Things to Read: Learn More About Exchange As Your Exchange Experience Begins 

 August 20, 2019

By  Laura Kosloff

Students will be arriving soon for their exchange year around the world. Many have already arrived and in some places, they have started their school year. Perhaps you as a host family are taking a vacation before your student arrives and need something to read on the road. Perhaps your student has arrived and you are wondering whether you are prepared. Perhaps you are wondering (either as a host family, a student, or a parent of a student) “do I have everything I need to know?”

Students and host families have a local coordinator for specific questions; use him or her as much as you need. Parents back home have their in-country organization office. You — whether you are a student, a host parent, or family back home — certainly have additional ways to get information. How about learning a little bit about your student’s country, or just learn more about international exchange in general? How about reading about typical student experiences so you can think about how you as a student or host family will deal with similar situations? If you’re a host family, how about learning the basics of your student’s language, just for fun?

Here are some books you might find interesting and useful. For some thoughts on language learning, take a look at our recent blog post on that subject. Consider this your start to your new experience!

Our Book

Of course, we would love it if you start with our own book, “We’d Love To Host an Exchange Student, But …” Our book is your “go to” guide for high school exchange. Thousands of teenagers from other countries spend one or more years studying in the U.S. They come from countries all over the world, entering the U.S. through different educational programs and visas. In our book, you will learn how to solve problems when issues do arise. There can never be too much communication when it comes to teenagers and adults...not to mentioned inter-cultural expectations and misunderstandings! As a colleague who also works in international cultural exchange and travel said:

This book is a practical guide for anyone interested in high school exchanges in the US: host families as well as international students and their families ... A great resource for anyone interested in international youth exchanges in the USA.”

Host Family Point of View

Your reading list can continue! Other suggestions include books from a host family point of view. Although published some time ago, the issues that arise remain the same.

Student Point of View

Books with more of a student point of view include the following. Even if “student-centered,” these books are good resources for host parents, too.

Parent Point of View

For the parent point of view, we recommend A Parent Guide to Study Abroad by Stacie Berdan, Allan Goodman, and William Gertz. (You can read our review of this book here.)

Culture Shock

All kinds of challenges arise when students face a new country and a new culture — indeed, when any of us are in that situation. The challenges of living in a foreign country and of returning home months or years later are often referred to as “culture shock” and “reverse culture shock.” We recommend taking a look at H.E. Rybol’s two books on these topics, Culture Shock: A Practical Guide and Reverse Culture Shock. (You can read our reviews of Rybol’s books here and here.

Get Started!

We know there are many more books out there on international travel and cultural exchange. Get started with these, and continue from there … you’ll have fun as you learn about other cultures, and students and host families will hopefully learn things to help make the exchange experience a success.


Do you have more suggestions for our readers? Post your recommendations in the comments!

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The Pros and Cons of Taking a Gap Year
Adjusting to Life in a New Country: A Guide for International Students
Direct Placements: Why Do I Need to Go Through an Exchange Program?

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