Experience with Center for Cultural Interchange
November 24, 2008 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Have you or someone you know used the services of the Center for Cultural Interchange, CCI? My daughter is looking to go to Europe next summer are we are curious about the experience others have had.

What did you think of the program? How were your host families? She is considering a language program and/or staying with a host family. What are your thoughts on these programs?

How was your interaction with the program staff? Did they work well to match you up with an appropriate family and work with your schedule?

posted by GregWithLime to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Send me a MeMail, please - I went on an internship arranged by them.
posted by HopperFan at 10:03 AM on November 24, 2008

My daughter has completed her month in Berlin with CCI and I thought I would share a few thoughts. I hope to have her write a note soon with her thoughts as well.

On the positive side, the program gave my daughter a place to stay and something to do each week day. The host family, in this case a host person, provided my daughter with breakfast and dinner.

But, it was very expensive for what was offered. I didn't feel that the language class she attended advanced her understanding of the German language very much.

One incident really upset us. My daughter was told that she could purchase a student metro pass, since she was going to school with CCI. But, on one of her tram routes, an inspector boarded and told her that that school did not qualify her to have that ticket. She had to pay a fine and purchase a new ticket.

The person she stayed with did not bring my daughter into her family life. The experience was more of a boarding house or hostel then anything else.

The best part of all though was getting my daughter to stay in Berlin for a month. She loves the city and it now feels like her second home. I suspect she will be back there before long.
posted by GregWithLime at 8:42 PM on June 25, 2009

My daughter has now written a review of her experience that I am pasting below. Hope this information is useful to someone in the future. Post a comment with your experiences if you try this or something similar!

I started out with e-mailing CCI. The first lady who communicated with me about my different options with them was a volunteer. Once I had chosen an option of staying for four weeks in Berlin with a language school, she redirected me with someone else. This other lady wasn't as helpful and I felt she was often away from her computer with not as quick with responses. She told me to send in a form which I put down general information and attached a letter about myself. Along with payment. I received information about my host mother about two weeks before I was to leave to Berlin. She didn’t have an e-mail address. Only a house address and a phone number. I sent her a letter more about me and talking about the aspects I had learned about her. Family, pets, and age were given to me about her. I hadn’t received anything back, so the day before I was to leave, I called her and let her know what time I would be arriving in the airport at. She seemed nice and spoke to me in English since I was a bit worried about understanding her in German on the phone. From the airport station, I had to figure out what trains to take to get into town along with how to get to her home from there. CCI didn’t provide directions to her home which I wish they had. My host mother was hosting another student for four weeks who was to be there for two more weeks. On the first day when I arrived finding her house was a bit difficult, and having her come to the door was even more difficult. I spent about 15 minutes outside trying to knock loudly since there was no doorbell and walking around the house making sure she wasn’t outside. I was say hello really loud, but she finally came downstairs and heard my persistent knocks. She showed me my room which was about the size of a walk-in closet, the bathroom, and where I was to eat dinner. I wasn’t allowed to do anything in the kitchen, she would place my breakfast and dinner for me on the dinning table. Later that night I met the other boy who was staying with my host mother, and he explained to me what time we had to leave for the school, what time the school started, and how to get to the school. I felt like this was a lot of responsibility put on someone else in my situation that should have been dealt with by the school or my host mother. Breakfast was large with many options and dinner was just as good. I am a vegetarian, and my host mother gladly created meals just for me. I don’t normally eat a lot of food, so I ended up being able to make sandwiches for lunch as well. On my first day of school, I took a test and was told about the city, all in fast German. I thought I knew a fair amount of German, but in comparison to Europeans, I knew nothing. I took a grammar test and a verbal test and was placed into a low class. I had three teachers who were really nice and spoke slowly. We also had to pay for the books that we used during school and seeing as how much I paid for this program, I felt that the workbooks should have been paid for. On my last day of school, I was given a diploma and asked to fill put a survey about my host family and the school. On the last day at my house, I had an awkward good-bye with my host mother and took the metro to my next place. I was really left alone and often came home after my host mother was already in bed with my dinner on the table. At first it was lonely since the house had no tv, computer/ internet, or news feed. The radio was turned on twice and the phone provided didn’t work well. The school however had computers and internet access. One must be prepared to be very alone and make friends while at the school. Now that the experience is over, I would recommend doing something along these lines because you are really forced to learn the language, but to be aware that it can be tough.
posted by GregWithLime at 5:31 PM on July 6, 2009

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