I've written a lot about how the almost-daily communication has been a good thing for us. I also realize, however, that that isn't always the case. A couple of years ago a girl told her mom to quit calling her once a week because her mom was putting too much pressure on her because she didn't think her daughter was having the proper exchange experience. The well-adjusted, responsible daughter was having the time of her life, but it wasn't the vicarious experience her mom was hoping for.
We've all been warned that boyfriends and girlfriends at home can be a big problem. Instead of being happy for their beloved, they sometimes make the exchange student feel guilty for leaving them for a year: If you loved me, you wouldn't leave me. They don't understand that the right thing to say is: I love you, and of course you have to go because we are, after all, teenagers who shoud grab all that we're offered.
Likewise, good friends sometimes do the same thing: You can't be my best friend if you're willing to leave me for a year to go off on your little vacation.
Here's what you shouldn't do to your friend or relative who is away on an exchange program:
- whine incessantly in your e-mail messages about how your life at home is boring
- repeatedly ask your friend/relative to come home
- accuse your friend/relative of being too good for you now that he or she is in Europe/South America/Asia because he or she doesn't have time to give your every grievance thoughtful consideration
- try to make your friend/relative feel guilty for not being at home to entertain you
- talk a lot about money concerns at home
- complain about mutual friends or relatives with the expectation that your friend/relative can do anything about it
- try to put your friend/relative in the middle of your social squabbles at home
- unload all of your perceived problems
- accuse your friend/relative of liking/loving your new friends/host family more than they like/love you
- report random bad news: Remember the recess teacher from fourth grade? No, the blond one with the big nose. Yes, you do too remember her. Well, anyway, she got hit by a bus.
That kind of stuff. Don't do it.