Exchange Student Experience

These are my experiences as an exchange student in Stony Brook in New York.

I spent the Fall 2009 semester at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and had a great time there. A semester abroad is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. It gives you so much: you improve your language skills, you get the chance to study subjects that are different from yours at home, you get to know friends from all over the world and learn there languages. Moreover you see a lot of new places like New York City and have the opportunity to travel around in an amazing country like the United States. But there are a couple of things I have to warn you about before you go, while you are there and after you came home:

How to become an exchange student

If you want to go on a semester abroad in your fifth semester you should start thinking about it in your first. This seems to be a long time but remember you have to hand in approximately 30 forms until the deadline which is one year in advance of your stay.

How to assimilate in your new home

If people say “Hi, how are you?” don’t tell them how you are because that’s not what they want to know. It is just a way to say “Hi” and any other answer than “Good” or “Fine” would be weird.

If people ask you stuff about your home country don’t hesitate to pronounce the words wrong which means try to imitate their accent to let them understand better what you are talking about. If they ask you where you are from be honest and say the name of the city. The next step is that they will ask you for instance “Is it near Munich?” because this is the only German city besides Berlin they know. Always say “Yes” otherwise they will be disappointed and the conversation will stop. If you said “Yes” they will be happy and tell you that their best friend’s sister’s brother-in-law has been to the Oktoberfest and really really liked it.

Warm shoes are for losers. Wear Flip Flops all the year and people will think you are one of them. If you answer your phone don’t hold it on your ear – how uncool! Use the speaker, everyone wants to know who you are talking to. Of course now you have to raise your voice, but it’s a good training for you. You should always speak a bit loader than you are used to otherwise people have to ask you to repeat it. But it’s not only your fault. Their ears aren’t that good anymore after listening to people talking that load for several years. If you want to sing a bit to your iPod that’s absolutely ok, and hey! it’s New York maybe you’ll be the next one who is touched by fame.

How people will know you have been an exchange student

When your family comes to visit you of course you will show them the City. They will be pretty impressed by the fact that you can name all single stations of the Long Island Rail Road in the right order between Stony Brook and Penn Station. But don’t show off because this is just due to the fact that you spent approximately 70 hours (17 weeks, at least once per week, 2 hours each ride) of your life in this train.

The mixture of languages between talking English and talking in your first language with your family and friends will definitely lead to some confusion. You will address English speaking people with sentences in your language and use English words while talking your language but I guess this will stop after being at home again for a while.

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A language guide for travelling to foreign countries

If you are planning to go on a semester abroad your language skills should already be good to get along in the new country. Once you are there you will see how you improve after only a few weeks. But also if you are staying in another country only for a short time, for example for your summer holiday, it is useful and polite to speak a few words and short sentences in the foreign language. Here is a guide to learn some basic words and phrases in English, German, French, Korean, Danish and Spanish.

English

Yes =

No =

Please =

Thank you =

Hello, how are you? =

Where are the restrooms, please? =

What time is it? =

Please call an ambulance =

Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? =

German

Yes = Ja

No = Nein

Please = Bitte

Thank you = Danke

Hello, how are you? = Hallo, wie geht’s?

Where are the restrooms, please? = Wo sind die Toiletten, bitte?

What time is it? = Wieviel Uhr ist es?

Please call an ambulance = Bitte rufen Sie einen Krankenwagen

Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? = Entschuldigung, ich verstehe Sie nicht, können Sie bitte langsamer sprechen?

French

Yes = Oui

No = Non

Please = S’il-vous-plait

Thank you = Merci

Hello, how are you? = Salut, ça va?

Where are the restrooms, please? = Où sont les salles de bain, s’il-vous-plait?

What time is it? = Quelle heure est-il?

Please call an ambulance = S’il-vous-plait, appeler une ambulance

Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? = Excusez moi, Je ne vous comprends pas, pourriez-vous s’il-vous-plait parler plus lentement?

Korean

Yes = 예 (ye)

No = 아니요 (ah-nee-yoh)

Please = 제발 부탁드립니다

Thank you = 감사합니다 (gamsahabneeda)

Hello, how are you? = 안녕 잘 지내니? (anyeon, jal ji nae ni?)

Where are the restrooms, please? = 화장실 어디있습니까? (hwah jang shil uh dee ee sim nee kka?)

What time is it? = 몇시입니까? (meot shi ip nee kka?)

Please call an ambulance = 앰뷸런스 불러주세요 (ambulansoo booluh joo sae yo)

Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? =

실레합니다. 천천히 말해 주시겠습니까? (sheele hap nee da. cheon cheon hi mal hae joo shi get sup nee kka?)

Danish

Yes = ja

No = nej

Please = vær så venlig

Thank you = tak

Hello, how are you? = hej, hvordan går det?

Where are the restrooms, please? = undskyld, hvor er toiletterne?

What time is it? = hvad er klokken?

Please call an ambulance = venligst ring efter en ambulance

Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? = undskyld mig men jeg kan ikke forstå dig kan du tale lidt mere langsomt?

Spanish

Yes = si
No = no
Please = por favor
Thank you = muchas gracias
Hello, how are you? = como estas?
Where are the restrooms, please? = podria decirme donde están los servicios por favor?
What time is it? = que hora es?
Please call an ambulance = por favor llama a la ambulancia
Excuse me, I don’t understand you, can you please speak more slowly? = disculpa, no puedo entenderte bien, podrias hablar un poco mas distinto y lento porfa?

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