Rotary Youth Exchange

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by cslewis, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. cslewis macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #1
    Hi, everyone,

    I'm really interested in participating in an exchange student program before I get out of high school. I know they're awfully expensive, and with a lower-middle to middle-middle class standard of living, they can be well nigh impossible to afford.

    However, through poring through google and talking to my guidance counselor, I've learned about the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Essentially, it's a year-long (or short-term) exchange program for students aged 15-19. Unlike most prgrams out there, Rotary doesn't charge a 'middleman' fee, year-long students are eligible for a modest monthly allowance, and while in their host country, their host family of Rotarians will handle room and board.

    Not to say that it's inexpensive: the program entails the student to defray the cost of

    -Round-trip airfare to their host country
    -Health and accident insurance
    -All travel documents, such as passports and visas
    -Clothing and spending money
    -An emergency fund for the student's use during the year

    There are three ways that I plan on paying for my trip. The first, and most obvious, is to obtain some modest summer employment. The only problem with that is that I live in charming Nowhere, PA, and jobs are difficult to come by. Any suggestions that I might have overlooked for employment in a rural college town are greatly appreciated. I hope to make $1000 over the summer, maybe a little bit more, which should easily cover the cost of my airfare and travel documents.

    Second, I have grandparents that any teenager would love. They're kind, compassionate, but don't fit the mold of traditional grandparents. They're both still working, both very active, and both tend to spoil me a little bit (ice cream, trips to the city, and fun activites). I've mentioned it to my grandmother, and even though she's worried about the prospect of me being overseas for a year, she seems as though she could contribute.

    Third, my parents aren't real gift-givers. Fortunately for me, they give money. They spend about $100 each for Christmas and my birthday, which is $200 that I don't have to pull out of nowhere. I have $150 in my savings right now, so i'm planning on having $1350 saved for the trip, plus whatever my grandparents are willing to add. I don't think my financial problems are problems.

    --------------------------
    Even though I've been scheming about how to PAY for the trip, I haven't decided where I want to go. I want to leave North America, of course, but beyond that I'm open to anything. I've been thinking, though, and countries that come up over and over again include

    The UK

    Home to the rolling hills of Wales, the financial and cultural hub of London, and Jaffa Cakes, the UK is the birthplace of American culture, the English Language, and nutmegy Yorkshire Pudding. Shakespeare wrote of its beautiful and unspoiled countryside, and I'm fascinated by its architecture and history. I've also met many English people in my time, and found them to have a hilarious sense of humor, a kind and generous personality, and excellent teeth. :D

    Germany

    I've been studying the German language for two and a half years, and feel like a tiny David trying to trounce that ugly and unruly Goliath known as German grammar. Even if my German language skills leave a healthy amount to be desired, I've found their culture and history to be fascinating. And although I'm still a poor German speaker, the language has a certain beauty all its own. I want to visit Germany because of the influence of German culture on my area of Pennsylvania, the beauty of its towns, cities, and countrysides, and because my heritage (like about 99.9% of my classmates) is German.

    The Czech Republic

    A delightful little country, I had the opportunity to visit Prague and most of Bohemia with well-heeled Czech relatives in the summer of 2000. I said that my ancestry was German, but I may have been misleading. My father is about 7/8 Czech and 1/8 German, while my mom is a hopeless cultural mutt. However, she does have good-sized chunk of Czech in her family tree. I fell in love with the hundreds castles that we saw in our 3 weeks in the Czech Republic, and loved the attitude of its people.
    --------------------------

    I admit this entry has gotten really long, but I'm really excited about the possibility of spending an academic year with multiple host families in whatever country I choose. If any MacRumors members have been or will be going on an exchange program, I'd love to hear your experiences or aspirations. To the residents of Europe, Asia, and Australia, where do you think would be ideal place for me to spend a year? To pessimists, what crucial details am I missing?

    I thank everyone for their time, and hope to hear from you guys soon. Again, any and all stories, recommendations, and tidbits of advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #2
    Firstly, I don't know how old you are, but you sound quite bright. I just had an encounter with people your age who couldn't stop calling each other "brah" because they had just watched "2 Fast, 2 Furious."

    Anyway, I think Germany would be a great place to go. That'd be my choice. I have lived in Engerrland for a year before, and it's a very cool place to go (most of my music just so happens to be from British bands, and I generally think the place is pretty cool), but that doesn't mean you'll get the most out of England. I say go to Germany because it sounds like you want to go there the most, and I think it's also very beautiful. You can also go to the Czech Republic very easily from Germany.

    QUESTION: Who's paying for your food? You didn't mention it. Does the host Rotarian family let you eat with them for free as well?


    JUST TO ADD: I'm getting a scholarship from Rotary Club right now for research I'm doing. It's a good scholarship, too. I never even heard of them until I got my scholarship, and they seem like a great organization. :)
     
  3. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #3
    I turned 15 three weeks ago.

    I'm not certain who's going to be paying for my food. I'll probably be eating out and purchasing foodstuffs, which I'll assume responsibility for, but I'm hoping that 'room and board' will include at least some of my daily meals.

    It's great to hear about your scholarship. The Rotary Club seems to be a well-kept secret (at least amongst Americans). They're not as big as the Optimists, Lyons, JayCees, etc. I know they existed, but I never imagined the depth or breadth of their charity.
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #4
    Thing is, I doubt your host family is going to make you "eat out" and would insist that you eat a homecooked meal with them. It's just the way these things work.

    And find out about the food situation. It makes a huge financial difference where you eat. Food isn't cheap in the UK, and it's only a bit cheaper in Germany. Not sure about the CR.

    Rotary is an American organization. Its strange how we know these "clubs" existed, and yet we don't know what they do and why they even get together.



    Stonecutters 4 life!

    ;)
     
  5. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #5
    Wow, I never thought of that. Thanks. :)
     
  6. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #6
    I did a five week exchange to Germany when I was 15 and I absolutely loved it. I too had been studying german for about 2 years, so my knowledge and skills of the language were pretty limited. It didn't matter though, because just about everybody spoke decent english.

    Germany had so many amazing things to see - particularly the castles and churches. They're everywhere, and each has it's own fascinating history and stories.

    When staying with a host family, the idea is you become a member of the family, so the food thing is generally not an issue. You just eat with the rest of the family. I found it was a nice gesture to cook dinner for the family a few times throughout my stay and also to help out with a bit of the cleaning around the house.

    As for your other options, the UK would be cool, but essentially their culture is pretty similar to yours. The CR on the other hand would be a complete culture shock, particularly if you aren't that familiar with the language. Germany is a good compromise between the two in my opinion. It's a different culture but essentially more westernised and you'd probably feel more comfortable there. On the other hand I think it would be awesome to live in eastern Europe (I want to live in Ukraine for a while in the next couple of years) and experience the completely different way of life.

    Whatever you decide, just be open to new experiences and I'm sure you'lll have an awesome time. ;)
     
  7. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #7
    I'd go to Germany too; living out there for a year will really improve your language and being bilingual is a great thing. It'll be tougher to start with but you'd probably get a lot out of it. The only bad thing might be how not knowing the language well might affect your grades in other subjects - you don't want to go backwards in other places. Your grandparents might be particularly pleased to see your taking an interest in your heritage.

    Incidentally, to me 'room & board' would suggest food was covered by the host family but you'd probably be expected to help with household chores.
     
  8. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

    Joined:
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    #8
    Thanks everyone! I'd like to go to Germany, but at the same time I think my family would be rooting for the CR.

    I'm one of those first generation Americans. My dad's family, living in Prague under the communists, 'went on vacation'... a vacation, incedentally, that lasted 26 years. They might want me to learn some of the language (Dad's a fluent speaker who never taught us) and experience the culture.
    I guess if I went to Germany it's only a short drive over the border.

    As for the chores, I think I'll do fine. I already do a lot of the cooking, babysitting, lawn maintenance, snow shoveling, gardening, etc. in my household.
     
  9. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    #9
    Maybe you could arrange 6 months in each country - best of both worlds. :)
     
  10. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #10
    That'd be great, but from what I can tell you have to decide 'which country you want to visit'. Hopefully we'll visit Prague... I can still remember which metro station to get off at and which roads to take to get to my uncle's apartment. :p
     
  11. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
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    #11
    No, it is not! Rotary was founded in Chicago 101 years ago, but it has been an international organization for most of its history -- in fact it's in the name: Rotary International. Rotary is in more countries than the United Nations! You can easily look into what Rotary does by checking out their web site. These youth exchange programs are only one of the many projects run by RI to promote international peace and understanding. The fact that more people don't know about the important work of RI is a shame, but the organization never has been one to toot its own horn.

    Yes, I'm a Rotarian (and president elect for my club for the 2007-08 year). Our club has hosted youth exchange students from all over the world. I wish I'd known about this program when I was in school -- I'm sure it would have been a positive, a life-altering experience. So by all means, go for it if you are able. Then when you get a bit further on in your life, remember Rotary. Join, and make those life-altering experiences available to others like yourself. That's what Rotary is all about.
     
  12. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #12
    Aha! Since you are a Rotarian, what does 'room and board' include? Are there any horror stories I should know about? What should I know/have before applying?
     
  13. prostuff1 macrumors 65816

    prostuff1

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    #13
    Exchange programs are GREAT!! I was on a month trip to Japan this summer and i thoroughly enjoyed every min. i spent there.

    Another good place to look for exchange opportunities is the Local 4-H branch. That is were i got my information and set it up. My trip was about 3500. Which included round trip filght, room and board in the hotels we stay in for a short period of time (kinda a transition stage until we got to our host families), and food and stuff we needed while in the hotels.

    Oh and you dont not have to be a 4-H member to go on the trip.

    A good way to make money for the trip is to go around to local 4-H clubs, rotary clubs, VFW's, nursing homes, and places like that to see if they would sponser your trip in return for a presentation when you return. I did this and was sponsered about 500 from local places in exchange for presentations when i got back. Also, if you are part of a church see if they will put in some money. I wish i would have thought of the church idea before i went on mine cause my church probably would have given me some money.

    Of the places you picked out i would say germany...but Japan is really nice (but i am kinda partial). Just go or call the local 4-H extension office and they can tell you all you need to know. And if i remember correctly 4-H also offers trips to other places. It is very well setup and managed.

    If/when you do go make sure to take pictures of EVERYTHING and keep a journal. I did and now that i am back i plan on making a website for family and friends to visit and see what i did while i was there (i actually have the site done just dont have the money to upload it to .mac like i want to).

    My other suggestion is to be a host for teens coming over from other countries (if you have the space). My family has, so far, hosted 4 youth from Japan (2 boys and 2 girls) and i know we are going to host again this coming summer...we mihgt even be getting a year long exchange student.
     
  14. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #14
    I realize that it's international, but it's still Chicago based first. Even the important and semi-important people from Rotary fly to Chicago to visit, and this includes the ex-president of the health research for the entire country (not in the US, mind).

    Yeah, I've considered it.
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    I'm not entirely certain about the details, but as a rule "room and board" is a place to sleep and at least two meals a day. When you go to live abroad, by definition your living conditions will be different than what you are exposed to at home -- but that's one of the reasons to do it.

    I'm not an expert on Rotary Youth Exchange, but here's a good place to start looking for answers:

    http://www.rotary.org/programs/youth_ex/students/about.html
     
  16. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #16
    Not really. The RI main offices are in Chicago, but only that. The annual conferences are held around the world. Last year's conference was in Chicago, but that was marking Rotary's centennial. The year before that it was in Japan, before that in Australia, and next year it will be in Copenhagen. The RI president this year is Swedish. Rotary has over a million members in over 160 countries.
     
  17. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #17
    Do USA residents need a visa or passport to go into the EU? Or is it a Canada-like situation?

    Also, is anti-Americanism a problem in europe?
     
  18. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #18
    Yes, you'll need a passport, but for most countries, no visa if you're staying six months or less. In a short while, you'll need a passport for traveling to Canada and Mexico, too.
     
  19. matt459 macrumors member

    #19

    Mac head, I thought I'd try to answer some of your questions, seeing that I'm in Germany right now. I've been an exchange student here since September, and I'm comming back to the states pretty soon. My home town is Bethlehem, so you probably know about it.

    As for a passport, we (all the exchange students) needed them in the airport a number of times, but that was really the only time I needed it. And yes, you "need" it. From what I've heard, it's wise to have your passport along with you at all times, in case you're asked by the police to present it, etc. I didn't do that, mostly because I was afraid of losing it (I hear a copy usually works alright). The one time I was asked to show it, was at the entrance of a bar. I just told him my age, and that I'd forgotten my Ausweis. I just needed to be out by 12.

    As for anti-Americanism, in my experience, I experienced literally none. Most of the time, you'll meet at least a few Germans who hate Bush (but we get that in America too, so I don't see the problem), and even more often, you'll meet other teens that want to talk about politics. At least a little bit. Did I ever feel uncomfortable in a situation? I can't say that I was ever pressured enough to feel that way just because I'm American. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me. Good luck, and pick Germany! :p

    ~Matt
     
  20. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #20
    That's great! I'm pretty envious of you. I'm not sure that my mother is supportive of the idea...

    And do you mean Bethlehem, PA? That would be cool. :p
     
  21. matt459 macrumors member

    #21
    The one and only. ;)
     
  22. cslewis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cslewis

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    #22
    All right,

    My grandparents have solidified their contribution. I can count on them...

    I'm still up in the air about where I want to go. Do you guys really think Germany would be the best idea? What's life like there, and in other places in Europe?
     

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