Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seeing America Through the Eyes of a Foreigner

How could I have vowed to not blog about our foreign exchange student?? What was I thinking?

This experience is so interesting and I have so much I could share. I am considering keeping a journal at least to remember the things that are happening. So if I don’t blog my thoughts, I could at least have them for my own self. But so far we’ve been too busy for me to make notes or keep a journal.

Things are going well with our foreign exchange student. They are not just ‘well’ but fantastic actually!

One of the most fun parts is seeing this Japanese teenager’s reaction to things I take for granted, things that are so normal for us Americans. His reaction to the groceries at the grocery store, for example. The overwhelmed feeling he had when seeing the array of cheeses imported from around the world. The amazement of the live lobsters in the tank. Laughing at the prepared sushi sold in the refrigerated section. The fifteen foot wide display of so many different brands and types of rice. The ice cream cake was a new concept to grasp as were the huge, decorated birthday cakes. The self-checkout aisle at the grocery store. All these things had photos taken of them to record their existence. To sum it up, he said that Stop & Shop was “big, too many choices—confusing and freedom (to choose)”.

Costco was completely overwhelming and confusing and he didn’t like it. I will admit too that on a busy Saturday afternoon the place is a zoo of people and I usually avoid Costco myself. The huge stacks of goods (four tiers high) of goods was unbelievable to him and a photo was taken to document that.

Yesterday my older son asked if American children can go on foreign exchanges. He is asking to go to Australia or Japan. Later he asked if the programs exist for a full year, to which I said I believe so. He amazed me by asking to do that. All I could think was the boy that was attached at my hip, that wanted to be only in my arms as baby, the kid who wanted to co-sleep for years, may go off on a foreign exchange program as a teen? I’ll believe it when I see it.

Everyone in our family is enjoying our new family member. We are supposed to think of him as a family member not a guest or a tourist. If we like him this much after a couple of days I can’t imagine how we may feel at the end of one month. My husband keeps saying he thinks the boy’s parents must be beside themselves with their only child gone half way across the world for this month. I can only imagine that this experience will help this teen grow and mature and I wonder what his parents will think of the young man that returns back home in August.

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Shez said...

The first time I went grocery shopping in the US, I ended up leaving the store in tears because I became overwhelmed by the choices.

Sharon said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the experience so far! We have hosted 4 students and our 5th arrives next week. Wal-Mart and Costco are always a bit surprising at first. Three of our students have had their parents visit near the end of their stay with us, and have made sure to take them shopping.

Enjoy the rest of your year!