I saw this blog about exchange students written by a host mother from another country. I wrote the following comment on the blog:
We as Danes believe that the discipline measures are too much for young Danes to spend a year abroad because how would it benefit them when they return?
First and foremost the credits achieved in the United States and a lot other countries by exchange students are not acknowledged in the Danish Education system. The level Danish students are taught on is simply too high so the students would have wasted a year academically when they return home and have to start high school year behind the classmates who stayed behind. The Department of education in Denmark focuses on teaching Danish students as whole people involving educating them in social live and not just study pages for tests.
That is why they have Friday bars in Danish high schools where the students can enjoy a beer after school. It teaches the students to socialize and it provides a kind of security precaution needed when you cannot hide behind an ocean from the groups of terrorists behind the 9/11 tragedy. Suicide bombers don’t drink alcohol due to the heathen nature of their beliefs. Having students drinking on campus makes the possible threats stick out when they don’t join rest of the student body in the social activities.
So I have to ask: Would an exchange student experience not teach the students to isolate themselves? Of course, they will face difficulties to re-integrate themselves in our society. It would be a kind of reverse culture shock.
Don’t take me wrong. Stealing is wrong. Any student who steals from hardworking employees who pay more than 50 percent in income-taxes (as we do in Denmark) deserves to be sent back to the country of the student’s origin. Also there is the drugs issue. Drugs are in some cultures what alcohol is in Denmark. In stressful times people seems to need something to forget the world and when the obvious choice is not there due to legislation drugs are chosen because they are just as forbidden but easier to hide. That is how we see the drug problem in the United States. It is a self-inflicted problem caused by restrictions on alcohol. It is why the parliament in Denmark ordered a research into what percentage which would be safe for minors and the law in Denmark which is a purchase law stated 14.5 percent as the safe limit. Anyone aged 16 can buy alcohol with a percentage below 14.5
We do understand that we cannot ask other countries to accept our customs for Danish exchange students even considering the facts that the safe limit is scientifically proven. We cannot ask other countries to allow sex between teenagers when they are aged 15 as well. And Danish exchange students have been sent home for breaking both rules. We cannot ask exchange organizations to do background checks on host families either. This year an exchange student was bribed and threatened not to report about corporal punishment against small children even if it would result in her being convicted of obstructing the justice. There have been cases where the host parents have forced exchange students to sleep with them. But we understand that exchange student organization also have to earn money and home homes will be approved when the local supervisor have personal contacts and money involved. We cannot ask host countries to do anything about the issues mentioned above. It is not Denmark. It is another country with another juridical jurisdiction.
So what we have started is websites to inform and warn Danish teenagers from becoming exchange students. We will collect all the testimonies and new coverage where the exchange student experience has been bad. Only then can the number of exchange students being sent home be reduced.
The blog I commented on
The Rules are the Rules …. or, We Mean What We Say and We Say What We Mean (The Exchange Mom Blog)