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inmersion-linguistica
education, Family, History, Languages, Learn, School, Travel, Voyage, World,

How does an exchange influences your child?

Living abroad means leaving the comfort zone, at the begging it may sound scary and exciting at the same time. The important thing is to try it because it really worth it.

It´s important to keep in mind the changes that your child will live in this incredible experience. It is true that each student will enjoy a different experience depending on the age in which they travel, their character and how independent they are. However, everyone will definitely change.

First he/she is likely to feel vulnerable and afraid, but it is completely normal, as he/she is experiencing a familiar detachment. But as time goes by, he/she will develop and grow both personally and academically.
Some changes that you will notice when he/she return are:

  1. Personality: now he/she will be more open, strong and self-confident. The exchange will help him/her to define the personality and to develop skills
  2. Influence: the level of influence will reduce, this means that it will improve the decision-making, based on the personal benefit (what suits or benefits him/her)
  3. Maturity: obviously the maturity will be evident, living away from the family, helps the person to fend for himself (to be independent). Also to appreciate the family, the house, friends and even the material (everything around him , to the minimum aspect)
  4. Self-knowledge: being “alone”, he/she will go through a stage of personal knowledge, he/she will know how to identify his/her emotions and he/she will learn to control them. In the same way he/she will know his/her limits.

The panorama will be completely open, therefore you will have a child who already has a different language, mature, sociable and with decision-making power, as well as increasing professional value and it is possible that he/she acquired skills that he/she had not acquired in his/her native country.

Due to so many changes, it is likely that there are some frictions or discussions when you are all back together under the same roof, but don´t worry, it is part of the process and you will soon overcome it.

We recommend you to read our post in which we talk about the possible situations when your child returns and how to handle them.

Share with us your experience, what changes do your child had after the exchange?

As always I leave you a video which some students share their experience and talk about some benefits when doing a student exchange

Source: YouTube                                                                                                                                        Year of publication: 2014

solidarity+viafamilies
World,

International Human Solidarity Day

December 20th is the day that the General Assembly proclaimed as the International Human Solidarity Day which promotes to focus on eradicating poverty, maintaining the hope of a better world, enhancing the protection of the dignity of people, the defense of the environment and the planet.

Days like today we celebrate our diversity, we take awareness of the importance of solidarity, we encourage the debate to achieve common goals, as well as the eradication of poverty. In the same way, we promote 3 actions to improve human solidarity. The first is assistance, facilitate basic services to all people. The second action is the help of development, we lay the foundations for communities to work for their own development. The third is cooperation; this is not only to empower vulnerable communities, but to generate an ethical bond between donor communities and beneficiaries.

 

May all our actions be humanitarian, let’s take our arms to help!

The Charities Aid Foundation, made a study that evaluates the solidarity behaviour of 153 countries, it focuses on 3 main values: the financial donations, the time had spent as volunteer and the time spent helping other people. Spain is number 83 of 153.

The top 10 countries most solidarities are:

  1. United States
  2. Ireland
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Netherland
  7. Canada
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Thailand
  10. Laos

Now, we can also help as a personal label, some actions you can do are:

  1. Give your time (volunteer)
  2. Donate (specific objects, food, medicines, clothes)
  3. Make a financial donation.
  4. Organize a solidarity activity (non-profit fund raising, charity events)
  5. Solidarity education (teach to the kids the importance of being supportive through movies or stories)
  6. Fight for the human rights of all the people.

Remember that our mision in Via Families is to contribute in young education and their future to eradicate the poverty and inequality for a better world.

The following video will make us think about the daily actions in which we can collaborate.

Source of reference:

http://www.un.org/es/events/humansolidarityday/

https://www.campodecriptana.info/fechas-celebres/1555-20-de-diciembre-dia-internacional-de-la-solidaridad-humana  

http://www.worldvision.es/noticias-ayuda-humanitaria/los-10-paises-mas-solidarios-del-mundo?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImPqn36Su3wIVReh3Ch3JJwNAEAAYASAAEgJ6kvD_BwE

Getting organized
education, Languages,

Tips to start the academic year well

Nowadays, the term globalization is known by virtually everybody. This concept has not only changed the interactions between the different countries, but also our perspective of the world as a whole. Exchange Programs give you as a student the opportunity to take such interactions to the next level, which has a positive impact on your resumé, among other advantages for your professional life.

Indeed, there’s nothing better than getting out of your comfort zone, and an exchange program is certainly a great way to do so. During the time that you will be far away from home, sharing with new people, speaking a different language, and immersed in a different culture, you will have the opportunity to learn about a different part of you, one that maybe you didn’t even know that existed.

Probably you have been making preparations for a very long time to get ready for your exchange program by gathering documents, going to interviews, saving money, etc. All of that mixed with several emotions like excitement for having this kind of opportunity, longing for leaving your home and family for a while, and a lot of expectations about the new country, host family, University … It is definitely a big change, but don’t be afraid, in the lines below you will find some recommendations to deal successfully with all these things and have a great experience during your exchange program.

Dealing with your emotions

Yes, as I said before there are a lot of psychological and emotional situations that come to the surface during experiences such as exchange programs and you have to be aware of that. It is completely normal to feel a little bit overdosed. In this case, there are three words I like to remind myself: gratefulness, pride, and confidence.

Be grateful for being able to be part of this exchange program that will surely become into a life-changing experience in every way. Be proud of giving you the chance to face this challenge, which will improve your skills in every way. And every time you feel sad or nostalgic for what you left behind, have the confidence and trust that this is the right decision for your own life and future, as well as  for your loved ones who will understand and wait for you to come back and share with them all the things you learned during your exchange program.

Before departure

Getting organized

Before leaving your country and starting your exchange program make sure everything is in order: let your bank knows that you will be abroad for a while in order to avoid problems with your accounts and take copies of the most important documents with you. Also, investigate everything you can about the new country you will be at, it will make things easier for you when it comes to adaptation, and pay special attention to the official currency of the host country and take some cash with you, not only your credit card.

Practice your language skills

The new language will be an important thing when it comes to getting communicated in the new country, so the more you practice the most important words and phrases, the better for you. Get rid of shyness and start incorporating some new words to your vocabulary every day.

Once you arrive

Stay open-minded to receive all the knowledge that this experience brings to you as a student and as a person- The exchange program is a holistic adventure, but don’t forget that its main purpose is that you study. Pay attention to all the options that your new university offers you as an international student and take advantage of them, academic and socially. Make international friends and in your free time travel a lot, there are always options for every budget to enjoy and visit new places near from the place you are staying at.

Respect the new culture

Learning about a new culture

This new country will be full of new traditions and laws. Be sure to respect them, learn and take part in them too. It may take you some time to get adapted to these new rules, but it will worth your while. Finally, find support in your host family, University’s authorities and partners, have fun and appreciate every second. Quite simply: get the most out of your exchange program.

Suitcase
Travel, World,

How to prepare before making an exchange

So you already made the decision to participate in an exchange program and you are very excited. First, let us congratulate you because you’ll live an experience from which you will get many benefits. Now, in this article, we will give you a series of recommendations so that you can make the transition between your country and the host country in the best way, and get the most out of your exchange program.

1. Make sure you have a valid passport and visa

Passport

Many countries require that the traveler’s passport be valid for 6 months after the date of return, so make sure that yours meets this requirement. Also, find out about the type of visa you need (if required), which will depend on your country of origin and the duration of your exchange program: usually, if the program lasts more than three months you will need a student visa. In any case, try to have these documents at least two months before the date of your trip to be able to handle any delay in that regard.

2. Acquire travel insurance

Your current medical insurance may not have international coverage. In such case, it is convenient that you acquire an international policy for students in order to be covered before any contingency that may arise on the flight (such as the loss of your luggage) or during your stay in the host country. It is better to be alert to the occurrence of this type of situation.

3. Find out about travel warnings and recommendations

It is important that before embarking to your exchange program’s host country you should find out if there are warnings and travel recommendations regarding that country with respect to health issues or problematic social conditions which may not be covered by travel insurance.

4. Pack properly

Suitcase

At the time of packing, you should not only define the type of clothing you must carry with you take taking into consideration the climate that will be in the country of destination during your stay, but you should also avoid storing valuables in your suitcases. It is preferable that you take this type of objects with you in your carry-on luggage, as long as this is allowed by the airline. Also, it is recommended that you be aware of your luggage at all times and that you do not receive objects from other people to avoid risks.

5. Get vaccinated and obtain medical prescriptions if you need them.

Some countries require that one or more vaccines have been placed in order to enter them; Find out in advance this information, preferably six weeks before your trip. Likewise, if you have any special health condition or use corrective lenses, it is important that you bring all this information so that you can give it to a doctor in the host country, if necessary. Also, if you plan to take medicines from your country of origin to use them during your exchange program, it is important that you bring the medical prescription that proves your medical condition, and that you ask the airline if there are any restrictions in the host country in this regard.

6. Contact the closest diplomatic corps

Once you are in the host country, it is important that you go to the closest consulate or embassy of your country to report your presence in the first. This is important because these diplomatic corps are in charge of handling the evacuation of the citizens of their country in case of an emergency.

7. Get in touch with your banks

Banks usually block unusual transactions. For this reason, contact the banks that issue your credit cards to inform them that you will make a trip as well as its duration so that you do not have any problems when making payments during your exchange program. It is important that you have at hand in a safe place the telephones of your banks as well as the keys or any necessary information in that sense in case you require it to handle any situation with these institutions during your exchange program.

Do you want to participate in an exchange program? Contact us so we can help you.

The Mayan calendar
Languages, Travel, World,

Advantages of learning Spanish, countries that you can visit and communicate without problems

Wanting to learn a new language usually has to do with two causes: 1. Professional reasons or 2. An inclination towards it or with respect to the culture where it is spoken. In the case of Spanish, it can be said that for many people these reasons converge. Indeed, from the commercial point of view, many companies are interested in addressing an audience of more than  400 million people, but from the cultural and tourist point of view, this language is one of the distinguishing marks of more than 21 countries, which are the countries where Spanish is the official language today. In this article, we will talk about the countries that you will be able to visit and communicate without any issues after you learn Spanish.

Communicate with more people in the United States

If you live in the United States or want to connect with more people from this country, it is a good idea to learn Spanish, because according to an article published on the website of The Guardian in the United States there are more people who speak Spanish than in Spain itself.

Spain and Latin America

Speaking of Spain, learning Spanish would allow you to go to this country without having communication issues, and there is so much to do and things to learn in Spain! There you’ll enjoy the most picturesque festivals and traditions, but also stroll through its many cities and towns, these being its main tourist destinations. Also, Spain is an excellent destination country to go on an exchange program through which you can get a quality education and learn or improve your Spanish skills, for which you can also follow these tips.

Also, by learning Spanish you will be able to communicate with Latin Americans and it is difficult to synthesize such a rich culture in a few words. To speak of Latin America is to speak of the Inca Empire, whose Brain surgeries were said to be better than those done during the American Civil War 400 years later. Latin America is also about the Mayan Empire, which, among other inventions, had a great astronomical, scientific and architectural development, which is evidenced by its pyramids, calendar, and writing system.

The Mayan calendar

Moreover, you can learn about the colonial era, the independence wars and all the internal and external conflicts of each Latin American country, which shaped their current geography and idiosyncrasy. In this context, the arts were developed, being some of the more named  Latin artists the Mexican Frida Kahlo, the Colombian Fernando Botero, as well as the Venezuelans Carlos Cruz Diez and Armando Reverón.

 

Fernando Botero’s version of the Mona Lisa

In Latin America there are also writers laureate with the Nobel Prize for Literature, as is the case of Gabriela Mistral (1945), Miguel Angel Asturias (1967), Pablo Neruda (1971), Gabriel García Márquez (1982) and Mario Vargas Llosa (2010) , among other Spaniard and Latin American authors who speak Spanish and received this award and whose books you can read once you learn this language.

Finally, there is also a wide diversity of autochthonous musical genres such as merengue, salsa, bachata and vallenato, being some of the most prolific artists of these genres Wilfrido Vargas, Rubén Blades, Juan Luis Guerra and the Binomio de Oro, respectively -not to mention the many singers and groups of each musical genre that currently exists in Latin America.

Unusual places in the world where Spanish is spoken

Maybe you had some knowledge about what you have read so far, but did you know that by learning Spanish you can also travel and communicate in an African country? That’s right, one of the official languages of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish. However, this last country is not the only unusual tourist destination where this language is spoken. In fact, in Asia there is a country that although Spanish is not its official language, it’s spoken by more than 2 million people: we are talking about the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony for 300 years.

On the other hand, in Andorra, 93% of people speak Spanish and there are minorities that speak Spanish in Aruba, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Guam, Western Sahara, Algeria, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland. Thus, Spanish is spoken in countries of the five continents, so learning this language will open many doors. Now, the best way to learn a language is going on an exchange program. Would you like to become an exchange student? Please contact us so we can help you.

The Sagrada Familia
Travel, World,

Best plans to do if you visit Barcelona

The sky exists and it’s called Barcelona. This city combines architectural wonders, art, beautiful parks, a dream nightlife, friendly people, one of the best football teams in the world and, as if that were not enough, cool beaches. You must definitely visit Barcelona. In this article, we will tell you some of the best plans to do when you visit Barcelona.

Visit Barcelona’s parks

Parc del Laberint

Barcelona has a wide selection of parks where you can breathe fresh air and connect with nature. Among these can be mentioned the Parque de la Ciutadella, which was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1888, has an area of more than 17 hectares and is one of Barcelona’s lungs. This park is characterized by having a large waterfall, a lake, gardens, a grove, a greenhouse, monuments and the Barcelona Zoo.

On the other hand, the Parc del Laberint, designed in 1792 by Domenico Bagutti, is the oldest garden in Barcelona. It has an extension of 55 hectares in which there is a neoclassical garden and a romantic one. The main attractions of this park are the Minotaur’s Grotto, the Chinese gate, the artificial rocky waterfall and the romantic canal.

On the other hand, among many other parks in Barcelona, you can not miss are the Joan Miró Park, the Botanical Garden, Turó Park, the Park of Montjuic and Park Güell, one of the many splendid works of Gaudí, who we will talk about next.

Learn about Gaudí’s work

The Sagrada Familia

Antonio Gaudí was considered the most revolutionary architect of modernism and was characterized by building comfortable and striking buildings. Fourteen of Gaudí’s works are in Barcelona, among these can be mentioned the Sagrada Familia, an impressive basilica whose construction is estimated to culminate in 2030; Casa Milá, a modernist building built between 1906 and 1910; the Casa Batlló, another avant-garde building that represents the battle of San Jorge, and the remodelling of the Güell Palace, in which Gaudí provided creative solutions to increase the elegance and habitability of such palace.

Marvel at Barcelona’s cathedrals and churches

The Sagrada Familia is not the only important religious building in Barcelona. In fact, the Basilica of Santa María del Mar is the church preferred by locals. Sometimes concerts are held in this basilica, as it has an enviable acoustics. Likewise, the Basilica de la Merçé, near Port Vell, has a Gothic style and was restored with baroque tendencies. It is worth noting also the Cathedral of Barcelona, built on the remains of a mosque and a Romanesque church in the nineteenth century, and the Royal Chapel, whose construction was ordered by James II of Aragon and is located in the Roman Wall.

Enjoy tapas, pintxos, and vermouth

The tapas are appetizers that come in many forms, the most famous being patatas bravas. Among the best places in Barcelona to eat tapas are Esquinica, Quimet i Quimet and La Cova Fumada. Now, the “pintxos” are the Basque version of the tapas: bite-size dishes served on top of a loaf, being the classics made of black pudding and cod, as well as the empanadillas, but there are also newer recipes. Finally, the perfect companion for tapas and pintxos is the vermouth, which can be drunk in historic bars or cellars. In this sense, Electricity, La Pepita, and Bar Calders are recommended.

5. Bathe in the Mediterranean

One of the things that makes Barcelona the perfect city is that, in addition to all its architectural wonders and parks, it is a coastal city. In fact, it has more than 4 kilometers of beaches in which to bathe during the summer but also to walk and connect with nature at any time of the year. Among Barcelona’s main beaches are the Nova Icària, Sant Sebastià, and the Mar Bella.

Do you want to go to Spain on an exchange program and visit Barcelona? Please contact us.

Learn Spanish
Languages, World,

Advantages of going to Spain on an exchange program

Spain not only has amazing tourist sites but also is a destination desired by those who want to go on an exchange program. Its academic offer, low costs, the warmth of its people and the possibility of learning Spanish are among the main reasons why many exchange students choose this country as the venue for their program. In this article we will tell you what are the advantages of going to Spain on an exchange program:

1. Learn or improve your Spanish skills

Learn Spanish

Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the United States, as we explained in a previous post in which we gave tips for studying this language. In any case, whether you do not speak Spanish or want to master this language, what better place to learn it than where it was born? Going to Spain on an exchange program gives you that possibility. Although there are many other places where you can learn Spanish, doing it in a first world country with as much history as Spain is a truly special experience.

2. Low costs of living

As everywhere, in Spain, there are expensive products and services, but usually, the costs of living are low compared to many other places in the world and especially in Europe. In fact, it is possible to cover the costs of living in Spain with about 1,000 euros per month. This is a great advantage for those who participate in an exchange program, as they can easily cover their essential expenses and allocate the rest of the budget to travel and partying. Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

3. Excellent educational offer

The Spanish education is also one of the most economical in Europe and is of quality. Indeed, several Spanish universities are listed in the topuniversities.com listings, the main ones being the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Barcelona and the University of Valencia, among others.

In Spain, there are 83 universities, of which 33 are private and 50 public. On average, the yearly tuition fees to study at a university in Spain, depending on the career, vary between 750 and 2,100 euros in the case of public universities and between 900 and 3,300 euros in private universities.

These prices are much lower than those of American universities, with the added bonus that anyone whose CV says they participated in an exchange program has advantages over other candidates to obtain work in the eyes of any recruiter. Thus, going to Spain on an exchange program is a low investment that will provide great benefits for your professional life.

4. Thousands of things to do

Soccer match in Spain

In Spain you can do something different every day: there are hundreds of museums, monuments, parks, cathedrals, beaches, mountains, stadiums where football stars play, an off-peak nightlife, sporting events, etc. In addition, the Spanish culture is very rich: throughout the year you can witness so many traditions and festivals that you will have to constantly remind yourself that you went to Spain with the aim of studying.

5. The Spaniard’s warmth

Spaniards are known to be passionate about what they do and also to be kind people. While being an exchange student there will always be someone willing to give you whatever information you need. Also, you will have the opportunity to see Spaniards daily for a given time so many of these will end up being great friends of yours or even something else.

In conclusion, being an exchange student in Spain has advantages from every point of view: you will learn or improve your Spanish proficiency, you will spend less money than in other places, obtain a quality education, know dream places and be surrounded by special people. Are you determined to go to Spain on an exchange program? Contact us

Culture shock
Family,

How to adapt to an exchange student

The experience of hosting an exchange student has a series of advantages but also its challenges, one of which is the adaptation of the host family to said student. Every family has issues of its own, and the presence of a new member could cause agitation, especially at the beginning of the exchange program. In this article, we will tell you the three most important things you must know to get adapted to an exchange student.

1. Understand that the exchange student will experience culture shock

Culture shock

A culture shock is a phenomenon that takes place when someone moves to another place and faces a series of phases. At first, there’s the excitement of being in that new country, after which the country of origin is missed. Finally, the person who moved will incorporate to their personality the values learned in the host country, at which time adaptation will have occurred. However, while this happens, it is necessary to understand that the exchange student will experience symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, head and stomach aches, withdrawal, rapid mood swings and inability to focus.

Naturally, anyone who suffers from these symptoms will not be at their best, and in the particular case of the exchange student, feeling homesick is added to the equation, so these students are not having a good time at all. Thus, members of the host family should keep this in mind and be particularly empathetic with the exchange student. In this sense, they can encourage the latter to carry out a series of actions with the purpose of overcoming said culture shock.

Among these activities are the realization of cultural exchange activities, sports, frequent contact with the exchange student’s loved ones, and encouraging them to build new social relationships in the host country. Regarding this last point, the members of the host family would do well to integrate the exchange student into their activities, such as inviting them to their social gatherings and other events. That way, the student can get distracted and meet new people.

2. Prepare to deal with family issues

Dealing with family issues

In every family there are problems and the arrival of an exchange student will not solve them by magic. Conversely, the presence of a new member can cause new issues to arise or others to aggravate, such as rivalry sibling and financial distress. Concerning rivalry sibling, the first thing to understand is that it is normal for this to happen. Children will always compete for their parents” attention, so the latter must constantly tell the first how much they love them and demonstrate it with actions, as well as reminding them that the exchange student is far from their country. For this reason, it is important to treat them with affection to help them overcome culture shock.

Now, about financial problems, this is a situation that must be anticipated and, in any case, managed. Although the objective of an exchange program is not the host family’s financial gain but the cultural and spiritual enrichment of all the parties involved, it is also true that this exchange program should not impoverish them.

For that reason, the host family should first analyze if it has the resources to fulfill that role and, in case of requiring compensation for the exchange student’s maintenance costs, this must be agreed in advance. Moreover, if there is a change in the family situation and it is necessary for said student to provide a higher amount, this topic should be addressed as well. Money does not buy happiness, but when we do not have it, it can be an additional cause of stress.

3. Give them joy

Although this can be deduced from the previous two points, it is necessary to emphasize that the simplest way to adapt to another person and, in general, to make any relationship work is by giving joy to others. Understand that the exchange student is a human being and as such they deserve to be treated with respect and consideration, especially taking into account their special situation. If the host family appropriately treats the exchange student right, they will do the same with them, creating a virtuous circle that will make coexistence enjoyable.

Are you interested in hosting an exchange student? Please contact us.

 

Get to know the world thanks to an exchange program
Travel, World,

Know the world thanks to an exchange

In this article, we will tell you how it is possible to know the world thanks to an exchange program. Let’s face it: the best way to do this is by going personally to each place; there is nothing like getting on airplanes to collect each country’s immigration stamps. However, sometimes the barriers to travel seem insurmountable. Below we will explain how to go through these barriers by becoming an exchange student.

How to overcome the reasons not to travel and get to know the world thanks to an exchange program

Get to know the world thanks to an exchange program

There are three main barriers to travel: time, money and personal safety.

1. Time

It could be thought that the fact of traveling to another country could temporarily stop our professional growth. The truth of the matter is that, as Oscar Wilde said: “Every experience is of value”. The fact of traveling per se is a transcendental experience: seeing how other people live, relate to each other and handle their own problems is something that we can extrapolate to our own personal situation, by using good examples as inspiration to improve our lives and the bad ones as a warning so to not make the same mistakes. Thus, even when you travel for pleasure you get something: experience.

 

However, when you participate in an exchange program, in addition to getting pleasure from traveling, you learn the content of the study program taught in the host country, and possibly also a new language, in the event that it is different from the one spoken in the exchange student’s country. In this way, traveling would not be in any way a waste of time but an investment in yourself that will give you a series of advantages at a professional level.

2. Money

Euros

Knowing new places, people and cultures will always be charming, but doing this within the framework of an exchange program goes much further. When traveling for pleasure you are a tourist, but this is not the case of an exchange student, since during your stay that student will be a member of the host country in the same terms as the others during the exchange program.

This has advantages and challenges. Among the first, it can be pointed out that being a member of another country has access to information, relationships and experiences that a tourist could hardly acquire: knowing which are the preferred sites for the people of the area, obtaining better prices on products and services, making friends, getting to know other people thanks to these, etc. This information will not only save you a lot of money but will make you live a more transcendental experience.

Among the challenges (not called disadvantages for the reasons explained below) is that an exchange student will experience the same difficulties as the people in the area: if there is a shortage of food, some basic service is interrupted, etc., said student will have to endure said situations. This has a double advantage: on the one hand the exchange student will learn to appreciate more their country, seeing that there are no such difficulties; and on the other hand, they must learn to handle these situations, which necessarily produce a personal expansion.

3. Personal safety

Another advantage of participating in an exchange program is that the exchange student will live in the host family’s home and will be treated as one of their members. Naturally, this family will ensure this student’s wellbeing and safety, by letting them know the safest places and travel methods and advise against those that could put them at risk. Although a travel agency could provide information in this regard, it is difficult for a company to have the same knowledge of the host country as someone who lives there, nor will it be as passionate about the exchange student’s wellbeing as the host family. Thus, you should not fear for your personal safety when traveling within the framework of an exchange program, as long as you act reasonably and follow the recommendations of your host family.

Taking into consideration the above, a person could participate in multiple exchange programs to get to know the world country by country. Are you interested in being an exchange student? Please contact us.

 

Parc Güell, Barcelona.
Travel, World,

Countdown of the best Spanish cities to visit

Each place in Spain has its charm. To say which are the best cities in Spain would be like making the same judgment about an artist or a meal: no matter how good it may be, to say that it surpasses others is almost a sin. What can be done is, based on the facts, to establish which are the most visited cities in this country, and the National Institute of Statistics compiled such information. In this article, we will give you a countdown of the five cities with the most overnight stays in Spain, as well as the main attractions of these cities.

5. Torremolinos

The last but not the least important city in this list is Torremolinos, which is located on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia and is home to more than 5 million tourists a year. In addition to the beaches El Bajondillo, Los Alamos, Playamar and La Carihuela, in Torremolinos there are theme parks such as Tivoli World, Selwo Marina and Crocodile Park Torremolinos, but also others for moments of relaxation and contemplation such as the Molino Inca Botanical Garden, the Parque la Baería and la Casa de las Navajas.

4. Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca’s Cathedral

Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the island of Mallorca and receives more than 8 million tourists a year. One of the main attractions of the place is the S’Amarador Beach, located in the Mondragón  National Park. It is the perfect place to go with children and picnic. Another natural wonder in Palma de Mallorca is the beach La Calobra, located in the Torrente de Pareis canyon. Now, from the architectural point of view, you can’t visit Mallorca without missing the Palau de l’Almudaina, Llotja and the imposing Cathedral of Mallorca.

3. Benidorm

Evening in Benidorm

Benidorm is the preferred Spanish destination for many older adults, because of its beaches, good prices for lodging and the endless activities that can be done, but as a matter of fact, this place is an excellent destination for people of all ages. There you can go to the beach, compare the old town center with modern skyscrapers, go to the Mirador del Castillo de Benidorm and go on a trip to the islands of Benidorm and Tabasca. Any time of the year is good to go to Benidorm but during the summer its beaches are flooded with tourists. For that reason, it is not surprising that it receives more than 15 million tourists a year.

2. Barcelona

Parc Güell, Barcelona.

Being surpassed by Madrid by only about 52 thousand tourists a year, Barcelona received 19,239,886 tourists in 2015. This city  has impressive cathedrals like those of Santa Eulalia and the Sagrada Familia, but also dream places like the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, which “dances” to the rhythm of music, and the Plaza Real, designed by Gaudí himself, who also designed Parc Güell, created with the idea of serving as a group of homes for well-off people, but which ended up being a 42-acre park inspired by English gardens. Also, Barcelona is a coastal city with great commerce and an enviable nightlife.

1. Madrid

Madrid is the preferred Spanish destination by about 20 million tourists a year. As it often happens in every capital, Spain’s capital has a busier scene than other regions, but it will surely steal your heart. In this article, we refer to the Royal Palace, the Wax Museum and other major attractions in Madrid, but also deserve special mention to the majestic Prado Museum, which among its more than 700 sculptures and 8,600 paintings includes works by El Greco, Goya, and Velásquez.

On the other hand, in the center of Madrid is Plaza Mayor, a place where thousands of tourists spend to eat or have a glass of wine, but also to see the street performers who hover the place. Finally, you’ll find The Retiro Park, which has an area of 300 acres, a site called La Rosaleda that has more than 4,000 roses, and a building named El Palacio de Cristal (in English, the Crystal Palace), which has art exhibitions and is reached by paddling.

Day of the dead
education, Family, History, Languages, World,

Discover new cultures while hosting an exchange student

Exchange students are not the only ones to have access to a new culture. In fact, members of a host family also get this benefit, without leaving the comfort of their home. These exchanges not only broaden the general culture of both parties but are a source of joy for all. In this article, we will tell you four ways how a host family can discover new cultures while hosting exchange students.

1. Learn new words and phrases

When a person participates in an exchange program, one of their main objectives is usually to learn the language spoken in the host country. To do this, members of the host family should try to speak to the student only in that language, but this does not mean that from time to time they can’t ask the student how certain words or phrases are said in their country. Indeed, having the host family learn such phrases or words is a way to show the student that this is important for that family.

2. Experience a different culinary culture

Another way to make a cultural exchange within the framework of an exchange program is for the student to cook for their host family. Usually, the opposite happens: the host family prepares traditional food of their country to which the student tends to adapt, but it would not hurt if, for example, a Japanese student prepares sushi or a Spanish one cooks a Spanish tortilla (omelet). By doing this, the host family will be able to break their culinary routine, but it will also be a way for the student to collaborate with household chores at a given time, and the fact that said student may taste food from their country could be a way to calm their evil of homeland.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that the dish prepared by the student in the host family’s home has a flavor that seems different to the one that is perceived when such student cooks the same dish in their country. This is normal because maybe said dished aren’t prepared with the same ingredients, or they have variations that, even if they are minimal, end up influencing the final product. However, the important thing is to have that experience of eating as a family. As the old saying goes: “A family that eats together, stays together”, a union that in this case will take place because of the exchange student’s culture.

3. Sing and dance to other rhythms

Tango dancers

Cultural exchanges can also take place from the artistic point of view. If the exchange student sings or plays an instrument, they would do well to do so in the presence of the host family. Also, if they know how to dance rhythms of their country or region, they could do the same. Imagine having at home a Spanish student dancing flamenco, a Venezuelan dancing to drums, a Puerto Rican dancing salsa or an Argentine dancing tango, to name a few of the many rhythms that exist in the Spanish-speaking world. Host family members may not learn to dance these rhythms in one night or even during the whole exchange student stay, but the simple fact of seeing the exchange student dancing to a peculiar rhythm will be cause for joy.

4. Celebrate special holidays

Day of the dead

It’s also a good idea to hold homemade meetings for celebrations that take place in the country of the exchange student, as would be the case of the Day of the Dead, as celebrated in Mexico and which is alluded to in the movie “Coco”. In such a meeting, the exchange student, with the help of the host family or other students, could organize the preparation of typical foods, sing and dance traditional rhythms, and speak their language.

As you can see, there are many ways in which a host family can open a window to other cultures. Are you interested in hosting exchange students? Contact us so we can help you.

Monfragüe National Park
Travel, World,

5 things you can not miss if you go to Spain on an exchange program

Are you going to Spain on an exchange program? In this article, you will learn about 5 things that you can’t miss while you are at it.

Spain is considered by many as a multicultural paradise that exhibits a mixture of many trends, leaving in each corner of the country a combination of ancient structures and modern facilities. Its capital, the beautiful Madrid, has hundreds of places for leisure and recreation. Know them below:

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum)

We will start our journey with this museum, which offers its visitors not only the possibility of witness Guernica, Pablo Picasso’s famous painting but also holds exhibitions that portray the purest moments of art to the point of tearing apart the most dynamic conceptualisms such as those of the exposition Dada Ruso 1914-1924.

El Palacio Real de Madrid (Madrid’s Royal Palace)

Madrid's Royal Palace

Madrid’s Royal Palace

Now’s the turn for Madrid’s luxurious Royal Palace, built by King Felipe V (1683-1746). There, you’ll find the Real Botica, a pharmacy founded by King Felipe II in 1594. It’s the predecessor of the current pharmacy faculties, laboratories, and establishments. Also, in the Royal Palace, you will find the Royal Armory which has an outstanding collection of armors and weapons owned by kings and other members of the Royal House of Spain that will blow your mind.

El Museo de Cera de Madrid (Madrid’s Wax Museum)

Speaking of mind-blowing experiences, watching our idols on the TV is always wonderful, but seeing them in person is not that common, is it? The Museo de Cera, founded on February 14, 1972, offers let’s you stand face to face with sculptures of historical figures ranging from Napoleon Bonaparte to Barack Obama, artists such as Justin Bieber and Leonardo Di Caprio and sports stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Pelé, among other 450.

El Parque de las 7 tetas (7 tits’ Park)

Madrid also offers you a large natural area with a particular name, the Parque de las 7 tetas, an incredible place that owes its name to the 7 hills located in that place. It has a bar or “chiringuito”, as it is known, and a viewpoint. So get ready to take some good pictures there and have a blast with friends.

Monfragüe National Park

Monfragüe National Park

Monfragüe National Park

Outside Madrid, specifically in the Cáceres region, you’ll find the Monfragüe National Park, which, just like the Parque de las 7 tetas, is entry free. Also, it remains open 24 hours a day, each day of the year. Take your backpack and walk by this park’s authorized trails always taking care of its natural spaces. Feeding the animals is not allowed.

El barrio la Latina y el Mercado de la Cebada (La Latina neighborhood and the Barley Market)

A good way to crown this tour by Madrid is by having a few drinks and share time with your friends-or a new flame maybe? This can be done in the La Latina neighborhood. Once there you can visit the streets of Cava Alta and Cava Baja, which have restaurants of great fame thanks to their polite treatment to customers and exquisite food, deserving special mention in that regard the starry eggs of Casa Lucio.

You may also visit the renowned Viaduct of Segovia and shop in the Mercado de la Cebada, one of the largest markets in Madrid where you can get a smoothie to relieve your hangover, in case you had too many bravas and chupitos.

Those were just some of the many places to visit for those who go to Spain on an exchange program. Have you decided yet? Live the experience. Contact us.

Patience is key during exchange programs
Family, Languages,

Keys to being a good host family

One of the less mentioned topics when it comes to exchange programs is that of the host family, the one that receives an exchange student at their home to host such student. However, this topic rarely addressed from the perspective of the family. In the following article, we will give tips to be a good host family based on the experience of people who have fulfilled that role. These are the tips:

Be aware that there will be changes at home

Changes

One of the main points is to remember that the student is not the only one who is venturing into a new experience. It is an unavoidable fact that the host family’s home environment will change at the presence of a new member, especially at the beginning when both are making great efforts to understand each other if the student comes from a country with a different language. It is easier to deal with these changes when you have already prepared to feel them and have taken into consideration the implications of living with a stranger. Above all, remember that many changes, however confusing, help us grow as a person.

Treat the exchange student as a member of the host family

The treatment given to the student must be on equal terms with the rest of the family. They already must feel worried because of being in a new place with strangers. Although the need to adapt is implicit in any exchange program, cultural clashes are inevitable. So imagine that this student is part of your family and treat him kindly and warmly, in such a way that even though your cultures are totally different, that student can feel comfortable in your home.

Honesty and clear rules are the keys

Be honest from the beginning regarding the establishment of schedules, assignment of responsibilities and other types of agreements to maintain proper coexistence. Also, communication with the student should ideally be in the language spoken at the host family’s home. One of the reasons for the exchange program to exist is for the student to learn the language and culture of the host country. In addition, it is necessary to inform them about your house rules, which must be applied in equal terms to the rest of the family. In that sense, respect for family traditions and collaboration in housework is essential.

Support the student exchange in its adaptation process

The host family must help the student exchange to introduce the latter in the country and its culture, accompanying them in their adaptation process. In this sense, they should be informed about how transportation works, how to interact with some people to make more friends. Also, host families should take students to interesting places, restaurants, museums, etc., where they can learn more about history, music, and local traditions. It should not be forgotten that the host family is in charge of helping the exchange student to take their first steps within the society of the host country.

Be patient

Patience is key during exchange programs

The first days and weeks are the most complicated ones because of the adaptation process. Never allow something that you do not understand to make you angry. The best thing is to solve whatever issues with communication. Once the student learns to communicate better in the new language, it will be propitious to inquire them about what life is like in their country of origin; you may be surprised at their answers. The exchange students are not the only ones who get to learn thanks to the exchange program; host families do as well.

Ask for other host families’ opinion

If you know people who have been part of a host family, you can ask about their experience or how they handled a particular situation. Never be afraid to ask questions, being informed is one of the keys to being an excellent host house. If you have any questions or are interested in hosting exchange students, please contact us.

Embassy of Spain in Washington
education, Languages, Travel, World,

Spain guide for exchange students

Did you choose Spain as the country to go on an exchange program? Excellent decision! You can see for yourself that this country has a series of advantages from an educational, geographical and human point of view that make it the ideal scenario for this type of program. Now, so that you can get the most out of this experience there are some things you need to know. For that reason, in the following article we will give you a guide for exchange students in Spain:

General information about Spain for exchange students

Barcelona Spain

Spain is a European country with a population of more than 46 million people. Its capital is Madrid and Spanish is its official language. The government system is the parliamentary monarchy, the predominant religion is the Catholic, and its currency is the euro. Many international students choose this country because it has many educational institutes that provide high-quality education, but also because life is cheaper there than in other European countries, besides having many tourist sites, picturesque festivities and very warm people.

It should be noted that classes are taught in Spanish and, in fact, it is difficult to communicate in a language other than that. Also, Spain has climates of all kinds, depending on the area and time of year, and in certain territories, there are independentist claims, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Aspects to take into consideration to enter Spain

Embassy of Spain in Washington

First, it is important to go to the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country to clarify any questions you may have, especially with regard to the documents you need, customs and baggage issues, financial services, medical coverage, etc. It is important that you know your host family’s home address, and also that you know how you will move from there to your study center. Also, it is essential that you know how you will manage your finances once you’re in Spain, concerning where you will receive money and the payment methods you’ll use.

By the way, exchange students are recommended to carry cash, as this is the only payment method that is accepted in many places during your trip to Spain. On the other hand, in case the student is a teenager and has credit cards, it is important that they know what to do in case they lose those cards or that they deteriorate.

About the necessary documentation, the main thing is that the exchange student has a valid passport which needs to be in good condition. Also, depending on factors such as your nationality and length of stay, you must report the terms of your visit, have a study visa and a letter of admission issued by the educational center where you will study and. It is very important to emphasize that in case a student visa is required, the exchange student must request it at the consulate of their country of origin, considering that if they arrive in Spain without it they will not be allowed to enter the country.

Additional requirements to study in Spain

Although the visa is exempted in certain cases in which the stay lasts less than three months, all exchange students must request it if their studies or research will take more than six months, as well as having a document that demonstrates their admission to the educational institution where they will study and a residence card issued by the National Police’s immigration offices.

Additionally, some exchange students must present the university entrance exam (PAU, in its Spanish initials), except those from the People’s Republic of China, Norway, Iceland, Andorra, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, and they meet the requirements to access the university in their respective countries of origin. However, these students must register with the Central Foreigners Registry and comply with a series of special procedures.

Finally, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of each exchange student going to their respective country’s Spanish consulate to obtain more information about the particular requirements they need to participate in an exchange program in Spain. Once such requirements are met, exchange students only need to prepare to have the adventure of their lives. Do you need more information about exchange programs in Spain? Please contact us.

 

How to adapt to the country where you go on an exchange program
education, Family, Languages, Travel,

How to adapt to the country where you go on an exchange program

Are you interested in becoming an exchange student? We are here to help! Read below for more information.

One of the most significant concerns of those who go on an exchange program is their adaptation to the country where the mentioned exchange program will take place. This is natural since they will be in a place where another language may be spoken, and the odds are that it will also have a different culture to that of their country of origin.

How to adapt to the country where you go on an exchange program

When going on an exchange program, students experience differences in aspects that are usually ignored, as is the case of food: when they eat common foods such as pizzas or a burgers, these meals tend to have different flavors, even if they have been prepared by the student themselves, with the same ingredients that they regularly use for it in their country of origin. This can cause students to feel a rupture and make them miss their country of origin. Is this your case? Don’t worry. Here are some tips that will help you adapt to the country where your exchange program takes place

Keep good communication with your host family

The best way to adapt in the country where you go on an exchange program is to establish an excellent communication with your host family from day one. Be honest about your expectations, clarify any doubts and resolve any problems that may arise. A simple misunderstanding can escalate creating an increasingly uncomfortable situation, so it is better to solve problems when they occur. Any issue, however complicated, can be handled provided it is done with enough tact.

Learn basic notions of the language spoken in the exchange program’s country

If your language is not the one spoken in the country where you went on an exchange program, make sure you have a basic knowledge of its language that allows you to at least express the most basic and necessary ideas. However, the objective in this type of exchange programs is usually that the student learns the language of the country in which the exchange program takes place, which they will be doing progressively on a scale of gradients.

Open your mind

Before going to an exchange program make sure to do it with an open mind, because if there is something sure is that you will meet different people and have new experiences. This type of exchange projects broaden student’s horizons: they open student’s eyes to make them see the world with a new perspective and manufacture what we now call “global citizens“: people with the ability to perceive their surroundings in a unique way and who are also able to adapt to all kinds of environments.

Have the right attitude

On having the right attitude

Adapting to a new environment is easier than it seems. In fact, it is something that happens at some point after leaving your comfort zone, as long as you have the right attitude.

A person who wants to live new experiences and goes for their goal without looking back adapts better than others who prefer to keep the same thought patterns and not have to face day-to-day situations. It’s not that it’s wrong to stay at home and have a quiet time, but the world is out there, and an exchange program is not just about moving from home, it’s a paradigm shift.

Moreover, having a collaborative attitude is the best thing you can do when you get to a new home. Share ideas about yourself and your country of origin while you talk, and help your host family with daily chores. The fact that you are in a new place does not mean that those who you live with will be the ones who take care of everything for you. By helping your host family, you’ll build a better relationship with them. Also, while at it, you may practice the new language you’re learning in the exchange program. Good manners are a symbolic way to be grateful to those who are opening a space for you in their home. Rest assured that such details never go unnoticed.

Create or participate in a support network

You should also know that you will rarely be alone. Frequently, exchange programs group several individuals, so there will be people like you living similar experiences. You can reach them to establish a mutual support network while you all adapt to the exchange country. On the other hand, it is highly recommended that you speak with those who have already gone through exchange programs. They can offer you their perspective on the subject and give you valuable advice which can make all the difference in your own experience.