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Vent. Five hour picnic after 20+ hours of travel


Garga
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An exchange student arrives at our house on Wednesday. He's 17.

 

On Wednesday, this is the travelling the group of students will have done:

 

Traveled from their houses to the airport in Europe.

Sat in the airport for however long people in Europe sit (1 or 2 hours before flight maybe?)

12 hour flight.

Go through customs/get bags in an American airport.

Travel a 3 hour drive from the airport to the city where the host families are.

Travel from the city to the host families houses (our house is 1 hour, 15 min from the meeting place.)

 

That's 18 hours at minimum, and more like 20 if everything goes well, and easily more than 20 if there are any snags along the way.

 

When the student arrives at my house, it will feel like 2 in the morning to him. If I quickly show the student around the house, teach him how to use the ladder out the window (in case of fire), and give him time in the bathroom, it'll feel like 3 in the morning to him before he goes to bed, though it'll be 9 (at minimum) here.

 

Here's where I'm upset:

 

The group leader has set up a 5 hour "orientation and picnic" at a park 1.5 hours from my home from 2-7 the very next day.

 

HUH?

 

The very next day...after 20 hours of travel and uneasy sleep in a new place, after getting to bed at 3 in the morning, the students will have to be up and ready to go on a 2.5 hour round trip to a park in 90 degree HUMID heat for 5 hours. In a state that's showing high indications for ticks (with Lyme) this year.

 

URGH.

 

Why? Why make people who are exhausted from traveling go to a park for 5 hours? We are all strangers to each other. There will be 20 kids who don't know each other, and who knows how many host families who all don't know each other, all at a park. In the heat. With the ticks.

 

Speaking of ticks, I'm feeling ticked about the whole thing. And there is a river there to wade and swim in, so I'll be schlepping tick spray, sunblock, towels, snacks, hats, inner tubes, water shoes, a snack for us, drinks for us, a snack to share, and whatever else you have to take to water/picnic events....yuck.

 

I'm here venting because DH is trying really hard to let me vent, but it's 11 at night and he's tired and I just can't get over the fact that they set this up. They're not saying it's mandatory to attend, they are saying it's strongly encouraged and that they really want the students there and as many host family members as possible. On the literature that the students received about what would be included on their trip, it talked about a family picnic after they arrive, so the students will be expecting it. I can't really just blow it off.

 

And the culture that the student is coming from is known for being exceedingly social. So, the student will probably want to go just to be with everyone, even if he's exhausted and doesn't know anything about ticks with Lyme.

 

I'm upset at the leader for choosing this event the very next day after they arrive. Why couldn't they have set it up to skip a day, so the students could rest and have quiet conversations with their host families before having this picnic?

 

They said there will be 20 minutes of orientation for the students. They could do those 20 minutes on the 3 hour bus ride from the airport when they arrive. I just don't get it at all.

Edited by Garga_
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I'm sorry.  That does sound like poor planning, and not very thoughtful of the students!

That's what I was thinking. These kids are going to be exhausted and then have to run around the next day. Before I got news of the 5 hour picnic, I'd planned a lovely day of a buffet of breakfast choices, discussions about snack food the students like, a trip around town to see what our (tiny 1 mile square) town was like, making homemade pizzas for dinner, spending time with dh after he got home from work (won't happen now. We won't be home until 8:30, so my dh will miss pretty much the entire first day with the student.)

 

It was going to be an easy day where we get to know each other and the student could rest up. Because after that, we're going to do lots of fun things, but that first day was for recupperating.

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I have to get my venting out now, because when the student arrives, I'm going to present myself as calm as a cucumber and act like this picnic will be just wonderful. I'll do my best to give him the space to rest. I'll get all the picnic stuff ready the day before he gets here and have it all packed in the car. He can doze in the car if he wants to.

 

I think the picnic itself will be lovely. But on another day, after a day of rest.

 

ETA: This venting works. I'm feeling a little better about it, just by typing it out. From the student's point of view, maybe it'll be ok after all. He can sleep for 12 hours if he wants to and still be up by 9 or 10 in the morning. We can still have a buffet of breakfast choices. He can rest in the car and be as active as he likes at the park. It'll probably all work out in the end. Typing it out makes it all seem better.

Edited by Garga
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I think I would send a polite email letting the group leader know that while you will make every effort to attend this year if possible (leave yourself an out in case maybe the kid really isn't up for it?) that they should consider in the future creating a little cushion for students to get over jet lag and adjust to new surroundings, maybe having the picnic a couple of days later or over the first weekend. Sounds like they need a wake up call and someone should speak up for those poor tired teens!

 

I wouldn't mention the location, ticks, or humidity. Although I totally agree and that part sucks. Maybe they need a visit from Captain Obvious?

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming
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I guess there's a bright side, then.  I was also thinking of how much I would hate milling about for 5 hours with a bunch of people I didn't know!  

 

It still would have made sense to give it another day of rest before doing the picnic, but is it possible it's a 24-hour check in of sorts?  Maybe an opportunity for the organizers to see the students and be sure things seem to be going well?

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I think I would send a polite email letting the group leader know that while you will make every effort to attend this year if possible (leave yourself an out in case maybe the kid really isn't up for it?) that they should consider in the future creating a little cushion for students to get over jet lag and adjust to new surroundings, maybe having the picnic a couple of days later or over the first weekend. Sounds like they need a wake up call and someone should speak up for those poor tired teens!

 

I wouldn't mention the location, ticks, or humidity. Although I totally agree and that part sucks. Maybe they need a visit from Captain Obvious?

 

I'm going to give them the feedback after the picnic. Because perhaps I'm completely wrong and it'll be the best part of the trip. :). I don't want to poo-poo about it now to anyone IRL in case I'm completely wrong. But if I'm not...then I'll let them know.

 

Five hours for a picnic seems long even if they weren't going to be traveling so far the day before. Your plan sounds much better.

 

At the meeting when they announced that it was an outdoor event for the families to attend (I had thought it was an indoor thing just for the students when I got the paperwork), I raised my hand and said, "What are we going to be doing for 5 whole hours?" And another woman said, "I was wondering that, too!" They said, "Oh, there are trails and a river to swim or wade in! And we'll have hotdogs!"

 

 

I guess there's a bright side, then. I was also thinking of how much I would hate milling about for 5 hours with a bunch of people I didn't know!

 

It still would have made sense to give it another day of rest before doing the picnic, but is it possible it's a 24-hour check in of sorts? Maybe an opportunity for the organizers to see the students and be sure things seem to be going well?

That's a good point about a check in. Maybe they can tell right away if something isn't right. The organization has been doing this for 30 years, so maybe this is SOP. I just wish it could have been in a fire hall or something and only for 2 hours. Even if it was outdoors, 2 or 3 would have been plenty. But 5 hours! With a huge group of strangers! Yikes! Edited by Garga
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Just one potentially positive thing - it might help them get over their jet lag quicker. If you can get yourself into the routine of the place you are visiting you will get your body clock in tune more quickly. When you come from Europe you wake up really early and therefore want to go to bed really early. If you can get out and about and be active it can sometimes help the adjustment more than resting.

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From an adult perspective, it's absurd. From my kids' perspective, as homeschoolers who like to rest between everything, it would be absurd. To most 17 yos, especially social ones... meh.

 

I mean, I agree with you that it's weird planning. But I think to most teens it would be fine. Kids that age go hard and rest hard and then go hard again, IME.

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Just one potentially positive thing - it might help them get over their jet lag quicker. If you can get yourself into the routine of the place you are visiting you will get your body clock in tune more quickly. When you come from Europe you wake up really early and therefore want to go to bed really early. If you can get out and about and be active it can sometimes help the adjustment more than resting.

That's a good point. Hopefully, he'll have dozed on the plane or the bus.

 

  

From an adult perspective, it's absurd. From my kids' perspective, as homeschoolers who like to rest between everything, it would be absurd. To most 17 yos, especially social ones... meh.

 

I mean, I agree with you that it's weird planning. But I think to most teens it would be fine. Kids that age go hard and rest hard and then go hard again, IME.

I really hope so! My oldest is 14 and doesn't like to go-go-go, but I'm thinking that at 17, on a trip to America, from a social culture...yeah, this might be the Best Thing Ever from his point of view. Thanks for that perspective.

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From an adult perspective, it's absurd. From my kids' perspective, as homeschoolers who like to rest between everything, it would be absurd. To most 17 yos, especially social ones... meh.

 

I mean, I agree with you that it's weird planning. But I think to most teens it would be fine. Kids that age go hard and rest hard and then go hard again, IME.

I suppose it isn't much different from the constant go-go-go schedule at my DD's sleepover camp. They have a full schedule for the afternoon and evening on the first day that begins almost as soon as the kids arrive from various parts of the state and doesn't stop until camp is over.

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Maybe they do this picnic to ensure all the kids get a really fun first day. Maybe some families don't plan as well as you, and the organizers want the kids to not be disappointed.

 

This makes so much sense. They said to "do something special in the first 48 hours they're here." I thought, "As if anyone wouldn't! Duh!" But maybe if they have to say it, it's because some people don't. I have TONS of stuff planned for our student. I had a bunch of field trips planned for my boys for the 3 months of summer, and I've condensed them into one month so that the student can tag along. We're going on trips every other day at least.

 

I suppose it isn't much different from the constant go-go-go schedule at my DD's sleepover camp. They have a full schedule for the afternoon and evening on the first day that begins almost as soon as the kids arrive from various parts of the state and doesn't stop until camp is over.

Good point. I guess I was thinking with my 44 yo body. I'd be exhausted after 20 hours of travel and a 6 hour time difference. I'd feel hit by a truck. But teens are different....I think I'd better have some good protein snacks for that first day. Edited by Garga
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They said there will be 20 minutes of orientation for the students. They could do those 20 minutes on the 3 hour bus ride from the airport when they arrive. I just don't get it at all.

 

Does this mean he will be on a bus with other students he will see at the picnic? Maybe they won't be strangers by the time of the picnic if they have spoken on the bus.

 

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That's what I was thinking. These kids are going to be exhausted and then have to run around the next day. Before I got news of the 5 hour picnic, I'd planned a lovely day of a buffet of breakfast choices, discussions about snack food the students like, a trip around town to see what our (tiny 1 mile square) town was like, making homemade pizzas for dinner, spending time with dh after he got home from work (won't happen now. We won't be home until 8:30, so my dh will miss pretty much the entire first day with the student.)

 

It was going to be an easy day where we get to know each other and the student could rest up. Because after that, we're going to do lots of fun things, but that first day was for recupperating.

I like your plan. No pressure. Some kids, even teens, like to get a decent sleep. I agree with you that he picnic is too much. Also, what if there are plane delays/other traffic and kids arrive later than expected? What if someone has lost luggage that needs to be retrieved? No margin for error in organizer's plan.

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Honestly, *I* would hate it if I had to go, but I think it's not a big deal for an older teen, especially a foreign exchange student. This way they get to immediately be with other kids in their same situation, so it lends normalcy to their experience.

 

We've hosted in the past, and the group always does things like this, so it must be pretty common.

 

Most older high school exchange students, while they want to get to know their host families, are really hoping for a good time and big memories. Having a day where all the social networking is planned by someone else would be a relief, imo.

 

I would collapse if I had to do all that, so I feel for you there, but the teens will be fine.

 

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It doesn't sound like it would be fun for ME (5 hours outside in the heat with people I don't know sounds really unfun to me), but I bet the student will be just fine. Some of my kids I could definitely see being okay with that (middle child and youngest child would view it as 5 hours of adventure with a whole bunch of new friends to meet). You can give the student a good sleep and a leisurely morning and still have plenty of time to make the picnic.

 

If he looks like he's tired or is a quieter sort who doesn't enjoy all the socializing, perhaps you'll be able to leave the picnic after a few hours, citing your long drive home as a convenient reason for leaving.

 

You sound like you're an awesome host family! Well, I have no doubt that you are.

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Honestly, *I* would hate it if I had to go, but I think it's not a big deal for an older teen, especially a foreign exchange student. This way they get to immediately be with other kids in their same situation, so it lends normalcy to their experience.

 

We've hosted in the past, and the group always does things like this, so it must be pretty common.

 

Most older high school exchange students, while they want to get to know their host families, are really hoping for a good time and big memories. Having a day where all the social networking is planned by someone else would be a relief, imo.

 

I would collapse if I had to do all that, so I feel for you there, but the teens will be fine.

 

I don't know. My teen crashes and burns without decent sleep.

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I wouldn't like that, either. When I have traveled across several time zones (not often), my first day is a wash. I get a severe headache and at first, feel a lot of stress about mapping out all the new things. I am a person who needs a wide margin of Things I Understand before I can wade in to Things That Are Unfamiliar.

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I wouldn't like that, either. When I have traveled across several time zones (not often), my first day is a wash. I get a severe headache and at first, feel a lot of stress about mapping out all the new things. I am a person who needs a wide margin of Things I Understand before I can wade in to Things That Are Unfamiliar.

 

Yeah that first day is THE WORST.  First time I went to Germany my now DH planned 100,000 things for the day I arrived.  He didn't know and was excited so I get it, but man did I feel awful.  And I was young.  Not a teen, but gee 22 maybe. 

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Flying West is /significantly/ easier on the body than going East. So that's a plus. Teens are resilient, so that's a plus. Adrenaline will help (new place, fun...etc) so that's a plus.

 

I think if you let them know they can ask to leave if they're tired it'll be totally fine.

Edited by FriedClams
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Flying West is /significantly/ easier on the body than going East. So that's a plus. Teens are resilient, so that's a plus. Adrenaline will help (new place, fun...etc) so that's a plus.

 

I think if you let them know they can ask to leave if they're tired it'll be totally fine.

 

This is true in my experience as well.

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Flying West is /significantly/ easier on the body than going East. So that's a plus. Teens are resilient, so that's a plus. Adrenaline will help (new place, fun...etc) so that's a plus.

I think if you let them know they can ask to leave if they're tired it'll be totally fine.

Good point that I can tell him it'll be ok to leave early if we must. If I'm pushed too much and don't get proper rest, I start to feel like I'm getting sick: headachy, weak. I'll let him know that I'm ok with whatever he wants to do: to stay for the whole thing, or to go early if he's feeling worn out. I don't want him to be miserable but feel uncomfortable telling me.

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Maybe they do this picnic to ensure all the kids get a really fun first day. Maybe some families don't plan as well as you, and the organizers want the kids to not be disappointed.

I agree. My brother has been hosting a student from Germany for the past year. He said some of the host parents are super strict and have very unrealistic expectations.
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Honestly, I think it's a good thing. Five hours of actual sunlight will do wonders for overcoming the jet lag and resetting the body clock.

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Honestly, I think it's a good thing. Five hours of actual sunlight will do wonders for overcoming the jet lag and resetting the body clock.

I agree, a nice long sleep followed by sunshine and exercise at the time when they are used to falling asleep is the cure for jetlag.

 

I also think that expecting them to do orientation with exhausted kids on the bus is unrealistic.

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I agree. My brother has been hosting a student from Germany for the past year. He said some of the host parents are super strict and have very unrealistic expectations.

 

I kinda wondered about that. There was an odd exchange at the meeting for the host families. I wrote it all out, but then felt gossipy about it, so I'll just give highlights: bascially, one of the families is apparently very anti-screen and they sounded ready to do battle with any student who came into their house hoping to use their computer. I got the impression that family was super strict. I worried a little for their student.

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In my experience, they will want the student to sleep while traveling and go to bed as close to the local bedtime as they can. While that first day will be an awful blur, if he can stay up (NOT have a morning nap) he will adjust to the local time much quicker. If he goes to bed at say 7 pm your time, then he will sleep like a rock and you can repeat your orientation the next morning. A 2 pm picnic should be fine.

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As crazy as this schedule sounds to you, remember that these exchanges are being organized for years and the leaders do have some experience with this. Getting up and doing things, even when tired, is perfectly acceptable for travelers - especially young ones.  Relax and enjoy the experience. 

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Actually, this may be a good way to get the teen adjust to the time change.

Traveling from Europe, they will be awake very early in the morning and feel sleepy after lunch.

Time outside has been proven to be the best help for overcoming jetlag,

And an organized event prevents them from succumbing to the temptation of an extended

Afternoon nap.

We travel overseas often, and a busy first day with lots of outside time makes for the fastest adjustment.

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Actually, this may be a good way to get the teen adjust to the time change.

Traveling from Europe, they will be awake very early in the morning and feel sleepy after lunch.

Time outside has been proven to be the best help for overcoming jetlag,

And an organized event prevents them from succumbing to the temptation of an extended

Afternoon nap.

We travel overseas often, and a busy first day with lots of outside time makes for the fastest adjustment.

 

:iagree:   When I lived in Norway, I'd come home for Christmas, jump right into activities in my home time zone, then fly back to Norway and start work the next day. It's always worked better for me to simply get right into the new time zone as quickly as possible. 

 

Taking a long day-time nap in the new time-zone usually results in being up most of the night and not getting a full-night's sleep. 

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Thanks everyone. It seemed crazy to me and I was picturing 20 kids dragging around the park and yawining and feeling miserable and wishing they could go sit down somewhere and rest. But it's likely it won't be like that.

 

Due to the other thread about Lyme (and we are in a high tick/Lyme area), I have ordered permethrin to spray on our clothes. I'll be getting some 40% or higher DEET. And my essential oils friend is going to give me some anti-tick oil spray. I don't want to be worrying about ticks. And I have a little device that's designed to remove ticks, just in case.

 

I'm going to pack some freezie pops in the cooler and hope they stay cold and we can eat a couple of those if we get too hot.

 

And thinking about it, this will stagger the student getting to know the four of us. My oldest son and dh can't go to the picnic because of work, so the student can get to know half of us on Thursday and the other half on Friday.

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We've had a bunch of ticks this year (I pulled two off of kid number four in one day), all in May. Not a single one since then, and I haven't used a tick repellant. Tell him you will need to check his hair, and remind him to check under his underwear. We have had good success with the little orange tick scoop that is made for cats, but it's worked great for humans too. But if you spray, you likely won't have any. (I'm just paranoid about chemicals and little kids, not so much about teens.)

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Rach, on 26 Jun 2017 - 08:00 AM, said:

I agree. My brother has been hosting a student from Germany for the past year. He said some of the host parents are super strict and have very unrealistic expectations.

 

I kinda wondered about that. There was an odd exchange at the meeting for the host families. I wrote it all out, but then felt gossipy about it, so I'll just give highlights: bascially, one of the families is apparently very anti-screen and they sounded ready to do battle with any student who came into their house hoping to use their computer. I got the impression that family was super strict. I worried a little for their student.

I totally get the "my house, my rules" thing, but I could not imagine being that strict with an exchange student. I mean, they're sort of a guest, and sort of family. I'd hope they learn as much from the exchange student (lighten up, relax, doing things differently isn't inherently immoral) and the student from them (don't be glued to a screen 24/7, cooperative board games with all-ages can be a fun way to pass the time). But if the student comes with their own phone and laptop, are they going to confiscate it and monitor that it's only used for educational purposes that can't be achieved elsewhere, such as with a typewriter and the encyclopedias at the library? ;)

 

Trying to make you laugh, OP! Humor will get you through all of this. :D I am not even a tiny bit outdoorsy and a five hour picnic with strangers would have me needing to binge watch some comedy shows or something.

 

ENJOY, and keep us posted on how this adventure is going! Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for all involved.

Edited by Rebel Yell
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Actually, this may be a good way to get the teen adjust to the time change.

Traveling from Europe, they will be awake very early in the morning and feel sleepy after lunch.

Time outside has been proven to be the best help for overcoming jetlag,

And an organized event prevents them from succumbing to the temptation of an extended

Afternoon nap.

We travel overseas often, and a busy first day with lots of outside time makes for the fastest adjustment.

Yeah. I think that those who have done more overseas travel will see this as being more normal.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I think it sounds fine, though I personally would find it exhausting now. I think it's about right for teens.

 

My FOO hosted French exchange students every summer. The kids would arrive, and the following day there would be a huge picnic at a park. Many of the kids had bonded on the flight over, or on the rides from the airport, and they viewed those other exchange students as new BFFs, or at least a lifeline to their own culture. They needed some contact with each other interspersed throughout the trip. Our picnics were full of games and bonding activities, and it was a great way for the kids of host families to bond with the exchange students, too. In fact, I would encourage the entire host family to attend, if possible.

 

Fair warning: we also had a picnic the last day of the exchange period. This was often hosted at my FOO'S property, with about 200 attending. That was the size of our basic group. :) Then the kids would fly out the next day. So it might have just been our exchange group's culture to do these big activities. Maybe some groups are different.

 

At the time, I didn't think about jet lag, but having traveled more now, I think it probably helped with the adjustment.

 

Hopefully the picnic will be fun for all of you!

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I kinda wondered about that. There was an odd exchange at the meeting for the host families. I wrote it all out, but then felt gossipy about it, so I'll just give highlights: bascially, one of the families is apparently very anti-screen and they sounded ready to do battle with any student who came into their house hoping to use their computer. I got the impression that family was super strict. I worried a little for their student.

 

IMO, being an exchange student is about experiencing a different culture... so unless the student comes from a family that's super strict like that, well, that's experiencing a different culture. Though I do realize some teens think being exchange student is a great opportunity to party (and I know at least one who got himself sent home early for that). And one of the worst things you can do (without breaking any rules/laws or doing anything dangerous) is spending your year playing video games because of homesickness or whatever reason really (maybe the student's biofamily is really strict and this is their first opportunity to waste their time away on electronics), so if I were to ever agree to host a kid, I'd be inclined to make sure to really limit all those things (not ban them though). You know, go out and experience America - go hang out with kids you met at school, or explore town, or anything, really.

 

It's really not that big a deal to not have a computer to use. My Thai host family did not have a computer, and we only occasionally watched karaoke videos on their TV, and that was it for screens. I occasionally could email my parents from school, but their internet connection absolutely sucked, so that rarely happened as well. I called them once a month or so. I just don't think screens or not is a big deal when the goal is to experience your host country, and if I were to ever send my own kids abroad, I'd be livid if they spent a lot of time on screens - I'm not paying for that (I'd be okay with a moderate amount, but if given the choice, I'd rather send them to a family who bans them altogether than to a family who lets kids spend 8 hours a day on the computer/TV). 

 

In my experience, they will want the student to sleep while traveling

 

 

LOL. I barely slept the night before getting on a plane to Thailand (because nerves), and then I didn't sleep on the plane at all - I don't think it's realistic to expect teens embarking on a huge adventure like this to just sleep while traveling. I didn't sleep all that great the first night in Thailand either (time change, excitement, etc). 

 

AFS put us all in a hotel (the students from different countries arrived over about a 24 hour period or so), and then we had orientation at the hotel for a day or so after everyone was there, and then we were picked up by our host families on the day after that. 

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Just one potentially positive thing - it might help them get over their jet lag quicker. If you can get yourself into the routine of the place you are visiting you will get your body clock in tune more quickly. When you come from Europe you wake up really early and therefore want to go to bed really early. If you can get out and about and be active it can sometimes help the adjustment more than resting.

I was thinking it would help with jet lag as well.

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We hosted someone for a summer a couple years ago.  Events at the beginning were deliberately planned to help students get over jet lag as quickly as possible. It seemed a little bit boot camp-ish to have to get our guy up at 6:00 a.m. after a 24 hour trip where he got in pretty late, and then have him hike all over campus, and THEN have a party/barbecue in the afternoon,  but it got him sleeping on the right schedule and into a routine very quickly. Plus, he was 18 years old, so he recovered much more quickly than I would have.

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