Host Family Time & Visiting Alcatraz

A reflection from a host family from the weekend

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I asked some of our families to share stories or comments about how their Austrian guest is faring. One family shared, “we live in a modest Palo Alto home, and we don’t watch television. On Sunday morning, we were on our way to a “Waffles and Wii” breakfast gathering at a friend’s home in Hillsborough. Their home is the opposite of ours: 8,500 square feet, last listed at many millions, and because the husband works for Nintendo (Wii) they have an enormous entertainment room dedicated just to video games.

As we were telling Jona about our friends and their extravagant lifestyle, we joked that perhaps he had gotten a bum deal by being assigned to us instead of them. He quipped: “But do they have Zachary?” (our three-year old, who loves him already). It is true that the Peninsula has much diversity both in culture and economic status. It’s nice to know that the kids do see beyond that and are not caring or comparing how nice their host house is or how big the bedroom, but rather on the people inhabiting the house.

Day one of school visits

Our host students enjoyed bringing their new Austrian friends to school today. Some commented that they were surprised how the kids here actually really paid attention to what what happening in class, even one of the teachers. One student mentioned that one thing she saw in the American system is that a disabled/handicapped student has the option to attend public school, and that she like that. Some favorite classes were History, Orchestra, and English. Not high on the ratings were Chemistry, Japanese or Chinese.

Living Skills had a substitute teacher and it was rather “interesting” to see the kids take advantage of this situation. In America, substitute teachers are brought in from the community – they are not regular teachers. On Friday, students are looking forward to an International Lunch to benefit the Japanese Tsunami victims and receiving some souvenirs from Paly that remain after the big football victory this year – Paly won the state championship and had a big parade in their honor.

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Tour of Alcatraz and Pier 39

Today was a very busy day including many fun and interesting adventures. After arriving by train, we hopped on a cable car and took a tour through the center of San Francisco. After arriving at the top of the “most crooked street in America” (Lombard Street), we walked to the famous Cannery Row/Fisherman’s Wharf. The students ventured through an arcade museum before arriving at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.

This tour was undoubtedly a highlight of the trip thus far. We learned about the “infamous” inhabitants of the island of Alcatraz, the jailbreak, escaped convicts, and life in prison. The students were very well behaved after that (just kidding)! The audio tour was very descriptive and made it feel like we were actually there during the time the prison was open. The students were in agreement that they would not want to spend even one night there.

It rained off and on, but mostly only before our tour. We walked back down the famous Embarcadero Blvd. to the train station arriving home tired but happy after a very fun day.

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Return to the U.S. this summer with ECI!

Want more opportunities to improve your English and explore California? Then enroll in one of our summer immersion programs for European students. You’ll find all the details on the Edu-Culture International, Europe website.

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