Cultural Adaptation

There are many cultural differences between Canadian and European households. Below is a list of some of these differences.

Meal Time

In Europe, dinner is the time for families to come together and share about their day. Meals are often eaten together at the table and can last longer than in Canada. Table manners and food preferences vary from culture to culture. It is polite to always try a little bit of a new food rather than saying no.

If you are used to eating meals on the run, please ensure that your exchange partner understands that they are free to help themselves to anything from the fridge and in the kitchen. You may have to insist on this point several times.

Participation in Conversation

It is most likely that students will not participate as much in family conversations during their first week of the exchange as they are adapting to speaking and thinking in a foreign language. Remember to speak slowly and to give your exchange partner the opportunity to respond. It is always helpful to have a dictionary on hand! 

Addressing Adults

In France and Spain, parents, teachers and older people are addressed using the “vous”  or “usted” form as a sign of respect. Please do not refer to them as “tu” unless they give you permission to do so.


Before planning an outing, make sure that it is clearly discussed with the exchange student so that he/she knows what is involved. In Europe, the distances aren’t as vast as in Canada. Therefore, a two-hour car drive could be overwhelming for the exchange student if they do not know where they are going.


There are costs involved with hosting a student. You will spend money as you show the student around your area and province. You are responsible for providing healthy, complete meals and snacks to your exchange partner as required, while having regard to your exchange partner’s reasonable needs. You must provide a packed lunch on school days or to pay for the cafeteria expenses. You must cover the cost of safe transportation to and from school and cover all costs for your exchange partner during family activities. These costs will be reciprocated on the second part of the exchange.