GOOD VIBES FOR GOOD TIMES
You’ve been sleeping, showering, and munching away in your host family’s home for a few months and now it’s time to say thank you. Surely by now you’ve learned to say gracias but don’t forget to show your American side too! In this country we clearly LOVE to give gifts to one another so why not share that with the world? And more importantly, why not say thank you to the folks who’ve cooked and cleaned for you for the last few months?
I’ve been wracking my brains for a way to come up with a solution for this dilemma. For many of you out there in the big blue world time could be running short before your flight takes off! I hate the feeling of that kind of pressure. It’s a cross-cultural catch-22 that has no simple solution! You obviously don’t want to be cheap with your ‘thank you’ gift but you also shouldn’t want to empty your life savings in a souvenir shop. The solution? Be thoughtful and share your culture as a way of thanking your host family.
This advice came to me by way of my girlfriend who spent four months in the breathtaking Aix En Provence region of France. She says make it personal and make it cute. If you hail from Vermont, why not bring along some of that Maple Syrup I’ve heard about so much? It should be something that defines your region and something that you can share with each other. Food items are a great idea, but if you’re from Philadelphia, like me, putting a Cheesesteak in your carry-on is nothing but silly. International customs and security might even prevent you from bringing food into the country at all so be sure to check beforehand. Think about photos, books, and souvenirs from your home that you think might look good on a Spanish mantle somewhere in Madrid.
Finally, nothing says ‘thank you’ quite like the words themselves. So make it known how you really appreciate all the opportunities made possible by your host family. Buy a real Thank You card and write your message out on paper. Ink has this funny way of being nostalgic and touching. It’s more personal than an email, and could even ensure that another student in the future gets the chance to experience a foreign land like you did. There’s an awful lot of wrongdoing and nasty vibes in this world and young people of this generation have the chance to spread positivity and good feelings all over the globe through Study Abroad. So pay it forward for the next student and make your host family feel as welcome as you did.
– Mark Melchior
Mark Melchior has a B.S. in Television and Film Production from the Park school of Communications, Ithaca College, and is a contributing writer and staff Sommelier at Abroad101. While he’s not telling you how to quell your travel anxieties you can find him at the local record store, stuck in traffic, or quietly eating a slice of pizza. He is based in sunny Los Angeles, CA.
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