Be prepared for your program from the start
There is a lot to consider when going on Exchange, and we want you to feel as informed and prepared as possible for your life-changing experience.
We would recommend that any student thinking about going on exchange attends one of our free Information Evenings or Exchange Webinars. By joining us at an event either in person or online you will have the opportunity to find out more detail about our programs, meet members of our team and ask any questions you may have.
In the meantime, below is a list of our most frequently asked questions, and you can, of course, contact us on 1800 500 501 to discuss anything further.
Why become an exchange student?
To challenge yourself by trying something totally different! Exchange students aged 14 – 18 are granted the opportunity to become part of another culture by living with an overseas family, attending the local secondary school, immersing themselves into another way of life in a meaningful and educational way. Students gain a new perspective on themselves! Attitudes and values become clearer. Curiosity about cultural differences grows. As well as gaining new friends, a second family and language skills, future education and career opportunities are often enhanced through participation in an exchange program.
How will the Australian education of the exchange student be affected?
Education is for life and often happens outside the classroom. A cultural exchange experience accelerates personal development, decision-making capabilities, maturity, curiosity, knowledge, language facility, ability to persevere and acceptance of diversity.
As there is little continuity of educational systems throughout the world, Australian schooling may be interrupted so it is crucial to discuss your plans for exchange with your school before your program – and keep in mind many students change their goals upon their return!
What are the fees based upon?
As S.C.C.E. is a not-for-profit organisation, our fees reflect the actual costs of the program. All key program components are included, particularly insurance, as illustrated below:
International transportation and taxes: 35%
Overseas domestic transportation: 7%
Student insurance: 3%
Administration and support in Australia: 18%
Regional representation: 3%
Overseas administration and support: 34%
Why aren’t the shorter programs cheaper?
Some shorter programs are during peak airfare seasons. Regardless of the length of the program, Australian and overseas staff have the same responsibilities for selection, host family placement, bookings, staffing, support and accessibility. Insurance cover varies with program length. Ireland is the only S.C.C.E. destination where Host families are financially supported. The program duration does not otherwise directly influence the fee.
Why aren’t host families paid?
The student is not a boarder but an accepted member of the family – with all the privileges and responsibilities attached. Students are responsible for adjusting their behaviour to the values and priorities of the family, particularly the hours, chores, customs, food, TV watching and computer use.
The host family does not pay any medical (e.g. illness) or educational (e.g. school tuition books) fees which are the responsibility of student. Schools must be willing to waive tuition fees.
The student is not a tourist and may not partake in any independent outings or travel.
Am I ready for an exchange program?
S.C.C.E. will decide if you are ready once your application has been completed. After selection S.C.C.E. helps participants prepare for differences in lifestyle and customs, but only you can understand and implement the attitudes and adjustments necessary for a successful exchange program. Remember:
Not bigger, not smaller, just different.
Not harder, not easier, just different.
Not better, not worse, just different
Such is the mantra of successful exchange students who stopped comparing things with home, accepted and explored the differences and immediately began their journey as a genuine local. Friends, fun, family learning – they’re all there waiting for you, but only you can make it happen successfully.
You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails.
May I go with a friend?
Encourage your friend to apply, but do not expect to be placed near each other. That’s what is sometimes called taking ‘cultural baggage’ with you. An exchange student learns best by becoming completely immersed in the host culture and daily host-family life, and through temporarily halting the Australian way of life.
May we choose the host family?
S.C.C.E.’s overseas affiliate organisation in the destination country knows best its host families, support personnel, schools and areas of the host country, and based on this they will select your host family. Their priority is to ensure that the relationship between the student, host family, school and host community is mutually beneficial.
How do host families choose their student?
Your overseas exchange organisation presents to host families dossiers of students. Host families make the decision on which student they would like to host. As soon as this is confirmed, S.C.CE. is notified by its affiliate organisation and in turn, we contact you with your new family’s contact details..
Who are the overseas affiliates of S.C.C.E.?
Each overseas affiliate organisation has been carefully selected to exclusively represent S.C.C.E. and support our students.
All affiliates have procedures and programs to ensure consistency of management, which is of particular importance in an emergency. Constant communication, performance reviews, staff meetings and contracts flow back and forth throughout the year.
What help is given for adjusting to the host family?
As students have made contact with their host families prior to their arrival, the first meeting is often very relaxed; the relationship progresses as a pattern of normal life sets in.
If at any time you should feel you need help understanding a cultural difference, or would like some advice, contact your Local Coordinator. Local Coordinators live nearby and are experienced with the challenges associated with the initial adjustment, cultural differences, and family or school compatibility. You may receive Local Coordinator contact details upon notification of your host family.
How can I best immerse myself into the culture of my host country?
When in Rome do as the Romans do! Each day learn the culture, turn off your English brain and engage your foreign language skills, join in with your host family, become actively involved in your school and community.
It is usually 3 months before a student dreams in the foreign language.
Distractions from Australia will impede your adjustment. Limit communication with home such as telephone calls, email and social networking or text-messaging to once a month. A successful exchange program entails solo decision-making, compromise and acceptance of differences. Remember, the affiliate organisation is there to help you. Your Australian life is right there where you left it – waiting for you upon return.
May I travel while on program?
There may be school excursions or a family trip to look forward to. Any independent travel, however, is strictly prohibited.
May my family host an international student in return?
Yes, this is a wonderful preparation for your program.
Many Australian families host, particularly if their child is about to go on exchange as hosting is often the best research available to prepare students for what they can expect abroad. Similarly, many want to ‘give back’ once their child has returned from an exchange.
Through hosting, families gain an additional family member and learn another culture. More information about hosting can be found here.
What if we at home have concerns while our child is on program?
If your child is having a difficult time aboard they must immediately contact their Local Coordinator who will provide advice and support to resolve the issue. The Local Coordinator reports to their organisation which passes on any concerns to S.C.C.E.
It is often the experienced on-site personnel that best understand these situations and can provide the guidance needed for the ideal outcomes.
All our international affiliate organisations must meet the host family check procedures imposed by their governments, just as S.C.C.E. complies with those of Australia.
As provided on occasions during the past decades, S.C.C.E and affiliate staffs have gratefully realised that there are no better safety factors for a student than that of a host family wanting the best for their members, including their international student.
Our organisations have decades of experience and robust contingencies in place for the ‘what if’, which we hope never happens. For instance, some of the contingencies:
- Communication contacts for 24/7 of key employees in all destinations
- International air tickets that may not be changed without S.C.C.E consent
- Host family contact of Australians overseas listed with the Australian Embassy
- Choice of international airlines based on facility of:
– daily flights in and out of Australia
– personnel contact 24/7
– safety record and reputation
– their understanding of potential student emergency.
Call 1800 500 501 or come along to an information evening and meet some of our past students.