An Objection To Those Who Object
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For anyone becoming an exchange student this question may seem preposterous, but it is really important to keep the answer in mind.
What are your true motivations for spending money and time in going to another country where you will even probably have language problems? Why bother? What do you think is the answer? Doing things just because you feel so may be great for a while, but regarding big projects in your life that may not be your best bet.
So, whatever your motivations are keep in mind them and remember that you will not be a tourist living in a hotel. Since you will stay for an extended period of time in that country you should adapt to the prevailing culture there; it will not happen the other way around, so be prepared, keep your goals in sight but also your mind open. If you will live in the home of a host family as opposed to a hostel, keep in mind that the people receiving you there as a host are indeed doing an effort, respect that and remain grateful. Most people around the world would never open the doors of their homes to strangers, they would not invite them to their table and would not share their lives, and that, except that your own family has been acting as host in the past, includes your own kind.
I am not saying this to appear rude but to speak the truth: If you and your family have not received any guest students in the past, then those folks that you still know very little about, living in a strange country, are in fact acting more generously that you, at least until now. Never forget that because failing to be grateful about this despite the inevitable frictions that will arise during your stay will be the decisive measure by which your experience will be judged by others than you. If you act like a hotel visitor, you will have failed, no matter what you think, because lack of gratitude is an attitude that goes against everything that cultural exchange programs stand for.
Keep in mind before going that you will have to do a little effort to keep in touch with the host family and don't treat them as unimportant. This will be the true measure of success, because no matter what, there is truly no excuse for not spending five minutes of yours from time to time to say hello to those who have been generous to you.
It is very stupid to lose the good will of generous people no matter how many shortcomings you find in them, so without any consideration to what you do in your life afterwards, if you become rich enough to own an airplane, if you get yourself a yacht to sail on or you become an authority in an university or politically active in your community; no matter how many degrees and diplomas and accolades you fetch in your professional life or how mach you will think you know about people's behaviour, if you don' pass the test of loyalty and gratefulness you will remain a stupid for wasting your time and money, the time and money of others and more importantly, the true goal of your actions.
If you make friends during your stay abroad, you will keep them for the rest of your life; don't let the chance go astray because friendship is more valuable than gold.
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