DMD Private High School Program

Giving students a rewarding educational and cultural experience.

DMD Private High School Program - Giving students a rewarding educational and cultural experience.

Living in the USA: Budgeting Your Money

By now, in mid-October, most of you have fallen into the swing of things in terms of school, host family, making new friends, and participating in school activities. Everyone at DMD hopes you are enjoying your time in the United States and that you are using every opportunity to do new activities with your host family and friends, as well as using some of your time to study hard and achieve good grades! Since some of you have been here for approximately 8 weeks now, you might be experiencing the costs of food, clothing, and entertainment here in the United States. Sometimes the prices of activities and even necessities can be overwhelming and even stressful, so in this forum, we thought it would be nice to highlight some ways in which you can save and budget the amount of money that you have brought with you here.

First, it is smart to think about the things on which you have already been spending your money, such as clothing, food eaten outside your host family’s home, and entertainment (which could include travel and transportation for your activities). These are likely what you need to spend money on as the year goes on, so in order to budget wisely, so that you have enough for the rest of the school year, you might find it helpful to follow some tips that have been successful for others before you.

Clothing… When buying clothes, it is probably a good idea to inventory everything that you already have with you. For example, if you already have a winter coat, and it fits, then you really do not need to spend money on that. You may need a pair of gloves, hat, scarf, and a spring jacket, though. If you need certain items, your host family can probably be a great help to you, because they live in the area, so they know the climate and what you will likely need in terms of clothes, and they also know the stores at which you could shop to find the best deals. Before you go shopping, try to find coupons that come in the mail, or in the newspaper and magazines. Again, ask your host family if you could use them; they would be happy to accommodate you. If you would like them to come shopping with you, ask them! Another option when shopping for clothing is consignment stores, in which you “trade” your old clothes and buy other lightly-used clothing at a much lower price than in a regular department store. Thrift stores are yet another option where you can find used clothing at a good price.

Activities…  Hopefully by now, you are involved in some school activities that you are enjoying very much! Sometimes there are nominal fees for activities both at school and in your community. A way to spend less money would be to decide which activities you want to do more than others. This way, you are not spending too much money on many different activities. You will find that your time is limited, anyway, with your studies and spending time with your host family and new friends. If you would like to participate in school sports, you might have to spend some of your money on school uniforms and related materials. In order to watch your spending, maybe it is a good idea to limit something from your entertainment list, such as going out to the movies two weekends in a row. Instead, you can buy what is needed for your school sport or activity, and do something that cost less at home for a couple of weeks.

Entertainment… Part of the experience of coming on an international program, as you have done, is to experience the culture of another country, in this case, the United States of America. In order to do that, of course you will want to participate in as many activities, parties, events with new friends and your host family as well! And, of course, doing all these fun activities costs money. However, when it comes to entertainment, there are many ways to cut down on spending! For example, if you like watching movies, instead of going to the cinema every weekend, you can rent DVD’s from your local library. If you ask your host family, you might even be able to apply for your own library card while you are living with them, so that you have more independence in that way.  Another example is if you like trying new foods, sometimes you can go to different restaurants with friends, but other times, instead of going for dinner, you can just order appetizers and share them all among the group you are with. It can be a fun way of trying many different foods, and you will spend less money this way, too! Check out restaurant.com for some awesome deals on dining out! And yet other times, instead of going to a restaurant, you can ask your host family if you can invite a few friends over and you can all cook together! You can find many delicious recipes online or in cookbooks if your host family has any, and you can have a great evening with friends making dinner and baking dessert together.

There are other activities that you might like to do while you are in the United States, which range in prices. Some examples might be skiing, ice skating, golfing, and surfing. If you think you might like to try some of these activities, a great place to look online is groupon.com, where you can find many great deals and activities for a better bargain! If you like to go to the theater or watch a ballet or listen to an orchestra or band, go to the web sites of the nearest colleges and universities. Many times, there are a variety of activities and entertainment for a great value!

 

The purpose of providing you with some budgeting tips is to help you make the most out of your experience abroad, and to do as many activities as possible, while maintaining a good budget. Continue to explore the new country in which you are living and studying and we at DMD all wish you a great school year and wonderful international experience!

Preparing to Leave the U.S. and Go Home: The Ups and Downs of Saying Goodbye

Can you believe that you have almost completed an entire school year as an international student? No matter what the results of your academic achievement, you should be very proud of all you have accomplished. You have not only attended a different school, but it was located in a different country! And you did all this without your mom and dad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and old friends and teachers. You have lived with a completely new family, a family of another culture, perhaps even with different religious beliefs and values. Maybe this family had children about your age or maybe even much younger than you are. You went to a new school, with different procedures and rules than the one you left, and a school where English is the language. You had to make new friends of a different culture, and learn how to get along with others who are not like you and your family and long-time friends. What an accomplishment!

In the coming weeks, you will be experiencing lots of changes, and with those changes will come many feelings and emotions, ranging from sadness at the thought of leaving the new friends you have made in the U.S., and your host family, to happiness and excitement at the prospect of going home to your family and friends, and finally getting to see them after such a long time. There are some things you can do to make this transition a bit easier for you, your host family, and your friends, as you prepare to leave the United States.

1 – Make a Scrapbook. Being an international student and living in a different country for one or more years is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of you. Undoubtedly, you have taken photos of many of your activities and the good times you have shared. Some students find it a soothing task to arrange these photographs into a photo album or scrapbook, so you are never far away from the friends you have made on your exchange journey. Have fun with it! You can arrange your pictures in chronological order of events, so it is almost like a diary of your life from the beginning of your program right up to the last day. If you do not wish to organize it this way, or if you do not have enough photos for this method, you can make a photo album of “highlights” or major events of your program. These may include your first days in the U.S., homecoming, holiday celebrations, vacations with your host family, and birthdays of you and your friends/host family. Your scrapbook may also include captions, describing the photo and the event, under some or all of the pictures, so that you will always remember these special times. Show this scrapbook to your friends, host family and teachers before you leave the United States, and then to your family and friends in your home country when you return. Everyone will experience your journey as an exchange student this way!

2 – Organize a Special Event. Of course, it is difficult to think of saying goodbye to the people with whom you have spent so much time over the past year or several years. You can help ease the transition by planning a special celebration with your host family and friends. Maybe you would like to plan a dinner and prepare foods from your home country, while your host family creates American dishes. If your host family allows you to invite your friends, you can ask them to either make something to go with the dinner, or they can make a dessert. During this “going away” party, take photos so you can always remember one of your final days on your program. Also, add them to your scrapbook later!

3 – Make a Video. Gather your friends and host family (perhaps even during the special dinner that you plan) and ask them to say a few words about how having an international student as a family member or friend affected their lives in a positive way. You can also video yourself, adding how being an exchange student impacted your life for the better. When you arrive back home, you can look at this video when you are missing your American friends, and you can show to your family and friends, so you can share your exchange experience with them! Also, it would be a nice gift to your host family and American friends if you made a copy of the video for all of them. They would also love to remember the good times with you!

4 – Write a Thank You Card. When you are leaving some place that you have been for a long time, there may be so many things you want to say to your host family, teachers, and special friends you have made during your program. At the end of the year, it might be difficult to put all your feelings into words during a conversation, so perhaps writing a special card to the people who have meant the most to you would be an easier way of expressing your true feelings. You can go to a stationery store, or even a store like Target, and find either a package of note cards, or one special card for each person to whom you wish to write. If you wish to write a card to your host family, for example, it would be a very nice gesture, because it will give you the opportunity to thank them for opening up t heir hearts and home to you. It can be a short and simple note, or you can use this time to reminisce with them about special times you have shared. Writing them a special note in a card can be great because the person will always have it, and they can reread your words whenever they are missing you. It is a meaningful way of staying connected and remaining important in each other’s lives for years and years to come!

Preparing to leave the United States, along with all the friends and “family” you have made, and where you have lived for a long time, while also getting ready to go back to your home country to your family and old friends, will most likely be a bittersweet time in your life, both sad and happy at the same time. Doing some of the activities mentioned here can really help make this transition a smooth one. If you can think of other activities that you plan on doing to help make leaving a little easier, please share your ideas in the Comments section of this blog post, so that other students may benefit as well! Good luck to you in the future, and in all you do!

Higher Education is Calling… Choosing a College or University

If you are currently a junior or senior in high school, you are likely deciding on which colleges you would like to attend, depending, of course, on the schools to which you were accepted, if you have gotten that far already. It is a very important decision at this time in your life, and one that should not be made impulsively, but with a well-thought out plan instead. In a research study conducted by Daniel Obst and Joanne Forster from the Institute of International Education, to acquire a deeper understanding of students’ motivations and criteria for choosing an international education, it is stated that “enhancing career opportunities and gaining experience for future employment, whether at home or internationally, are major contributing factors in a student’s decision to study abroad. No matter where you choose to study, it is important that you consider many personal and educational factors first.

 

1.   What do you primarily wish to study?

If you already know exactly what you would like to study and where your career path will take you, you have already made major progress in choosing a school. At this point, you will only choose to review schools which have your area of study available. In the study mentioned above, “survey respondents indicated that it was very important that the university offered a specific program or courses in their area of specialization.” Once you know this, you can do more extensive research regarding those specific content areas of interest to you, at each of the schools on your list. Do not despair, though, if you do not yet know what your future holds for you. If this is the case, it may be wise to choose a school with a strong liberal arts program, or perhaps even a junior college (two-year school), where you can satisfy all the core requirements for any degree, and then you can transfer to a four-year university later.

 

2.  In which location would you like to study…..metropolitan area or small town? Warm weather or cool climate?

If you have decided that you would definitely like to pursue your higher education in the United States, it is vital that you consider the climates of any college/university on your list of school choices. For example, if you cannot bear the cold, winter months, heavy with snowfall and below-freezing temperatures, you should veer away from any schools in the northern portion of the United States. Even if some of these schools in the northern U.S. have many other aspects you seek in a good school, it will be a tough, and perhaps even unhappy, four years if cold weather and blizzards are not something you enjoy. This can be a difficult decision, but it is a personal one, and only you truly know what you can handle. If you have an adaptable personality, you might be able to adjust, but if you are extremely adverse to cold, snow, and icy conditions, perhaps it would be best to cross those schools off your list. Interesting to note is that, according to the study, “California is the leading host state for international students, followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida.” Probably many of the reasons have to do with climate.

 

Something else to think about when considering location is large city vs. small town atmosphere. According to the Obst/Forster study, “ten metropolitan statistical areas hosted over one third of all international students, in areas including: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, and Miami.” If you like being part of a small community, with neighbors knowing each other, and close-knit friendships, maybe you would prefer a rural or suburban community, but if you thrive with many people always around you, lots of restaurants, trains, buses, and cultural activities, perhaps you would prefer a major metropolitan city in which to study, such as one of the cities mentioned here above.

 

3.   Is Cost a Factor in Your Higher Education Pursuit?

If money is a determinant regarding how much you have the ability to spend on your education, this can be a disappointing, but quick and easy way to shorten your list of colleges/universities choices. Whether you are receiving financial assistance from your family, or you plan to work to pay it all yourself, or take out loans, you should become educated now with regard to exactly how much money is allotted for your education before you make any decisions. If not a huge amount of money has been made available for you and/or you do not want the stress of paying for your education years after you have earned your degree, a good consideration for you may be the many state colleges/universities throughout the United States. Sure, all educational institutions are costly, but the costs are significantly lower if the school is not a private one.

 

4.   Do You Prefer a Small or Large Educational Setting?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” school, so it is up to you to decide if you would like to study at a small college or huge university. For example, if you have thrived in your high school experience, spent at a small school, with a great deal of one-on-one interaction with your teachers, small class sizes, and with a total population of 500 students or less, you may want to seek a small institution for your higher education as well. If you went to a very large high school, and subsequently felt “lost-in-the-crowd,” maybe now is a good time to consider a smaller, more intimate setting for the continuation of your education. On the other hand, if you have always gone to a small school, and thought that something was missing, now you can explore a larger university setting for your college years.

With so many factors to consider before deciding on which college or university to attend, we hope that you have found the information here to be useful. Something to remember: While the U.S. still has the largest share of international students worldwide, United States colleges and universities, educational associations, and the Government, are constantly taking proactive steps to ensure that the U.S. keeps its doors open to international students. If you are trying to decide on a U.S. institution of higher learning, and are having difficulty finding one to meet your needs, ask questions…..to your host siblings, host parents, your own parents, friends, teachers, and your guidance counselors.

DMD Private High School Program wishes you luck and fulfillment in all your future educational endeavors!

Understanding the Foreign Student Experience — My Trip to China

Wheels up! Finally, after a 25 hour delay and an extra hotel stay courtesy of Delta, I am on my way to Kunming, China VIA Beijing. Traveling alone can be a daunting task with the long flights, layovers and in this case many persons speaking in a different language and behaving with different mannerisms.

As I sit in my tiny seat I consider myself as a younger student, with less experience and more questions, and certainly more energy. How hard would it have been for my 16-17 year old self to travel thousands of miles alone and then arrive in a foreign land with native speakers with different accents and ways of behaving. Culture shock I am certain, the inability to move or think quickly without weighing out all options first.

So, I arrive at Beijing Airport, go through Customs, and head towards the Transfer line. This took a few minutes to sort out since the transfer desk was very small with only one person on duty. My name was not on the list PANIC! No, please simply double-check and here is my ID and flight info. The younger me certainly would have been more apt to a disruption or some sort of breakdown, and with no one there to speak the language, the end result, boarding pass, gate check and sitting and waiting could have taken much longer and much higher toll on body and soul.

The flight to Kunming is uneventful and quick. Pickup from my new friends and co-workers from thousands of miles away puts me at ease. I am now able to relax. Someone who speaks the language, who knows me well is now able to handle all of my verbal transactions as needed. So, what about the teenager who arrives with a little English, but not a full grasp? Yes, they meet with a lovely family willing to engage in an amazing experience together to help, but they only know each other from a brief exchange of emails, SKYPE and other electronic communications.

Getting to know the new culture, any culture can give one a better insight into the way a student will operate once in the new country. As a helpful suggestion to our local representatives and host families, it is important to get to know the culture deeply, so you have an ability to help the students once they are here and ready to have the experience.

Having been to Beijing before, I am somewhat accustomed to the behaviors and normal sounds, sights and smells of this intriguing culture. Many meetings, with families and students, give me an understanding and appreciation for what the parents expect of our office and our people in the USA. We are still responsible for people’s babies, though they are larger now, the feeling never fades. What a responsibility!!

At this point, I am feeling confident. People are happy, our program is helpful to the students and with many positives, it is apparent, this route is the right one for the students and our office. Now, time for some culture to really get to know what makes our friends and students tick. Next stop: Confucianism.

Character Drawing

After a windy two-hour drive in Beijing City traffic, we arrive at the school. It is a traditional Confucius School that trains students for two weeks with the intent on sharing the ideals, teaching, writings and theories of Confucius. Once you have taken the two-week Schooling on Character Drawing, you are given permission to then teach others this skill. What a skill it is. To make these perfectly round, or flat or angled Characters, you must use your right hand. With deliberate strokes, you have to stand correctly with the correct posture in order to get the intended look of whatever statement or words you are writing.

TaiChi

It seems with Confucianism all moves are deliberate. In order to create writings using character drawing, you must stand a specific way, hold the Weasel tipped Paint Brush/Pen a specific way, and very, very slowly scribe your way across the paper. Another process of deliberate movements is Tai-Chi. We had the luck of having a seasoned Master present, along with four other students, a few Tai-Chi movements. As with anything new, getting down the process was a course in self-control. The ability to hold yourself in one position then move from the position with such fluidity will always impress. It was like watching water flow around a person in slow-motion. With 108 moves to master, it seems my half of a move will still take some time to master.

Getting to know the Chinese Han culture was a greatly influential experience. Much of the teachings and feelings involve peace, love and understanding. Continually you will see in this Culture ways to calm down, to slow down, to first look inward positively, then leave your mark outwardly. Again, there are very deliberate  ways in which this is done, and Character drawing and Tai-Chi mark only two of them.

During this whirlwind tour, I was able to speak to more than 800 7th graders, 200 new and potential families, and meet many teachers, parents and fellow International Agent Partners.   This experience along with the deep cultural experience has forever etched into my mind the important of knowing your product; in our case, the students. We need to remember where each one is from when dealing with issues and pull from this knowledge base in order to provide the proper constructive answers to help lead to their success. After these students, these young adults will soon be bringing back their impressions from America, I wonder what they will take away from our culture?

 

Enjoy the Pleasant Weather….But Beware of Spring Fever!

Spring is just about here, at least according to our calendars, but many have yet to experience the milder temperatures since it was an extraordinarily cold winter for many in the United States. However, be patient…..warmer weather is on its way, and there are so many activities you can do soon that you may not have been able to enjoy during the brutal winter months. Some might include doing more activities outdoors, a welcome break from many of us being cooped up indoor for months and months; joining a spring sport at school; doing intramural sports/events/activities through a local community center; getting together with friends and host siblings at a park or beach.

At school, there are many extracurricular activities and sports teams for which you can try out or join. In many schools with a drama club, a Spring Musical is presented. If you are interested in this, you can participate in the school play/musical in a variety of ways, such as trying out for a role in the play, playing an instrument in the pit orchestra, joining the crew and being part of the backstage hands and/or lights and camera crew team. It is a fun way to spend time after school, during all the rehearsals, and a great way to expand your social circle! If you are more physically active, though, you might consider joining a spring sport, such as Field Hockey (girls), Baseball (boys), Softball (girls), Tennis, and Track & Field. In case your skills are not polished enough to become a team member, if you are still very interested in one of the sports activities, you can speak to the coach and perhaps become a score keeper/manager. In these cases, you would attend all games with the team and it is another great way to make new friends while in the United States!

If you belong to a community center through your host family, such as the YMCA or YWCA, you can inquire there about spring activities in which you might be able to participate. Sometimes there are swimming lessons, gyms on site that you can go and work out with host siblings or friends, or participate in local walks/runs, usually to fundraise for a great cause in your community. Also, if you go to a church or temple nearby, there might be a Youth Group there, in which you can attend, and participate in similar events for the community, as well as do things to help the needier people in your city.

During the spring months, on weekends when you might not have as many obligations, it is a great time to get together with friends to enjoy time at the local beaches, lakes, or parks. A bunch of friends can get together at a local park to play a game of football or have a picnic. Everyone can bring something to eat and you can all share to have a nice meal! The beaches in some communities are beautiful and you can take a walk or a run near the water, play a game of volleyball on the sand, or walk on the boardwalk or around a lake, if you’re not near the ocean.

We will all appreciate the warmer weather as it nears, but it is important that while you will likely want to spend more time outdoors, participating in recreational activities, it is also important that you maintain good grades and study, because the end of the year will mean that final exams are near, and you will need to use much of your extra time studying. So be sure to enjoy the new season as it approaches, but remain a dedicated student, which will be imperative for your future as a student and later, as a person out in the world, realizing all your dreams!

DMD Private High School Students… Making Their Way in the World After Their Program!

Being a participant on the DMD Private High School Program is a completely enriching, academic, social, and positive life-changing experience for many students. Not only is it a great way to make new friends, solve your own problems, live more independently, travel, experience school in another country, but also it is frequently an avenue for students to become admitted into the colleges and universities of their choice, and to some of the most competitive colleges in the country!

Specifically, there is a DMD student at a private high school in Massachusetts. Her name is Hyunsue Kim, and this is her second year with us on the program. A senior at her school, Hyunsue is involved in many activities, including Choir, Ambassador Club, Student Council, Math League, and Literary Magazine. Recently, Hyunsue has spoken in front of international agents from all over the world at the Familiarization Tour for DMD. She talked about life at Lowell Catholic as an exchange student. She also compared the differences between public and private school, since she attended the public program last year. In the Ambassador Club, Hyunsue acts as a tour guide for prospective students and their parents. At an open house, Hyunsue showed families all around the school, answering any questions they had. She believes that this club has helped give her confidence in many situations! Aside from all the school extracurriculars that Hyunsue is involved in, she also makes times for friends and having fun! She recently attended the Homecoming Dance and said that it was great fun! Also, she has traveled to different places already with her host family, such as Maine, New Hampshire, and the Fryeburg Fair.

Hyunsue was accepted at Purdue University, Stony Brook University, and University of Massachusetts. All in all, Hyunsue has had and continues to have an extremely successful and fulfilling program as a DMD international student. We wish her continued success in school and in all her future endeavors as an integral part of society, whether in South Korea, the United States, or any country she decides to spend her life!

In addition to Hyunsue, other DMD students who are enrolled in private high schools throughout our country have also been accepted to colleges already. To name a few: Lam Nguyen, a student at a high school in Indiana, has been accepted to Valparaiso University. Another student in Indiana, Khang Phan, is going to be attending Holy Cross College next year. Xixuan “Vincent” Wang, a student at one of our private high schools in Florida, has been accepted to several schools, High Point University, West Virginia University, Flagler College, Arizona State University, Washington State University, Ashland State University, and University of Louisville. Students attending high school in Massachusetts are Yue Yang, who was accepted Suffolk University and Quinnipiac University, and Kun Yuan will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Congratulations to ALL our DMD students on their achievements, past and future, and we wish them all the best of wishes in their future endeavors as productive members in the world! We at DMD continue to strive toward becoming a stepping stone for many other students as well, to achieve similar accomplishments in the future.

Winter Olympics 2014

The Winter Olympics are here, scheduled to take place February 7-23, in Sochi, Russia. Ninety eight events in 15 winter sports will be held. Sochi was elected as the host city, in July 2007, and the Sochi Olympics will be the first Olympics in the Russian Federation since the breakup of the USSR in 1991. On September 29, 2013, the Olympic torch was lit in Ancient Olympia, beginning a seven-day journey across Greece, and on to Russia. Then the torch relay started at Moscow on October 7, 2013, before passing 83 Russian cities and arriving at Sochi on the day of the opening ceremony. It is the longest torch relay in Olympic history, a 40,000-mile route.

Olympics events include figure skating, women’s ski jumping, mixed relay biathlon, ski half-pipe, team relay luge, speed skating, short track speed skating, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, snowboarding, bobsleigh and skeleton, ice hockey, and curling.

With the Olympics taking place in Russia, it brings to mind the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the USA Men’s Hockey Team was victorious over the heavily-favored Soviet team in the medal round, later being dubbed the Miracle on Ice. When the University of Minnesota head coach, Herb Brooks, interviews with the U.S. Olympic Committee, he discussed his philosophy on how to beat the Soviet team, calling for changes to the practice schedule and strategy. Brooks starts the team on an exhausting conditioning drill (which became known as “Herbies”), in which the team sprints together back and forth across the ice, repeatedly.

As the Olympic tournament begins, the American trail Sweden 2-1 in the first game, and in the final minute, make a dramatic 2-2 tie. Then the U.S. follows that with a 7-3 win over heavily-favored Czechoslovakia, then victories over Norway, Romania, and West Germany, earning a spot in the medal round.

The Americans are considered overwhelming underdogs to the Soviets in the first medal round game. Soviets score the first goal. Buzz Sneider then scores a goal for the U.S. team. In the second period, the Soviets score a goal to go up 3-2. Later, as a penalty is about to expire, the U.S. gains a 4-3 lead. In the final few seconds, as the Soviets become increasingly aggressive to score in the final 10 minutes, commentator Al Michaels says his now famous words, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” The Americans complete one of the biggest upsets in sports history! Two days later, the team went on to defeat Finland, and win the gold medal.

As with the 1980 Winter Olympics, each Olympics has their own single event, or momentous circumstance, which makes that particular Olympic year special or unique. Wonder what that might be for the 2014 Winter Olympics!

Welcome to 2014… Getting Back Into the Swing!

Happy New Year! By now, in mid-January, you are back to school, back to your host family if you went home for the holidays, and back to routine, but the New Year is often also a wonderful time of reflection, and using the past to make hopeful changes for the future. These changes can include academic, personal goals, friendships, and host family relationships. Below are some ways in which you might think about some positive changes for you in this New Year!

 

Academic Resolutions… Even if you had not been living up to your own standards of academic achievement during the Fall semester, it is never too late to make a fresh start and rededicate yourself to your studies in a new and committed way. For example, if you have not tapped into all the resources that your school has to offer, now is a perfect time! if you are having trouble with your Math course, you can inquire with a teacher or guidance counselor whether there is a “Extra Help” sessions offered before or after school, or perhaps your school has a Math Lab, where a teacher facilitates help in your area of difficulty. Also, some schools have peer tutoring schedules, where your classmates who may excel in one subject area help students who are having some difficulties in that same area. Additionally, you may meet with friends after school to form study groups at one of your homes, the school library, or the community library in your town. It is a great way to maintain good academic standing while making new friends and maintaining existing friendships. In class, take good notes and raise your hand to ask questions if a specific concept being taught is not clear to you.

 

Personal Goals… Sometimes, at the start of a new year, people reflect on changes they would like to make in their personal lives. Maybe you had been thinking of becoming more active or joining a gym. Perhaps you can try out for a Winter sport, such as Winter Track or Wrestling. Another plus side to this, is the possibility of great new friendships built on common interests. If you are currently involved in other activities that prohibit you from joining an organized school sports team, maybe you and your host siblings or friends can play basketball…either at home or at a local YMCA or community gym.

 

Another personal goal that you might have is helping out your host family more, with chores, or with younger host siblings. For instance, if you and your host family are all lingering around the dinner table after a meal, show your appreciation for them by being the first one to start clearing the table! If you have a younger host sibling, offer to help him/her with homework or play some sports activity outside, like throwing a football around or playing catch together, with a baseball and glove.

 

Friendship Resolutions… Being in a different country can be an exciting, but lonely time, as you have probably figured out by now, so the start of 2014 can be a great time to nurture relationships you have already developed, as well as make new friends! With existing friends, you can try doing different activities together. If, in the past, you had only always hung out and watched movies together, perhaps you can revive the friendship with a new interest, such as joining a sport together, or going out to the cinema together, and even studying together. New friendships will also likely start to form naturally because you are becoming involved in new activities. Then, you can even bring your old friends together with your new ones, and you can form lasting friendships this way!

 

Whatever your 2014 plans include, always remember to remain respectful to your host family, teachers, school and program rules, and friends. Be safe, and good luck with your positive changes in a new year!

Christmas Vacation… Here in the United States

It must be very exciting to be part of the holidays in the USA, and for many of you, this is the first time away from home. School is coming to an end soon for 2013, and you must be very busy studying for midterm exams, all while you prepare for Christmas or Hannukah with your host family and new friends here. If you are staying with your host family for the holidays, there must be some fun activities that you have planned by now. If you are unsure what you might be able to do, or if you and your host family have not discussed any plans yet, here are some fun activities you might enjoy, while you are away from your home country.

Share a Special Meal… You must have had many meals with your host family and friends, but wouldn’t it be great if you could plan a great and memorable dinner together? In this case, perhaps you can prepare some traditional favorite meals of your home country, while your friends prepare some from their countries (if you have made international friends here in the USA), and while your host family prepares some favorite family recipes as well. It can be a “potluck party” where everyone brings a different dish, whether it is a main course, side dish such as vegetables, potatoes, or a salad, or a dessert. Then you can all share the meal and play games together. Fun games to play might include Taboo, Scattergories, or Outburst. These are games that involve teams, or a group of people, and can be very entertaining and fun!

Participate in Local Holiday Events… In your local town or surrounding community, there are usually a variety of events planned during the holiday season, when you will be on school vacation. Maybe you can ask your host family to drive you, your host siblings, and friends through lighting displays in your town. They can be very beautiful to see, and you can take pictures of them and send them to your family and friends back home! Perhaps you can see a Christmas show at a local theater. Sometimes showing are Christmas traditional favorites such as The Nutcracker, or a Christmas Spectacular. This can be a fun way to spend an afternoon or an evening.

Ski, Snowboard, and Skate… If you enjoy the cold weather and the outdoors, you can go to a ski resort if you live near one, and go skiing or snowboarding. Skiing can be costly, but you can usually rent ski equipment, such as skis, boots, and snowboards for a reasonable price, right at the resort! If you are interested in skiing or snowboarding, but have never tried these sports before, you can probably get a lesson by one of the instructors on the mountain. Ice skating is also a fun winter activity, and is much more reasonably priced. If you do not have ice skates, and if you do not wish to purchase them, you can also rent skates at the skating rink. Plan a day to go with friends. It is a great way to get together during your vacation from school!

Shop, Shop, Shop… You might think that the last thing you feel like doing is shopping, after you have already likely done so much of it during the days leading up to the holiday, but this is a perfect time to go, because almost everywhere you go are terrific “after Christmas sales!” If you live in a cold climate and are from a warm climate, like Brazil perhaps, you might not yet own very warm winter clothes. This is a great time to go because you will get more for your money. You might think about buying a warm winter coat, hats, gloves, scarves, and earmuffs so you will be sure to be warm as it gets colder and colder outside!

Plan a Movie Night… Some people might not like the cold weather, and you might be one of them. If this is the case, why don’t you plan a movie night with your friends and/or host family. Ask your host mother and host father if it is alright to invite a few friends over, and if you have host siblings, include them, too! You can all prepare a treat (such as cupcakes, brownies, cookies, popcorn, cheese and crackers) and share some munchies while you watch a movie together. Also, this could be a great time to show your host family some videos of you and your family and friends from your home country, and your host family might have some family videos that they can share with you! Maybe you can see what they looked like when everyone was younger, and the activities they did together before they met you. It is a special way to bond with your host family.

If you stay in the USA for the holiday vacation, make some great memories that you will never forget! Remember to take pictures, and enjoy a stress-free time with your host family and friends while you do not have school functions, homework, or sports/activities to be obligated to until you return to school after the New Year. Whatever you do for the holidays, whether you go back to your home country, or stay here in the USA, have an enjoyable holiday vacation, and be safe in whatever journeys on which you wish to embark!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at DMD Private High School Program!

American Traditions: Preparing for Holidays in the USA!

Many of you have already been in the United States for almost four months, and have nearly completed an entire school semester. It is so important to recognize and celebrate your academic successes, but also to embrace the cultural challenges and celebrate those as well, with your host family and friends you have made here. You have likely already been a part of American culture and holidays by celebrating Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Now it is time to begin preparing for Christmas or Hannukah, holidays that you may celebrate in your home country, but might be acknowledged a little differently here in the USA.

Some families begin the holiday preparations as soon as the last of the turkey is finished after Thanksgiving! Early preparations include: decorating the outside of the home with lights and putting lawn decorations out in the yard, in order to create a festive look, setting up indoor decorations on the inside of the home, including a Christmas tree, and/or Menorah. Hopefully, you can help your host family “trim the tree” and decorate both indoors and outdoors. Some families enjoy listening to holiday music, sipping on hot cocoa, and eating homemade treats while completing the decorating tasks. It can make things more fun.

Next in holiday preparations might include shopping for Christmas or Hannukah gifts for your friends, host family, and family and friends in your home country. There are usually many sales at local stores throughout the month of December. If money is a problem for you, as it is for many students, homemade gifts can be fun to make and are heartfelt tokens of friendship, that are much appreciated by people who receive these thoughtful gifts. For some ideas, check out this web site http://www.the36thavenue.com/2011/11/25-handmade-gifts-under-
5.html or simply google “handmade holiday gifts” and you will find many options!

During this month, there may be many holiday-themed activities at your school. Perhaps there will be a Secret Santa. There are many variations of this fun activity, but one of the most common ways it is practiced is: you are assigned a person (or a classmate of yours, if it is a school activity) that you will keep a secret. You are this person’s “Secret Santa,” and someone will be assigned to be your “Secret Santa” as well! You will then buy the person you are assigned a gift. Usually, on the day of the gift-giving, all the “Secret Santas” will be revealed; you will give your gift to the person you bought for, and someone will give you a gift as your Secret Santa! It can be very entertaining and enjoyable. This can be a fun school activity, or your host family might have a Secret Santa tradition with their extended family. If you would like to be included, just ask them! They would love to include you in their family traditions!

Additionally, many people take this time of year to remember the people who are less fortunate. With this in mind, there are usually many, many volunteer opportunities in which to participate. Not only can you buy a gift for a child whose family cannot afford Christmas or Hannukah, but there are volunteer activities which do not have to cost you anything! You may volunteer to wrap presents that people have already bought. Typically, this is done in a church or community center, and they have “wrapping parties,” where you get together to wrap the presents so the less fortunate families may have a nice Christmas. Usually at these volunteer events, there are refreshments to enjoy while you work. You can even offer to make some cookies or brownies yourself, for the event, to share with the other volunteers. What a great way to celebrate the holiday season with your friends, or make new friends during your volunteer opportunities! Sometimes nursing homes welcome members of the community to come in and visit, or perhaps share a meal with, their elderly residents. The holiday season is a very busy one, and to take a moment to remember people who live in nursing facilities, who may not have family living nearby, can make a world of difference to them. And who knows…maybe this can turn into a more permanent volunteer opportunity for you. The nursing home residents always need companionship and someone to listen to their stories and memories!

As the holidays approach, your life may become very busy and things might feel hectic for you. Remember that you come first and you must take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, try to eat healthily, even with more temptations available at this time of year, and take and emotional “time-out” every now and then. Just because there are a variety of activities in which you will be invited to participate, it does not mean you must participate in ALL of them. You must also fit in time to keep up with your studies, and you might even have mid-term exams coming up, for which you must study hard. Have fun and always be safe as you prepare for more American traditions!

HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAYS to you, your families, and friends!!