Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Exchange student visit

It's not going too well. Our exchange student thinks we are weird. My teen saw on an entry on her Facebook that she wondered why there were so many tables and chairs in the living room. (Because I have a restaurant in my house!)

The girl doesn't say anything, skulks in her bedroom. I have to force her out. We must speak English to her. But it's hard to estimate how much she understands. Because she won't ask.

My teen took her shopping to Topshop on Saturday. She sat looking miserable.
"It's too expensive", exchange student eventually pouted.
"So let's go to Primark", says my teen helpfully. But she didn't want to go.
There was a party in Harlesden Saturday night. I was worried. Harlesden is murder mile. Another mum dropped them off and picked them up. I was doing the Underground Restaurant so this was really helpful. Although my teen was annoyed that they were picked up at a quarter to midnight.
"The party went on till two am", she complained, "only losers leave before midnight".
Personally I think that midnight is fine for just 15. At the party the French exchange student sat in a corner the whole time. 
My friend 'Kurt Cubain' came over Sunday. Blonde, dreadlocked, he's just back from six months in India. He was lighting up joints and strumming the guitar. God knows what the French exchange student thought. When he left I tried to bring her out of herself.
"He's just back from India!", I announced cheerily.
She nods.
"Would you like to travel?"
More nodding.
"Are you going to stay in Epinal?"
She shakes her head vigorously. A bit of animation there.
"Where would you like to go? "
A word, muffled "London?"
"Would you like to go to India?"
Enthusiastic nodding. That's the longest conversation I have managed with her.
(I think her mind is a little blown by us, London, the UK. It has been awkward. But possibly she'll go home with her horizons broadened. This is real education, which is not always comfortable.)
Our lot are exchanging with the year above from Epinal. Have to. The Epinal kids are so unsophisticated.

The school seem to have a policy of mismatching the kids. Therefore the 'year slut' from the French school was paired with the 'year geek' from the Lycée. This was such a disaster in France that the 'year slut' refused to stay with him on the London leg, and went to stay with our 'year slut'.
The French 'year slut' brought over £350 and spent every penny. At least she has a lust for life.
I guess my teen is the year outcast and they've matched her with the French year 'straight'. 


  1. Hahahaha! Brilliant! I love the way you write - this made me laugh!

    I did an exchange with a French student when I was about 13. It was such hard work. She didn't speak either and when I got to her place in France she ignored me for the week!

  2. Surley teenagers are one thing, surley FRENCH teenagers are a whole other kettle du poisson!

  3. My middle son had a Spanish exchange sudent over this last week. All my children live with their Mum so I only had a days experience of exchange students. I experienced a lot of nodding, I do anyway, as being Welsh I tend to speak very fast with a peculiar accent so Adz and Edgar were parleying en Espanol. My French is tolerably poor but my Spanish beyond "Hola!" and ordering multiple tequila's is non-existent so the entire experience was trilingual at best (I consider Wenglish to be another lanuage as do my children). I am not sure its a nationality issue though; just a generational one. It is impossible to understand or reason with teenagers I just think the language angle is a small (not even integer) additional dimension. It is indeed a fractal :) All my sons go to a Foundation Boys Grammar school so, whilst not fee paying, is massivley selective. We still have the 11+, or Kent Test as it is called here now, which selects on smartness (I deliberaely avoid the word intelligence) and won't go into the debate of age-dependent streaming. On the 'slut v straight' debate Adz and Edgar were clearly matched on their outstanding geekiness, both fantastic physicists in the making, which is great as the abstract language of science transcends traditional language barriers but excludes even more people from the conversation. Nah, definitely an age not nationality thing... and cooking is merely macrochemistry in action ...IMHO

  4. I'm never going to do the exchange thing - nightmare. Never never.

  5. She's going home tomorrow. Phew.
    I spoke to another mum today who agreed with me that it was all a bit awkward and that the kids were mismatched.
    Took her for sushi tonight. She told me she liked it, that her tiny town had a sushi bar.
    Got there. She ate one plate. She'd only had it once before. I don't think she liked it.
    My teen was vile as usual.
    So we had a row. In front of the exchange student. Great.

  6. Well - at least she was seeing 'real family life' in action in UK.

  7. my parents never let me have an exchange student: "No dear, I want to be able to walk around in my pants and shout at you without feeling awkward."

    I sulked at the time, now I am glad.


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)