local university. Yup.

 

Laura

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Julie, I don't have time right now to write out a proper reply but I wanted to say that you raise some good points. As Joan said, both open-minded and close-minded people live everywhere, but what is interesting is that the close-minded people living elsewhere are close-minded in a different way and the open-minded people living elsewhere are open-minded in a different way. I think this is what makes travel so broadening. I made sure my children traveled within the US as well as outside it. I definately gave some thought to developing their patriotism. : ) I think the combination of showing them their own beautiful country and defining their own culture and language for them by having them live in other ones for awhile did this pretty effectively lol. We live in a very small town. It was important to me to show my children how big and varied the world is. Visiting the big city doesn't do this. It is just scary for us. Visiting the Texas cousins or the relatives in New Mexico is definately different lol but not nearly as different as going to live in a temple in Japan. Yes, we took a risk. A big risk. We took that risk after we saw the results of NOT doing it and decided the risk was worth it. Things happen at home, too. I worried much more about my oldest going to work in strange apartments in the city and the middle one going on a Native American sacred run than I did about the two trips to Japan or the summer in Switzerland. My experience has been that my boys will find ways to challenge themselves no matter what I do. It has turned out to be safer to let them pick challenges that are big enough that they can see the necessity for being cautious. I suppose you could say that I chose overseas travel over visiting family, but I am in the happy position of having all the first cousins and many of the second cousins within easy driving distance. I could have sent them to visit their Texas second cousins (I regret the fact that they haven't had much contact with them) but it wouldn't have been the same personal challenge. It wouldn't have helped them develop the skills that Joan mentioned in her initial post - a second language, ability to work internationally. We live on the edge of our country. My husband works in a field where people are hired for their abilty to work with other countries. It isn't uncommon to bump yourself up to higher pay by taking a job overseas for awhile. When we began homeschooling, my husband and I discussed what the advantages and disadvantages were. This was one of the advantages that we discussed. If my children hadn't found a way to travel, we would have encouraged them to do a high school exchange program. I like what they did better, despite its not having the same advantages language-wise. Among other things, it was cheap this way, there was a strong ethical and improving-your-world componant, and they got to see more of the world. And I didn't have to give them up for more than the length of a tourist visa lol. Giving them up for a whole year in high school would have been very hard for me. I would have done it, though, rather than just raise them in this tiny town. I want them to know that they live in a big, beautiful world as well as a big, beautiful country. I want them to value home and family and culture. I want to give them an edge, job-wise, when they are adults.

 

Julie, it sounds as if you have found a way to do many of these things by bringing them to you rather than sending your children to them. That is great! Our house is too small to host an exchange student and my community is the opposite of diverse. This was the best I could manage. : )

 

What a good discussion!

Nan

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My husband works in a field where people are hired for their abilty to work with other countries. It isn't uncommon to bump yourself up to higher pay by taking a job overseas for awhile.

Since my former job was mainly project management, I had worked for only MNCs. The higher level engineers who were dispatched to other countries for 2-3 years all have higher pay and promotions after they came back. It is especially common for engineers from other continents to come over and go back to be promoted to engineering managers.

Another thing is, my intern was at a Norwegian Oil MNC. The president and vice-president of the asia pacific headquarters are engineers dispatch from Norway. It was like a "tour of duty" to them. The HQ president's pay was above $2mil before perks at that time, 1995. After three years they go back to Norway with promotions waiting.

I did get extra pay allowance for having to fly out of the country at the drop of a hat. I am such a city girl that big cities with their gang and drugs problems is still less scary than the big countryside where it is a long walk to my immediate neighbor's home.

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Hi Julie!!!
I do think the most important place to be is the one that is right for you spiritually and that can be at home or abroad and no one can insist to anyone else that they should be somewhere else than where they are.

ETD - too moved by Julie's post...and things seemed somehow irrelevant...
ETA - I've put it back in at Julie's request - but her post, below, did make me think differently somehow and I don't want to be ...(there's some word which is escaping me and I have to leave in a few minutes for a visit to CERN :-)
_____

Who am I to say where someone should be? It's kind of like telling people about homeschooling...I think the first few years I wanted to get everyone I knew to homeschool. Very quickly I came to see that each person has their own unique path and homeschooling might be a very bad choice for some people. I can't guarantee what will happen either good or bad in someone else's home (just like the gov can't guarantee that every public school experience will be positive either. :-)). So we all need to be exercised spiritually about what is right for us and our children.

As Laura says, it's quite possible to learn about the world through wide-reading and meeting people who are different from oneself in the homeland....but the comment about waking up adrift in a foreign land reminded me of our time in Malaysia where it was so hot that we slept with the windows open - due to not liking air-conditioning...Our windows - all on one side of the house - seemed to be perfectly aligned with the speakers on the local mosque which had a man making the very loud call to morning prayer every morning

 

And there are lots of experiences which others have which I and my children will not...Eg. children getting to visit their grandparents every week/month or whenever. We have no family support living abroad - which can be positive or negative....Third culture children have their own special challenges to overcome which can be quite profound (that's jumping a generation as the article is talking about just going away during college - but as Nan said, it's possible to meet and marry abroad with the effects of that)...

Traveling can be just another distraction from dealing with the deep questions of life and/or lead to an inflated sense of one's own sense of self-worth - just through having to navigate all the waters of unusual living circumstances and surviving and sometimes thriving :-). Sometimes we don't even ask those questions until we've been confronted with situations outside our comfort zone...but those situations can arise at home just as well as abroad.

It can be useful for some jobs though, which is why I originally posted....
 

I keep thinking of joining in on this conversation, but keep getting very conflicted.


Julie - I think you ask some great questions and have very interesting reflections about this...so actually, at one level, I'm glad you are feeling conflicted because then you discuss :-) I'm going to change the order of your questions/statements as I think this one is most important to address first...
 

In the end, I guess I feel a little defensive about folks classifying Americans as being narrow minded just because they can't afford international experiences, especially when Americans may well have more miles of experience than well-traveled internationals, and some variety of cultural experience right here.


I think all cultures and peoples tend to be narrow-minded in one (or more) ways or another... So while some Americans might not be traveling abroad, they might be more open to having foreigners in their homes than say, someone living in the middle of the mountains in Switzerland or in Papau New Guinea. Some people have narrow culinary tastes, some people are narrow minded about their capacity to be able to do things themselves and instead insist on hiring an expert, etc, etc.... Narrowmindedness that belittles others is the worst in my opinion and happens in cultures all over the world. So personally I see different Americans differently and see how every culture and even every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses.

In addition - miles in and of themselves don't necessarily mean anything...it is what one is open to no matter whether there are many miles or few. And not every openness is necessarily positive either. You mention unawaited pregnancies...Then there are drug and other addictions - I don't think we have to be open to everything. It's quite possible to be too open and trusting. But that is another discussion...Then again, openness to those who do things differently would probably help overcome some problems in cultures or areas that tend to be monocultural in thinking...

About miles - there are some Europeans who tend to go to Club Meds when they go abroad. They're just looking for one type of experience. They have a bit of different beach and staff who speak another language, but they're not really looking for a culturally different experience....But that's their choice of how to spend their money and time....And you can travel in a tour group and never leave the cultural nest either, all the while gazing on pyramids or the Alps or wild animals in Africa...

In writing all this, I'm starting to feel even a sense of consumerism in my mentality...Even if I'm just thinking of going abroad to broaden my horizons...With the state of international travel, working, and living, experiences can be very "me" oriented...

The other evening I went to a presentation about India....numbers and experience are mind boggling...the situation of women and girls...if you talk about a billion people, suddenly the little 8 million of Switzerland is a teensy population and "normal" becomes the daily life of people in India, or China, or other large populations around the world...especially the ones that live on $1/day.
 

And, I feel a little conflicted about whether it's best to prioritize those international experiences above family and charity and other important ways to spend one's time and money??? I just don't know what to conclude.


It might be possible to manage to go abroad one time....but it's hard to say for any individual person what is best for him or her - I certainly can't automatically say it will be great....It can take us humans so long to see things from another perspective...(speaking from personal experience)

Do you all prioritize foreign travel above, say, travel to visit one's family in other states?

It's true that in times past, there might only have been enough funds to travel to visit family across the US once in a person's childhood. (That happened for me with cousins in CA). But there are times when possibilities can open up as an older student...scholarships, etc...
 

Also, what about the fact that one is choosing to leave family and friends, in order to live alongside strangers? My grandmother loved to travel abroad and spoke well of those she may have met for only a day, and as a kid I sometimes felt she enjoyed their company more than mine. Do you prioritize individual travel over, say, a trip taken with a group of extended family (which obviously would have less cultural immersion since you would be emphasizing the enjoyment of being with your family)?

I think your questions have individual answers depending on the life circumstances of each person - so you can't have a blanket answer...

It's sometimes hard to tell what effect our statements will have on others (in relation to your grandmother)...the human heart does tend towards egotism :-) or should it be :-(?
 

I personally would not consider sending a minor child abroad alone unless they had a personal passion that could not be satisfied any other way (like Nan's kids, maybe). I've just known kids who did not have very, uh, educational experiences as exchange students, such as ending up pregnant. I like homeschooling, so entrusting my children to be schooled by strangers just because they're in another country seems more like a public school choice or something.


I do agree too that it is possible to get 'lost' at home and abroad - it happened to me in both places...

I agree about not sending minors abroad if they are not extremely well "encadrés", a French word I put in because the English translations don't have an equivalent feel so I'll try to explain....You could translate it "boxed" and "surrounded" to try to give you the idea of how they should be watched over with this caring and careful concern - but not imprisoned - there's a notion of guidance within it as well. But it's not like the police or something, and not like an impersonal monitoring...It's so hard to explain in English - maybe a native French speaker can do better...The article was about university level exchange - and even there I would have reservations...For me it's a long process of raising children with conversations, other adults with values that I have, but probably most of all, with spiritual guidance. Even with those things though, it's not always possible to prevent some things from happening...
 

In addition, we've had many international contacts just by being right here in Minnesota. We hired a student from China as a babysitter, and we got to know his wife and child when they came over here. We hosted a gal from France in our home via a French language program, and a gal from New Zealand via a Girl Scout camp program. When I worked at Kumon, most of my workmates and my students were from India, China, and Somalia. Etc. I never felt from any of these contacts that they were more international-minded than we are here. They were all people, with quirks and flaws. Most of the French students had taken English for 8 years and couldn't speak to us, and their interests were over at the Mall of America. The others were mostly interested in learning the American accent, rather than our speaking their language.


Here I do have to disagree with you - not that I'm insisting that people travel abroad - just insisting that it is a completely different experience to meet someone on your turf compared to meeting them on theirs. It's been hard for us with some relatives that have never once visited over here. They have little clue of the challenges we face nor understanding of how different life can be when there's no family around to help or hinder, the stores aren't open in the evening, when public transport is a given, when it's normal for college students to live at home or come home every weekend and that they might not learn to drive until they're 21, what it's like to have to do all the administrative tasks in a foreign language, what it's like to live in cultures where history is ever-present with buildings and trees that are hundreds of years old in your neighborhood, how hard it can be to have deep connections in cultures which tend to be "closed", etc....

Some people have a good imagination and can try to imagine...But when they haven't experienced something, they don't even know what questions to ask - even if they were interested - unless they've somehow had some experience, even in literature, to help them imagine what it's like to be trying to drag your baby, stroller, and luggage off the overnight boat from one part of China to another with a hundred Chinese men rushing past you and no one offering to help. :-) Suddenly the hospitality and helpfulness of Americans, on the metro or wherever is an amazing quality :-) (That's minor compared to other cultural differences, just that nothing else is coming to mind at the moment)
__________ end of edited part

I'd like to think that experiencing a vast array of the foibles of humanity would make me a more patient and understanding person - but sometimes it doesn't even change my impatience with one of my own children. So in that sense, traveling did not overcome my own 'fleshly' nature....It helps in some circumstances but not others....

Spiritually it's been useful for me to travel/live in countries where people experience a much lower standard of living as well as traveling/living in countries where there are extensive ruins that help one realize the past better (but only with previous appreciation for ancient history - otherwise those old stones just look like piles of useless rocks)...

The one takes me out of my material comfort zone and the other helps put humanity into perspective....growing up in the US I was extremely present / future oriented....

Joan

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Joan,

 

Irrelevant to this thread topic but a funny that I thought I'll just post. My ex-CFO (chief financial officer/controller) who is American met his Korean wife while outstation in Korea for a few years. His family was than outstation to Japan and Hong Kong. After that his family was posted to Singapore with frequent flying in the region. He learnt Korean in Korean, enough cantonese to buy food in Hong Kong, enough hokkien to understand swearing in Malaysia and Singapore. He didn't learn japanese though but he could have been outstation there for less than a year.

Add to that the double taxation (income tax) and his kids changing international schools every few years and its very interesting. He is a nice humble "dry humor" kind of guy.

The call to prayers is five times a day, the earliest is probably 5:30am. I can sleep through those. Another interesting thing is that my childhood home is near a church whose clock tower rings (melodious bell) every hour. It is kind of nice and I miss that.

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I keep thinking of joining in on this conversation, but keep getting very conflicted.

 

I do think international relations are important, and am tempted to consider traveling abroad (hi Joan!).

 

The other conflict I have is that some of you seem to think Americans are narrow minded since they don't value international travel. Yet, I think of folks who have traveled over the 2,000-mile span of the USA and that might be further than folks travel when visiting 10 countries on other continents. Does that count as exposure to life outside our own coccoon? We're a country of almost 4,000 square miles, and we are not all the same by any stretch of the imagination, including the many internationals within our borders (Minnesota has a large population from Somalia and Vietnam, for instance). Anyways, we're almost a whole continent, or we are a continent if you take a little jaunt into Canada and Mexico on occasion.

 

In addition, we've had many international contacts just by being right here in Minnesota.

Julie

 

I think it is a very different experience meeting people from another continent in your one turf and actually visiting those places. Like Joan said, there are lots of things that you will not understand well unless you see it and live it. I lived in the Uk before moving to California. I did not understand the concept of not using a public transport. That was what most people did in London. Even those that have cars don't use it a lot during the weekday as they mostly take the tube to work. Coming to the Bay Area and not having as frequent a bus system definitely took some getting used to.

 

Also, I don't think most Americans are narrow minded, there is a lot to experience in this country itself but you will be amazed at the number of people who have never traveled 100 miles out of their city of residence. When I loved in the Bay Area, I knew lots of people in my CC class that lived in the east bay and have never crossed either the Golden Gate Bridge or bay bridge to go to San Francisco. It just shocked me.

 

Like Arcadia, we have most of our family abroad, so going to visit family is taking a $6k trip so we dont visit often, but we make good use of it by visiting other areas and exposing the kids to other cultures close to where we are staying. Even visiting Canada is visiting family and friends for us.

 

My kids are still small but we plan on having them spend maybe 3 months or so when they are teens abroad to live somewhere else and see what else hey an experience.

 

I had asked about study abroad programs and Nan and some other ladies here gave me good advice about checking the local rotary clubs so may do that. There is also a French exchange program here that allows you to send your child abroad to learn French after you have hosted a child from France here for about 6 weeks. That is something we will also consider when the time comes.

I don't think international travel is for everyone, but for those who are interested, it might be great to be bale to find resources to help accomplish that goal as it is very expensive.

 

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He is a nice humble "dry humor" kind of guy.

 

 

The call to prayers is five times a day, the earliest is probably 5:30am. I can sleep through those. Another interesting thing is that my childhood home is near a church whose clock tower rings (melodious bell) every hour. It is kind of nice and I miss that.

 

Your ex-boss sounds like a down-to-earth guy...

 

We were only about two blocks away - the other times of day didn't phase me at all. It's been more than 20 years though - so I forgot the exact time.

 

Isn't it funny about the sounds we grow up with? I grew up near a railroad track with long freight trains that had to whistle the whole two mile length of the town (and some conductors seemed to have a perverse sense about wanting to wake people or something) because there weren't barriers at the crossing as the roads just went to the riverside, so it wasn't worth it to install them. Dh always has trouble sleeping when we go back but I can still sleep right through...But for some reason dd loves the sound...

 

Joan

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Thanks a lot. I will need to check out he rotary clubs around here. We do have family living abroad, mostly Europe so maybe we can start planning and saving. Thanks again

 

 

Another option, especially if you have family or friends abroad, is to have your high schooler study at a language academy instead of trying to get the into a full high school program. We've done http://www.probigua.org/files/en/index-1.html for our oldest child and then our next dd studied German in Vienna at http://www.deutschakademie.at/ . Actually our third child is currently there- living with friends while attending the school.

 

The costs can be very very low for expert instruction. It's the airfare that really hurts.

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Joan - I loved your recent post. The Club Med example is great. There are times when we have traveled with a tourist, entertain-me mentality. And other times when our focus is very different. I, too, worry about how me-oriented some of this all is. My husband and I did think ahead and decide we wanted our children to have the edge that a more international outlook gives in the working world, but it wasn't just that. We also wanted our children to have the confidence, the patience, the insight and awareness of the people we know who have lived internationally. Lived, not just touristed. I think it is like many things in life - one gets out of it what one puts into it. But I also worry about preciousness and priviledge. (Probably mangling all sorts of spelling - sorry.) I'm not sure I"m making much sense lol.

 

Nan

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On this topic, we have been looking at volunteer opportunities for middle ds abroad. We found a one summer gig, trail maintenance and other "forest ranger" type work in Iceland. He's studying Icelandic now independently and starts lessons in August over skype with an Icelandic/multi-lingual language professor from Oxford. He really wants to go on this trip. However, he needs to be 18. Since he was raring to go at 4, I started him out that young and he'll be entering college right before his 18th birthday unless we give him a gap year. Unfortunately, a gap year doesn't fit well with his plan since he's planning on going through his master's and PH.D without breaks and then hoping to work for my cousin as an ecology/environmental science researcher. Seeing how much college study is ahead of him, he's torn because he doesn't want to delay a year getting started, but he'd also REALLY like to spend a summer in Iceland doing something that he is so passionate about and at that point, having studied Icelandic for four years, seeing how well his foreign language studies have gone.

 

If we'd waited until he was five to begin formal school work, he would have had the time to go to Iceland between high school graduation and the start of the first semester of college.

 

Hindsight is always 20/20. Of course, he would have been bored if I had delayed a year with school work so it might not have worked very well either.

 

Back to the drawing board looking for opportunities for my minor child.

 

Faith

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What a great conversation to start on this morning! I love that all of you shared even more experiences - so much more of a treasure than just theoretical, at least for my particular brain. I often choose novels simply because the author is willing to share a spot in the world that I will never experience (even if I were to travel). I do enjoy our human variety.

 

I have traveled a lot in the US. Between high school and college, 3 months to a year in each spot (maybe shouldn't admit this, but was a part of a sort of a cult, sold a lot of flowers :) ). I walked and subway-ed for months in New York City, sat with Texas sherifs and felt as powerless as if I were in the Old West, walked onto ships from far-away countries without a clue, enjoyed the delicate spring of the Georgian countryside. I also have traveled a lot as an adult - my grandma I mentioned lived in San Diego and always wanted me to experience the Hispanic influence; my uncle lived in L.A. and didn't tell me that "let's go to the movies" meant 1.5 hours in a convertible on a hot freeweay; my brother-in-law lives and works in Yosemite National Park and we found the only way in from the east is up a cliff... Not to mention that I was raised an Air Force brat, and went to 5 elementary schools in 6 years (maybe this is the real source of my conflict!).

 

I just share to show that there is a rich variety in the US similar to most experiences described. The language barrier isn't necessarily there, but there is a language problem in some cases. My youngest spends a lot of time with a gal whose Korean mom speaks very little English. Two of my friends have sons-in-law who don't seem very interested in learning English, so they are working on their Spanish. Even within English speakers, I was in a near-brawl in New York when a lovely North Carolina Girl Scout trainer asked for a drink in a NYC cafe, leading to an extensive arguement about "we don't sell drinks here" vs. "I know you sell drinks, everybody sells drinks, just as a tiny example with some humor in it :) There are less humorous examples as well...

 

Anyways, I'm just trying to sort out in my mind something that you guys have touched on that seems so very important, yet... my conflicted thoughts about it. Even with my son who is in a field with a lot of travel, I wonder about potentially missing years with him. And family is so important to me that I worry about my kids finding a far-away person or place they loved -- why couldn't they love here instead? By the way, I wasn't judging on the pregnancy thing -- I was pregnant at 15 myself (I'm a birthmother). It's just that in addition to everything else, a baby with family on different continents would surely be torn, and so would his grandmother (me?!). I've seen it in those around me, but often in cases of necessity due to poverty, which is different than heading out for life enrichment.

 

I do know folks who have lived in other countries and loved the experience -- my oldest son's best friend is a very tall, skinny, white kid who's went back to China several times (business school, job), but because the boys have been on such different travel journeys even in the US, it seems like friendship has to be different than the kind where you are there for one another's moves and and such. My friend lived in Japan as an English teacher when her dd was in elementary school, and she has lived in many US states, but I just am not convinced those impermanent friendships are somehow better. I'm still thinking on it. I surely see how it's the preferred track for some. Thanks to those who have chimed in with more experiences and thoughts. Wonderful stuff to think about, like getting a lot of free novels and bios here!

 

Julie

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It's just that in addition to everything else, a baby with family on different continents would surely be torn, and so would his grandmother (me?!).

.....,Wonderful stuff to think about, like getting a lot of free novels and bios here!

 

The main reason we flew back home last year despite the cost was that hubby's granny is approaching a hundred years old. I didn't want the first time my kids fly home to be for a funeral. I also want my hubby to get to see his granny alive and well (other than dementia) at least one time for the same reason. So I can totally understand the conflicted emotions. I get to Skype once a week with my parents but I still wish that we are not an ocean away.

One of the things I did enjoyed while on business trips was listening to slightly drunk colleagues talking about funny or embarassing things that happen to them. It is kind of a "let your hair down" and be safely embarassed supper party at the hotel cafe. The thing about using the same corporate hotels for business trips is that the hotel manager recognised you on sight and knows your preferences without looking at his computer :o

 

ETA:

I have a niece who went to Australia to study, married an australian and migrate for good because her hubby could not find a job elsewhere. I also have a few friends who studied abroad and migrated because of jobs. We are here because of job too, hubby could not find his ideal job back home eventhough he had a job. His current job is closer to his ideal.

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There are times when we have traveled with a tourist, entertain-me mentality. And other times when our focus is very different. I, too, worry about how me-oriented some of this all is.

 

snip

 

But I also worry about preciousness and privilege.

 

I hear you Nan....

 

but what do you mean by "preciousness" (I can understand privilege)?

 

 

I just share to show that there is a rich variety in the US similar to most experiences described.

 

Your post really moves me Julie and I've deleted most of mine...somehow it seems irrelevant...

 

ETA - I put it back in now at Julie's request. (post # 84)

 

Joan

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I studied abroad years ago as a science major in France. I took chemistry class as a "programmed learning" correspondence course with my American university and I was able to set up a "lab tutorial" to get my labs done abroad. I took 2 psych classes (perception and developmental) at the French university (I had made up my own neuroscience major which had not yet been standardized or invented!). I found the science classes very difficult at first due to my language deficiency but, I taped all the lectures and tutorial sections and eventually was able to keep up quite well. Needless to say, I spoke/listened to a lot less English than the other Americans in my group. To this day I still think of perception and child development in "French" terms.

My dd is a bio major and her school recommends waiting until jr. year to go abroad as coursework at that point is mostly seminars and special-subjects electives which apparently are more easily done than "general" "required" courses. We shall see.

Joan thanks for this, my eldest dd is thinking of going to grad school in Europe. She will apply directly to the universities she is interested in. She would like to go to UK or France to do Art History or Philosophy.....She wants to work for a year first, and then she will know more what she is interested in doing more academic work in. A China 1/2 year is not out of the question.

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Even with my son who is in a field with a lot of travel, I wonder about potentially missing years with him. And family is so important to me that I worry about my kids finding a far-away person or place they loved -- why couldn't they love here instead?... It's just that in addition to everything else, a baby with family on different continents would surely be torn, and so would his grandmother (me?!). I've seen it in those around me, but often in cases of necessity due to poverty, which is different than heading out for life enrichment.

 

 

For us, emigrating to the US, far away from all family, has been a necessity, because that's where DH could find a job in his field. It is difficult to be away from family and old friends, and it is not always a matter of choice.

 

I would not want to discourage my children from travel just because I am afraid that the might permanently stay in a foreign country. I am very glad that my parents, who I know miss me, are not asking me about coming back - that would only make it harder.

 

And most young people who go abroad to work and study do eventually come back home, enriched. I always wanted to work in a foreign country, so I came to the US for a post doc in CA, while my DH was doing a postdoc in OR. We spent two fabulous years in this country and then happily went back home to Germany. We spent a year in England, which was again a totally different experience. It was not until several years later that we came here permanently.

 

Living in a different country IMO can not be compared to traveling within the US - even with all the diversity here, there is a common language and mainly common culture; even the immigrants who bring their own customs consider themselves Americans and "belong". It is different when you encounter foreigners on their own turf, so to speak, where you are in the role of the stranger. I doubt that for an American traveling within the US, this feeling of being a stranger, an outsider, ever really manifests to the same degree. I have traveled extensively in the US, and despite all the differences, to me it bears no resemblance to foreign travel.

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there was a post right above this that turned out to be spam. But at the time it said that someone "liked" it which was confusing....

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I continue to appreciate the thoughtful conversation and the topic Joan has started. Thanks for tolerating my interruption. And Arcadia, thanks for chiming in with some more good stories - love it :) And Regentrude, I'm always interested when you talk about Germany; my grandfather only spoke German until he learned English in school.

 

I've talked with Joan a bit and I think we've noticed some hidden conflicts within me, regarding my last child leaving the nest soon (he's visiting colleges in Denver right now) and upcoming decisions about my own future. These things, plus losing my husband a year ago, have probably made me conflicted between the good sides of moving or travel experiences or venturing into the world in missions or other things out there, vs. family and home and keeping the dearest things close and making sure I make these my priorities.

 

I recognize many of you have seen clearly that you crave to travel or you are convicted about the value of being internationally experienced or you just needed to venture into the world in order to support your family, but I wasn't finding a similar clear conclusion in my own mind. In time, it may appear, but meanwhile I'll continue to read your interesting conversation in case it helps :)

 

Julie

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I had taken a few days off from this conversation. What a lovely thing to awaken to! Wishing you were all here with me this morning so that I could offer a cup of coffee or tea.

 

Julie, you in your last post you wrote

I recognize many of you have seen clearly that you crave to travel..

That would be me. Yet over the last two decades (those with child), we have had to compromise on whether we wished to travel to new places or whether we wanted to travel to a summer enclave at which friends and family gather. By spending time in the latter, we offered our son a community rich in love and intellectual stimulation. Yet it was a known place with known people. A comfortable habit but not one that completely satisfies the cravings...

 

Having grown up in one region of the country, living in another, spending chunks of the summer in yet another, I see the regional differences that Julie mentioned. And I agree that we live in a gorgeous country! (Why do people go to Disney when we have such amazing national parks and state parks?) When my son was looking at colleges, I actively encouraged him to consider schools in other regions so that he could get the sense that we are not quite the homogeneous people that we are portrayed to be.

 

My son has just returned from a local archaeological field school. The work was great but he was disappointed in the students. He said he is feeling old and that he had little in common with them. He preferred associating with the professors leading the dig, the older assistants (one of whom is married to a man from another country; the other is ex-military who has traveled the world) and one of the older students who had some life experiences. Maybe it is just awkward to throw a group of people who don't know each other together in living accommodations for a short, intense bit of time. This is all quite different from the field school he did last summer in Britain, the one to which he returns at the end of the month. Is it too pat for me to say that those students are more mature? Not all were--I know that from stories told last summer. Maybe the greater isolation of the British program (no electricity on site, everyone in their own tent) forces the students to interact with each other when not working. They can't zone out in front of televisions and computers.

 

Travel shakes us out of our comfort zones (assuming we are not going to Club Med!) Every mass transit system can be a new experience. Cross the border to Canada and go to a restaurant. Poutin? Walk around a German city on a Sunday to witness multi-generational families strolling together. Where I live I sometimes feel that walking is exercise--done for sport in its own set of clothes. There are those of us who regularly stroll after dinner but we are singles or couples--not multiple generations.

 

Am I a better person for having witnessed things done differently? Of course not. But I want to believe that travel gives me the occasional pause to ask the question "Must we do things this way?" For people who don't want their comfort zones interrupted, perhaps they don't want to hear the question being asked. Some of us are just naturally asking the question though. Probably those of us who have certain cravings...

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I recognize many of you have seen clearly that you crave to travel or you are convicted about the value of being internationally experienced or you just needed to venture into the world in order to support your family, but I wasn't finding a similar clear conclusion in my own mind.

 

In rereading my post below, just to warn you, some ideas seem contradictory which you can chalk up to uncertainty of where life will lead for us....

 

You know, Julie, I think there are also seasons of life....You did a lot of traveling in your youth :-).

 

There are times when I say to myself, if I would never travel outside of Switzerland again, it wouldn't bother me. I feel like I've done much more than my "share" of traveling - if each person on the planet were alotted their fair share. But my nuclear family doesn't feel the same and my larger family is not nearby - so I'm basically "forced" to travel - as my sibs have too many children and can't make a trip here a priority yet...And my MIL refuses to come (she has never yet been here), etc. Sometimes dh travels for work and wants me along....So I try to learn the most I can from the trips...

 

My husband likes to talk about the R7 gene - his take on it is that there is a group of people who want to 'go over the next hill' and that it is what has enabled the human race to spread around the globe. I'm not sure that scientists all agree about the gene and it's functions but it does seem that there are people who are happy at home and others who are happy to wander. And some change with age....in either direction.

 

I remember as a late teen when some relative told my mom about a job I could have in Belgium as an 'au pair'.

 

I was instantly ready to go even when, and here's how bad my geography comprehension was at the time, I had no clue where Belgium was! Well, I thought it was a European city!!! Can you imagine? Yes, you can have a good laugh at me - and it gives me compassion for those who don't know where places are...

 

And then things can happen in life which take a lot of energy away from 'adventuring'...or we need to focus on things closer to home....

 

On the other hand...

 

If I didn't have any responsibilities here any more - I'd like to go to India to teach English. Not to travel, but because I feel so spoiled with all these beautiful mountains and scenery around me. I think of all the people who have barely enough to eat and young people who are earning a living recycling things from the dump and I ask - who am I to deserve this luxurious life? There's nothing that I have done to deserve this luxury of good healthy food every day (that I choose to make wise choices that is)? a house where i can go to a room apart from everyone else and have quiet reflection and reading (or typing on the WTM forums)? good doctors? where I can walk into the city or bike there - on quiet streets? It's quite beyond my imagination when I see pictures of people sifting the dirt for seeds to plant in the next planting time, and hear that more than 50% of Camaroonians are unemployed (according to their gov critics)...The disparities in what people experience on this planet are so incomprehensible...You can look up at the clear blue sky and things seem so peaceful yet there can be terrible suffering and atrocities happening at the exact same moment elsewhere on the planet.

 

So what does all this have to do with this thread? Perhaps little or perhaps a lot....I look back and think that I've learned how to adjust to very simplified circumstances eg sleeping on the dirt floor in a hut with a bunch of children in an African country and think that and other experiences have prepared me for flexibility in the future...Though again, there are times when more "changes" seem impossible due to emotional circumstances. But I think of all the people displaced by war and national strife who don't have a roof over their heads. Who am I to deserve a roof over my head? stability in the country of residence?

 

But maybe this is all personal preparation for what I need to do later in life....And staying in one place and supporting people who are having trouble is a completely legitimate service for humanity - if one thinks of life in those terms....And then teaching and other responsibilities are important too. The whole population of developed countries can't just migrate to the underdeveloped areas of the planet either....

 

So I guess it all boils down to one thing I said in post # 84... that we each have different places (sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent) in life at different times in our lives.

 

Joan

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My husband likes to talk about the R7 gene - his take on it is that there is a group of people who want to 'go over the next hill' and that it is what has enabled the human race to spread around the globe. I'm not sure that scientists all agree about the gene and it's functions but it does seem that there are people who are happy at home and others who are happy to wander. And some change with age....in either direction.

I'm so intrigued by that. As we studied history, even as we read books like Little House on the Prairie, I found myself asking why life was never "good enough" for these folks, mostly the dads/men who wanted to go over the next horizon, have land, establish a better government, or whatever. I always felt I was misplaced in America, this land with a particularly adventurous gene pool based on the fact that most everyone here came from someone who left home, so to speak. I decided I would have been "ma" and gone along with my husband, but I wouldn't have been the one to say, "Let's move!"

 

However, I do definitely have a gene for the kind of mission service you talked about. That might get me back in the R7 gene pool :)

 

Julie

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