What support structure is in place for me on exchange?
High School Exchange Support Structure
Life on a high school exchange will be challenging. You will set up a new life overseas where you will be away from your natural support network, and you will be expected to throw yourself into new opportunities and experiences. In order to help you to succeed on exchange, we provide you with a support structure in your new community.
Your support structure looks like this:
We hope and expect that you will turn to your host family for almost all of your support during the exchange program. Most concerns and issues should be discussed directly with them. They will care for you and make sure that you are happy and have access to the experiences you want. Just spending time with them to keep you busy when you feel homesick, or for a hug when you have had a tough day, are some of the indirect ways they can support you.
An Area Representative is usually a volunteer with the host organisation. They are adults who enjoy working with young people and understand the value of the high school exchange program. They are there to support you and your host family throughout the exchange experience. Your Area Representative will meet you soon after arrival on exchange. They will get to know you and will be in contact at regular intervals to monitor your progress. In between these meetings or calls it is vital that you contact them if you need their guidance and assistance. You do not need to wait for them to call you. If you have an issue it is best to talk about it early on, when it is more simple to resolve. The earlier you seek support, the happier and easier your experience will be. The Area Representative is there to make sure you have someone to talk to.
Please note that you cannot assume your Area Representative will speak fluent English. Students from across the world go on exchange and they are not provided with a Representative who speaks their native language. Although English is widely spoken, you will be expected to do your best to communicate in the local language.
Your host school will also want you to succeed on the program. You will have a form teacher or access to a support staff member who will be able to address any issues you are having. It is important that you speak with them to get help with concerns at school, for example, subject choices, accessing extra-curricular activities, or your experiences with your classmates.
Students are allowed to contact the host organisation’s main office directly, but it is always preferable that the local structure is used first to address a problem. Staff in the main office will all speak English and they might contact you directly if an issue has become significant and extra support is needed.
It will be instinctive for you to contact your parents when you have something that you need help with. However, this is not the best way to seek support while on a high school exchange. Your parents will not be familiar with your school, host family or local area so they may not be able to give you the best advice for your situation. Time differences and heightened emotions can also lead to misunderstandings and problems not being resolved effectively. When you have a problem we expect that you will use your local network first, and we also expect that your parents will encourage you to seek help from the local network as soon as they become aware that you have a difficulty.
MyEducation UK office
Students can also contact the MyEducation office with any concerns, but we prefer that you use your local support network first. We will happily pass information forward to the host organisation, but we will also insist that you speak with your host family or Area Representative as well.
During the exchange MyEducation office staff are there to speak with your parents and keep them up to date on your progress. Your parents are asked to contact MyEducation if they have a concern but not to contact your host family, Area Representative or host organisation directly. All parental concerns should be directed through MyEducation and we will get answers as quickly as we can.
All students and parents will be provided with the emergency numbers for MyEducation and the host organisation. This number should only be used in an emergency or if the safety and well being of the student is in question. Parents should contact MyEducation directly and students should contact the host organisation.