WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WES ACADEMIC EXCHANGE STUDENT? Being a WES academic exchange student means you have been selected by your Local Representative as well as by WES and your host family to become a cultural ambassador of your country. This program is reasonably priced because the High School as well as participating host families do not receive compensation. For these reasons, it is a privilege granted only to qualified students, to be selected as a participant in the WES Academic Exchange Program.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE MY PARENTS PAYING FOR? Your parents pay for the following program expenses when you participate in the WES Academic Exchange Program:
Host Family Recruitment and Selection
Local Coordinator Services
Student Application Screening and Processing
WES Administrative Costs
- WES Program Costs including:
- Student Medical Insurance
- Preparation of Documents to obtain Visitor Exchange J-1 Visa
WHAT IS A TYPICAL AMERICAN HOST FAMILY? There is not a "typical" North American host family. North American families come in a variety of colors and sizes. Although it is possible to be placed in a traditional family with two parents and children, it is also likely that you could be placed with a family in which there is only one parent, or two parents but no children. You may have a host brother or sister close to your age, but you may also be the "only child". Making friends in your school and neighborhood is important in all of these situations. In many families, both of the parents hold fulltime jobs and, in some cases, older children work a few hours per week.
Many people from all parts of the world have settled in the United States to create a diverse ethnic population. Although WES believes it is important that a host family speak only English in the home, we welcome families from all different ethnic backgrounds to host our foreign students. WES does not discriminate on the basis of color, religion, ethnicity or gender.
What IS typical of WES host families is their desire to host a foreign exchange student and to provide the student and themselves with the privilege and the opportunity to share a cultural and academic experience.
WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN AMERICA? You can expect to find many cultural differences between your country and the United States. The most important thing you can do to prepare for your experience as an exchange student is to think about it.
FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTATION. If you are ready to experience a family, a home, a school, and new friends who may be completely different from those in your home country, you are ready to participate in the WES Academic Exchange Program!
WHAT TYPE OF HOMES DO NORTH AMERICANS HAVE? Homes in the United States vary as to size and style, but most are "modest". It is common for exchange students to share a room with a child of the same sex.
WHAT WILL MY HOST FAMILY EXPECT OF ME? As a foreign exchange student, you hold a special role in the family. You are not a guest or a visitor but a new member of the family. Therefore, your host parents will expect from you the same things as they expect from their own children. Although there is variation from one family to another, the following are examples of some typical expectations host parents may have of their host children.
Household Chores: Since many families in the U.S. do not have servants or hired help, all family members are expected to participate in family chores. It is important that you offer to help with the household responsibilities even if you are not asked.
Curfew: Curfews are the time by which you must be home at night. For students from some countries, curfews in the U.S. are later than those they are used to while for others the same curfews are much earlier than those they are used to. It is very important to obey the rule your host family sets on curfews.
High School: Your host family will expect that you attend all of your classes, complete your homework assignments, join in extracurricular activities and, in general, act responsibly with regard to your high school assignments.
English: You will be expected to speak English as much as possible to better prepare you for your goals of academic and cultural exchange.
WHAT IF I DO NOT LIKE MY FAMILY? Many exchange students like their host families from the moment they meet them. However, due to cultural differences or other factors, a few students may not immediately like their host families. If this happens, you must talk about your feelings with your Local Coordinator. Your Local Coordinator will advise you on how to proceed and will help you determine if your "dislike" is the result of cultural differences or of other factors. You will NOT automatically be transferred to another family. You may, however, be transferred to another family if your Local Coordinator and WES staff agree that a transfer is appropriate.
WHAT ARE MEALS LIKE IN THE UNITED STATES? Families in the U.S. do not always share meals together. Family members are often busy with individual activities, which makes it difficult to coordinate one meal time when all family members can attend every day. Expect that the food will be different than the kinds of foods you are used to eating. Even the way food is eaten may be different in the U.S. from that in your country.
DO I HAVE TO GO TO A CHURCH OF A DIFFERENT RELIGION? Many religions co-exist in the U.S. These religious differences contribute to making North American culture diverse. WES encourages you to explore these differences and enrich your cultural exchange experience. Although WES policy is that you do not have to go to a church of a different religion or in any way participate in different religious practices, we encourage you to go to church at least three times before making your decision.
Click on Application if you are interested in becoming a WES Exchange Student.