While you live the typical daily life of an-
other culture, you are learning every minute
of every day. You might live in a French city
meant for walking, with cobblestone streets
so narrow you can touch the walls of build-
ings with outstretched arms on both sides.
Or you may live in a Spanish village where
the remains of an entire castle lie. Perhaps
you’ll find yourself in Sweden living in a
walled city dating back to medieval days,
or that your homestay town in Germany
includes a “living castle,” an actual private
residence still being used today. These are
the sorts of discoveries you will make as you
learn firsthand about what you have only
studied in the classroom until now.
You’ll also find that the school systems are
among the best in the world, and that the
teenagers are much the same as they are at
home. They work hard at their studies, play
sports, love parties and cinema, and pursue
hobbies just like you. A few will become
your friends for life.
The best way to truly become involved
in the culture of a foreign country is to
live among its people as a member of
a family. Every ASSE exchange student
does just that. Host families are care-
fully screened by ASSE and consider it a
privilege to welcome students like you
into their home. Host families feel they
benefit from the experience as much
as you do! They want to learn about
your culture and introduce you to theirs.
Many families have children your age,
and you may find that a family member
speaks English, even if it’s only a little.
And every ASSE exchange student
has a local ASSE representative who
is conversant in English and who will
plan some social activities and be
available to help you during your stay.
not just part of a program,
you’re part of a
While someone in your host family
may speak some English (except in the
European Summer Language programs),
you’ll quickly realize that it’s not of much
concern. In fact, you’ll probably find that
after a few weeks you’ll be asking them
to speak in their native tongue.
This may be hard for you to believe. You
might be wondering how you’ll express
yourself; how you’ll communi-
cate with store clerks, teach-
ers, classmates and your host
family. Even if you’ve studied a
foreign language in school, you
won’t feel ready to live in that
language. But when you’re surrounded
by that language from morning till night,
you learn the fastest way possible. It’s
like a month of classes in a single day!
And in non–English speaking countries,
you’ll either spend 6 to 14 days receiv-
ing instruction within your host country
at an ASSE Language and Cultural En-
richment Program or be provided with
remedial language instruction / training
(included in the program fee), during
your initial few weeks.
With that initial preparation, plus the
constant exposure you’ll have to the
language, you’ll be talking comfortably
with your host family in just a few weeks.
Within four months, exchange students
should speak the host country language
fluently. You’ll tell jokes and gossip with
friends, even dream and speak to pets
in the foreign language. And the fluency
you develop will give you a great advan-
tage in your future schooling and career.