Welcome to Colorful Colorado!
Getting off the plane in a foreign country where you barely know the language is a scary experience, especially when you’re moving there for an entire school year.
But you didn’t land in a “foreign country.” You landed in Colorful Colorado with snow-capped mountains, 300 days of sunshine, and an amazing support network of District 5450 Rotarians who will help make your exchange as successful as you want it to be. But it is your exchange. The experience you have is largely up to you, so make the most of it.
Are you ready? Let’s get started by using the resources on this page.
Spending the year in Colorado? Consider these ideas and suggestions.
Recommendations for a Successful Exchange
- Learn ahead of time as much of the language of your host country as possible, and use the language regularly when abroad. Teachers, host parents, Rotary club members, and others you meet in the community will appreciate the effort. It will go a long way in your gaining acceptance in the community and with those who will become lifelong friends.
- You should communicate with your first host family before leaving your home country. The family’s information will be provided to you by your host club or district before your departure.
- Respect your host’s wishes. Become an integral part of the host family, assuming duties and responsibilities normal for a student of your age or for children in the family.
- Attend Rotary-sponsored events and host family events, and show an interest in these activities. Volunteer to be involved; do not wait to be asked. Lack of interest on your part is detrimental to your exchange and can have a negative impact on future exchanges.
- Get involved in your school and community activities. Plan your recreation and spare-time activities around your school and community friends. Don’t spend all your time with other exchange students. If there is a local Interact club, you are encouraged to join it.
- Choose friends in the community carefully. Ask for and heed the advice of host families, counselors, and school personnel in choosing friends.
- Do not borrow money. Pay any bills promptly. Ask permission to use the family phone or computer, keep track of all calls and time on the Internet, and reimburse your host family each month for the costs you incur.
- If you are offered an opportunity to go on a trip or attend an event, make sure you understand any costs you must pay and your responsibilities before you go.
Top 10 Tips on How to Be a Successful Exchange Student
- Do not ask to do things that you know you may not do. Accept the fact that rules exist and abide by them.
- Write thank-you notes and express appreciation often. Anytime someone entertains you or gives you something, write a thank-you.
- Get involved. Stay engaged. Share news from home with your host family. Be willing to try new things.
- When arriving at a new host family, immediately ask your host parents about the rules and responsibilities you have as a member of their family.
- Offer to cook a meal for your host family at least once.
- Learn to strike a happy balance between spending too much time alone in your room and spending too much time with your host family. Remember everybody needs some time to be alone; you do, and so do your host parents and brothers and sisters. But nobody likes an exchange student who spends much of the spare time alone. Be creative with your spare time.
- Always make sure your host family knows where you are. Be sure to inform them where you are going and when you will return. If you are late, your family will worry. Call them if you cannot return home by the expected time.
- If your host parents are doing a project around the house, offer to help. Always offer to help set the table or clean up after meals.
- Make your bed in the morning, and keep your room neat. Coordinate your laundry schedule with the rest of the family.
- Don’t spend too much discretionary time on the computer, browsing, Skyping, and such. Never text while at the dinner table. If being driven by an adult, do not talk on the cell phone or text during all or most of the trip. The driver is not a chauffeur.
Consider Host House Rules
Consider some of the following and see if they apply in your host family:
- If you opened it, close it.
- If you turned it on, turn it off.
- If you unlocked it, lock it.
- If you broke it, admit it.
- If you cannot fix it, call someone who can.
- If it has value for you, take care.
- If you borrowed it, give it back.
- If you dirtied it, clean it.
- If you removed it, get it back.
- If you don’t know how to use it, leave it alone.
- If it is not broken, don’t fix it.
Ask First Night Questions
Whether it’s the first night of your entire exchange or the first night in your last host family, always ask a list of “first night questions” so you can better understand your new family, their expectations, and how to best navigate your new living situations.
A list of suggested questions can be found in all languages here.
Other Students Will Follow You
While you are being hosted as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in a foreign country, please remember that you are an ambassador for your family, Rotary and for your home country. This comes with a lot of responsibility. Bear in mind that other students will follow in your footsteps, and how you conduct yourself will often determine whether your host family, host club, and even your host country decides to host another Rotary exchange student in the future.