Stikkordarkiv: #StudentExchange

My Education / Rejsespecialisten / NKF Holding

NKF Holding ApS (2010)

100% owner of the below firms:


History:

Rejsespecialisten ApS was established in 1996 and has had several names. Rejsespecialisten is registered as a travel agency and is used by MyEducation and EuroStudy International firms as their travel agency. Rejsespecialisten ApS is a subsidiary of NKF Holding ApS.

  • CVRP-nr: 1003660864 and CVR-nr: 19043231

MyEducation DK is owned by Rejsespecialisten. MyEducation DK is not registered as a separate entity in the Danish registries.

NKF Holding ApS was established in 2010 by Niels Køhler Frandsen as a holding company for his travel-related companies. NKF Holding is located in København, Denmark.

  • CVR-nr: 33035195

MyEducation – Norge AS was established in Norway in 2012 by NKF Holding ApS. Its temporary name was Inceptum 634 AS. NKF has registered as «other education not mentioned elsewhere«.

  • Org.no: 998 516 234

My Education (UK) Ltd was established in Hampshire, England by in 2013. Niels Køhler Frandsen owns, directly or indirectly, at least 75% of the shares.

  • Company number: 08603393

In 2015 EuroStudy International Aps, another Danish student exchange firm, was purchased by Rejsespecialisten. According to proff.dk, EuroStudy was established in 1995 by Karin Busk Demuth. EuroStudy is now wholly owned by Rejsespecialisten.


Reviews:

Trustpilot: MyEducation dk / EuroStudy Aps

What is a host family?

Before you leave home as an exchange student you may already have been in contact with your assigned host-family. Even if you have not, the exchange organization is supposed to have forwarded details on where the family lives, how many family members there are, their ages, contact information and host parent occupations. Included with that information are probably pictures of the family and their home. I do not know if all exchange organizations follow this guideline.

You might get told that you are going to a temporary family (see below). Other times the exchange student is told that a representative will function as host family until a permanent family is found (see below).

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Source unknown

 

What is a host family?

A host family is a family that has promised to allow you to live with them for the duration of your exchange student stay. There isn’t really a template for what a host family should look like:

  • Mom, dad (with or without children)
  • Mom (with or without children)
  • Dad (with or without children)
  • Dad, dad (with or without children)
  • Mom, mom (with or without children)
  • Old, youngish, young

The host-parents should be at least 25 years old. Any younger than that and they might well end up being a friend and not a boundary maker. I do not think there is an upper age limit. However:

  • The host family should be without mental or physical issues that would keep them from being able to fulfil their role as care-taker.
  • The host family should be in a financial situation that enables them to take in another family member.
  • The host family should be able to accept that the exchange student might have different theological, political and cultural views than themselves (goes both ways).

Temporary host family

A temporary host family is one that is supposed to last very few weeks until the exchange organization has found a permanent host family. If the exchange student is lucky, the temporary family willingly becomes a permanent host family (24%). But in most cases this is not so. If a temporary host family is pressured into becoming a permanent one, it is fairly easy to see how problems might arise. (USIA study)

Finding a host family that is willing to take a student in for ten months is not a simple task. Rotary has solved this by having the exchange student stay with several host families (approx. 3).

Representative as host family

At times the only option available to a new exchange student is being placed with their representative until a family is found. Sometimes the representative becomes the permanent host family. (CSFES finds this highly questionable) Some exchange organizations will then assign you a separate representative to avoid conflict of interest. Sadly, if a conflict occurs, the host country organization will usually side with the representative.

Host family as guardian

Your host family is your guardian. They are supposed to keep you safe during your stay, make sure you do your homework, give you chores (just like other family members), feed you, set boundaries and make you part of their family unit.

Does the host family get paid?

Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

Some exchange organizations are volunteer organizations. In such firms the host family does not get paid no matter where you live. Other exchange organizations pay or do not pay their host family depending on what type of exchange program you choose.

Different countries have different rules. In the US there are both variations based on the type of visa the exchange student has (J-1 vs F-1). In Norway there isn’t a regulation about this, but many of the exchange organizations do not pay their host families.

Host family requirements

Most (probably all) exchange organizations have a set of rules they are supposed to follow regarding how they pick who gets to be a host family. The requirements I have seen, set by the firms whose brochures I have looked at, state that they do background checks of the host family. These include:

  • References from extended family.
  • References from acquaintances.
  • Home visitations.
  • Candidate interview.
  • Financial status check.

What is an exchange organization?

Once you have decided to go for the exchange student life, you need to decide if you should travel with an exchange organization. Some countries, like Japan, give you no choice. No exchange organization = no visa. I don’t know what guidelines most other countries have about this.

What is an exchange organization

Basically, an exchange organization is a travel agency. They organize your plane tickets, the place you stay and the activities you will participate in (i.e. school). The receiving exchange organization is supposed to function as a guardian. Ideally you will be placed in a safe area with a safe host family that, at least, pass the same requirements a foster home would. Schooling should be at an approved (by authorities) institution.

Types of exchange organizations?

There are three kinds of exchange organizations. Volunteer organizations like Rotary, AFS and YFU base their work on volunteers. Usually, there is a small regional office with permanent staff who earn average salaries.

Non-profit organizations can be a misleading term. Usually the term has to do with saving taxes. If the exchange organization has holding companies in links above it, you aren’t really looking at a non-profit organization but rather a company that utilizes what tax loop-holes there are. Exchange organizations like EF Education, Aspect Foundation, Explorius/Educatius/CETUSA, Forte International Exchange Association/Astar Education, Heltberg International Education, and Speak/Aspect High School all have holding companies controlling them.

Some of the exchange organization have their own travel agencies and insurance agencies.  Erika Travel Insurance belongs to EF Education. Rejsespecialisten is a sister-company to My Education.

For-profit exchange organizations are open about being in the business of making money. I do not know if their representatives get paid more than the non-profit ones (price per student placed) do. In the US, for-profit firms fall into the F-1 student exchange programs category.

Communication between various parties

In a student exchange situation there are several parties involved. You have parents of the exchange student, the exchange student, exchange organization in the home country, main office in host-country, host-country local representative, host-country school, host-family.

When you sign a contract with your exchange organization at home, you usually authorize them to function as a go-between for you and the partner organization. Most contracts forbid contact between parents and partner organization. In addition, the exchange companies seldom want you to have contact with your child’s school. Nor do they encourage contact with the host-family.

Your child is supposed to communicate with their local representative who is then supposed to bring the matter up the chain until the information eventually reaches the parents. The host-family is supposed to use the same route. However, our experience has been that what the parents are told is not always what the partner organization was told by either student, school or host-parent. We encourage contact between parents and their child, parents and the host parents and in crisis between parents and the school. We also encourage you to keep all contacts documented (emails, sms, recordings of phone calls etc.). Just in case.

Home country exchange organization

Most exchange organizations use the following procedure:

  • After the potential exchange student fills out application 1, the exchange organization makes its choice. Rotary require better grades than the rest.
  • Organization, student and her/his family meet.
  • Application part 2 is filled in by parents and student and signed by them.
  • All necessary documentation is collected by the company and forwarded to their partner organization in the host country.
  • Have information meeting.
  • Be a point of contact between biological parents and partner.

The Partner organization in the host country is supposed to

  • Train leaders and representatives.
  • Match representative and exchange student.
  • Match exchange student and host family.
  • Make sure ALL necessary documentation regarding host-family, representative and school has been forwarded to the proper authorities.
  • Make travel arrangements to and from host country.
  • Some hold orientations camps.
  • Be responsible for all host-country trips.
  • «Be there» for the student 24/7.
  • Support school leadership.
  • Ensure the student is safe during emergencies.
  • Return students who break the laws of the host country.

Weird things Norwegians do

A look at some of the things you as an incoming exchange student might experience in your host-family and with friends.

The text can be found in Norwegian in VG article «Nordmenns mange rariteter«

A Frog in the Fjord

Telyshysteri fin (2) Illustration: Kristine Lauvrak

Disclaimer: “Weird” does not mean “negative”, some of these strange things are very positive and should be exported to the rest of the world 🙂

1. You are telling a great story to your Norwegian friend/colleague. He or she will start making strange sounds: aspirations with the mouth as if they have the beginning of asthma. No panick, this just illustrate how interested they are in your story, and it means “yes, I agree, carry on with your story”. Nothing to be disturbed about.

2. As soon as Autumn comes, Norwegians enter some kind of telys hysteria, lighting them everywhere at any occasion. It is what I call the “endless need for koselig”, which I define as an inner summer that Norwegians create for themselves to feel like it’s warm all year long no matter the circumstances. (see How to make things Koselig)

3. Most Norwegians won’t…

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US Regulations

§ Sec. 62. 25 Secondary school students.
(f) Student enrollment.
(2) Under no circumstance may a sponsor facilitate the entry into the United States of an exchange student for whom a written school placement has not been secured.

USA: Uten utvekslingsorganisasjon

State Department regler for vertsfamilierDet går fint an å reise til USA uten å måtte bruke utvekslingsorganisasjonene som mellomledd, men det krever noe mer egeninnsats. I tillegg kan det bli vanskelig å få støtte fra Lånekassen.

For å komme seg avgårde må man (fra ambassadens egen side):

«The U.S. Embassy regularly receives inquiries from Norwegian families asking how their child may attend secondary (high) school in the United States without working through a formal exchange organization. In these cases, the family usually wants their child to stay with family or friends. These students have to make their own arrangements, consistent with U.S. law, and travel to the U.S. on F-1 (student) visas.

How to find a high school in the United States:
Any student wishing to study in the United States must be enrolled in a school which is authorized to accept international students. These schools, whether public or private, are approved through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Once approved, the schools are allowed to issue Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) numbers to prospective students and are able to issue an “I-20” form, which is required when applying for a student visa. You can find a list of approved schools through the following link to the DHS website. (Se f.eks. denne skolen som selv etterlyser vertsfamilier til utvekslingselevene sine.)

How to finance a high school year in the United States:
Please keep in mind that studying in the United States is not free of charge for international students, whether you are enrolled in a public or private high school. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover all expenses while in the United States, including tuition. Applicants attending a public high school must repay the school system for the full, unsubsidized, per capita cost of providing the education. Additionally, those attending a public high school may only do so for up to 12 months.

The Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen) only gives financial support if a Norwegian student goes on a high school exchange during the second year (Vg2) of Norwegian high school AND travels through one of Lånekassen’s 11 approved organizations.

How to get the year abroad approved by your Norwegian high school:
You should contact your Norwegian high school counselor for more information on getting your school year in the United States preapproved for academic credit.

The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (Utdanningsdirektoratet) has more information about high school exchange under point 3.2.2.9 “Godkjenning av opplæring i utlandet tilsvarende Vg1 og/eller Vg2 I Norge” (page 19).

How to apply for a student visa to the United States:

  • Once accepted, your school will send you an I-20 form. This original, signed I-20 form is required for your visa interview and when you enter the United States on a student visa. The I-20 form will have a SEVIS number in the top-right corner of the form which is your individual number in the student database.
  • Review the I-20 form and make sure your name has been spelled correctly. The Norwegian special characters are translated as follows: Æ=AE, Ø=OE and Å=AA. A spelling error in your form might delay your application by up to two weeks. Please contact your school immediately to have them update the SEVIS database if you find an error.
  • Pay the SEVIS fee online here.
  • Fill out the DS-160 application form found here. After you have completed the application, please be certain to electronically submit it to the Embassy in Oslo. Then print out the confirmation page with your picture and barcode on it.
  • Book your interview appointment with the Embassy. You will need the barcode from your DS-160 confirmation page to do it.
  • Remember to bring all required items as failure to do so may result in having to book a new appointment.
  • Please see our website for a current checklist of required documents and what to expect at the interview.

The F-1 academic student program is a non-immigrant visa category intended for use by nonresident aliens whose primary purpose for visiting the United States is to study full-time at an approved institution. Key features of the F-1 visa exchange are as follows: » The visa is regulated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). » The school is the responsible party in the United States, accountable to DHS. » The visa cannot be used for elementary (K-8) or adult training exchanges (see the discussion of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, below). » The student must pay tuition to the public host school.

Upon receiving approval from DHS, a school is authorized to issue certificates of eligibility to students for use in securing a visa and admission to the United States. Form I-20A-B is the certificate of eligibility for F-1 students. The Designated School Official, who is obliged to ensure that the school complies with DHS regulations, may issue it. Schools that are authorized to issue I-20 forms are required to register on the SEVIS system.

Congress enacted limitations on certain foreign students planning to study in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools. The «Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996,» which took effect on November 30, 1996, places the following restrictions on students seeking F-1 visas who wish to study at public secondary schools. The student (or his or her sponsor) is required to reimburse the public secondary school for the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of education for the intended period of study. Proof that such tuition has been paid must be evidenced on the I-20A-B application form for the visa. Waivers are not allowed. This law also limits school attendance to a maximum of twelve months for secondary students under F-1 visas. Overseas advisors should know that this law additionally prohibits attendance in public elementary schools, K-8, or publicly funded adult education programs by any individuals coming under F-1 status. These restrictions do not apply to students who come to the United States under a J-1 visa, nor do they apply to private schools. Violating the law or failure to reimburse the school district can lead to a student being barred from the United States for five years.

F-1 non-immigrant students must maintain a full course load while in the United States. They must follow a specific transfer procedure if they change schools. They are eligible for certain types of employment, provided the Designated School Official or DHS grants permission before the employment begins. The F-1 foreign student’s obligations under U.S. immigration regulations are to: » provide evidence that the unsubsidized cost of tuition for any academic study in the United States is paid in order to obtain their visa, » have sufficient financial resources for the anticipated stay in the United States, » have a residence abroad to return to upon completion of the program in the United States, and » always maintain lawful immigration status while in the United States by keeping a valid passport, not working without authorization, and leaving the United States upon expiration of the visit or securing an extension of permission to stay if needed.»

«Thinking of hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?»

Exchange student to Germany
Arrival of the first Indian student to Dresden. He was to study electrical engineering in Dresden Technical University | 19 February 1951
Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst – Zentralbild (Bild 183)

I happened upon an excellent article on hosting exchange students on the blog of Life Lessons of a Military Wife. In it she discusses the various issues one should consider if you are wondering if you want to host a teen-ager in your home. (Re-printed with her permission: Copyright © Life Lessons of a Military Wife):

Pick a student with similar interests to your own. Don’t pick a student who is heavy into outdoor sports, thinking your bookworm family will changes its ways…you won’t and both of you will be unhappy in the end. Read the student letters and bios VERY carefully and look for clues of immaturity, dominance, chauvenism and possible (more noticeable and problematic) character flaws too. If there is something you absolutely don’t want to deal with, then pick another student.

Realize that a boy student is easier than a girl student, so if this is your first experience, I would certainly pick a boy. We all know teenagers, right? I am a girl myself, so I make no excuses in saying that a teenage girl is much more difficult to deal with than a boy…I’ve seen it myself and been told it over and over again by other parents.

You don’t necessarily have to have teenage children already in your household to host. We have two young boys and thought it would be nice for them to have a big brother. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way we would’ve liked. We have a very gregarious young man who loves to play soccer and be with his friends, so he rarely interacts with our boys. Be prepared for something like this happening and make up your mind ahead of time if this will disappoint you or not before you choose someone to share your life. Our program had another family with three young adopted children from China. They hosted a young man from China, hoping he could share his culture and his general being with those kids. Well, those kids were so unruly, and this boy was a professional piano player who tended to like things calm and orderly. It was not a good mix.

When they first arrive, don’t have a huge party. Your student will be exhausted. Some take many travel days to get here, depending on where they are coming from. Plus, they have to deal with time changes, cultural changes and just the change of being in a new place with absolute strangers and no familiar family in sight! Integrate them slowly. When you first meet them, ask them if they are hungry, take care of those needs, then go home and let them sleep. Let them take a few days to get adjusted. There will be time for a party next weekend (or whenever), as well as showing them around. Don’t give them too much to process the first few days.

Have basic toiletries on hand. Many don’t travel with much stuff and may be too embarrassed initially to say they need something. We always have a basket of toiletries and toothbrushes in our guest bathroom for all guests. Let them know they can help themselves. No need for them to ask!

Do show them where you keep basic stuff. Go ahead and give them a quick tour around the house after they arrive, just to show them the basics. Show them where the snacks are and where to put their dirty laundry. Tell them when mealtimes are. Later, let them empty the dishwasher and the trashcan…what better way to learn where everything goes? Make sure you tell them they are not a guest but part of the family, and then treat them accordingly.

Realize you may get some cultural resistance. Many of these kids come from cultures where moms do all the housework or dads say what goes. Let them know how you do things here. Remind them they are here on an exchange, and that to be a part of your family, they will do things the way you do things. Don’t listen to the excuse that I can’t make my bed because that is lady’s work…uhh uhhh…not here it ain’t!

Your water, electric and whatever bill will be higher. Most teenagers LOVE to shower. Our boy takes two or three long showers a day. Water in Florida is expensive. Just be sure to budget for these extra expenses or be prepared to teach them about conservation.

Your food bill will be higher. Teenagers eat….a lot. I also had to shop more often and buy snacks and things like that…teenagers like to eat pizzas and snack stuff rather than regular meals, although we do try to sit down as a family at least a few days a week and required this of our student too.

Figure out ahead of time how you will deal with situations and money. We decided beforehand, that whatever we spent money on with our kids, we spent it on our student too. If we went out to eat, to an amusement park, shopped for Christmas gifts, our student was treated as one of our children. For extra expenses, such as when he goes out with his friends on his own (which is almost all the time…kids love to go out to eat and spend money) and clothing and other knick knacks he may want to buy, those were on his own dime, and he understood that ahead of time.

Have a rules talk. Within days of our student arriving, we sat down with him, in fact, we wrote it all down in very plain English, what was expected of him. He ended up posting it on his bulletin board in his room. It listed his curfews (schoolnights and weekends), no drinking, driving, drugs and that kind of thing and what his chores and responsibilities would be. Our student cleans his bathroom every other week (he rotates that with our kids) and gets $20 for mowing our huge lawn. Otherwise, we ask him to keep his room clean and pick up around the house when he sees something out of place. Of course, we constantly have to remind him of many of these things, which I believe are just part of normal teenage behavior.

Have them realize there will be consequences when (not if) they screw up. You are standing in for the student’s parents. Our student’s mom actually told him if he screws up, he will be on the first plane back home. They have to learn responsibility. If they come in late from curfew, then take something away from them, whether it’s internet, TV or going out (a big one for them). Most teenagers LOVE to sleep in and hey, if they miss their ride to school, let them sweat it out and figure it out themselves. Our student had to go flying through our subdivision on my son’s little scooter one morning, trying to catch his last chance for a ride. He made it, but next time, he got up when his alarm rang. These kids have to learn to be adults, and if you baby them, make their school lunch, make their bed for them or wake them up in the morning, they will never learn (remember this with your own kids too). We also had the “sex talk”…I wanted him to make sure I knew what the deal was and if there was any hanky panky that gets him or a girl in trouble, he was going to be on the first plane home, no questions asked.

Try to have some kind of contact with their parents. My student’s parents were worried about having their son in someone else’s care. I regularly send photos and email, plus I know I will get his mom’s support when things go wrong. She has stood behind me 100% so far, and we wouldn’t have had this rapport without this back and forth contact. Can’t speak their language? Then use the Altavista’s Babelfish Translator to try to get your point across. Email makes that easy. Even if the parents don’t have email at home, in many countries, they can figure a way to access email elsewhere.

You may end up being a bus driver. We were lucky in that our student made tons of friends and always had a ride somewhere. We do know other students who didn’t have friends who drove and the host parents had to drive them everywhere..not so difficult if your student ends up being a homebody or has only a few friends, but if they join a sport, such as ours did, with multiple practices a week, it might’ve been close to impossible for me, taking into consideration my husband’s deployments and our own kids’ schedules.

Schedule some family activities. I made sure to schedule some events for our family, including our student. Give them a head’s up well ahead of time to make sure they understand they will be attending the event. Many students think it is almost all fun and games when they come here. Ours doesn’t want to do anything without his friends, so we sometimes have to rein him in and remind him that he is here on an exchange and not on a party bus. Let them know their world revolves around your family and not them.

Have a set-up for your student’s privacy. Kids at this age should have some sort of privacy. Don’t dig through their stuff and if you can, give them a room they can call their own. This is important. Our student knows that his room is his and his alone and that I don’t even go in there other than to peek in to make sure it is somewhat in order and all the four walls are still standing.

Decide what you want to do about the cellphone situation. It seems like every teenager has a cellphone these days. Our student says kids text message all day long, even when they are standing right next to each other. We couldn’t add our student to our cellphone plan, because we didn’t want to incur any more time in our contract due to our upcoming move. Plus, we would’ve had to uptick our minutes and add text messaging, which we don’t have. So, our student had his mom send his phone from home, and we set it up as a prepaid phone. He ended up going through his minutes like water, especially with all the incoming text messages he had to pay for too, so he eventually started leaving it at home when he went to school…a good and smart decision if you ask me in the first place. He has learned to be thrifty and to delay gratification with the thing.

No TV or computer/internet in the teen’s room. When we went over the rules, we set down the internet rules as well. If you don’t want to trust them and are a little paranoid, you can always get one of those software monitoring programs on your computer and set them up with their own user id (not as administrator). Keep the computer and TV in the common areas of your house (this is a must for your kids too). You want them to know you are monitoring what they are doing, and that you are keeping track of the time they spend online. I think ours learned the wonders of My Space over here, although I think he was already a messaging wizard before he came here. I have heard it can be a real problem keeping them off the internet for hours, as many want that contact with home (and their friends), and this behavior is discouraged in order for this exchange to work as it should.

Insist that they call their parents and family at least every other week. This frequency seems to work out best. Once a week is too often and longer than two weeks wrecks havoc on the poor parents. We have lowcost long distance/international phone service and our host family was also able to find a deal at two cents a minute. You can’t beat that! Here’s a reliable service, Pingo that works great.  You can even share it with others!

Query them about their likes and dislikes, and try to make them feel at home. Most will get homesick at some point. Ours had no problem at the beginning, it is at the end of his stay that he is starting to feel down and apprehensive about going back. Give them a chance to tell you their wants and needs. Buy snacks and toiletries and things for around the house they might need. We made up a basket of goodies and gadgets, such as a pocketknife, pen flashlight, dictionary, Post It Notes, a popular novel and office and desk items our student might have needed for school. We included a nice note and put this on his desk in his room before his arrival. The kids also made a welcome home sign for his bedroom door. Before I go to the grocery store or wherever, I do let him know I am going beforehand and leave my shopping list where he can add things to it.

Encourage your student to answer the home phone. Ours used to run the other way when it rang. I finally had to tell him to answer it. Now that he has his confidence up, he has no problem answering it. Try to get them in situations where they can get their confidence going in the right direction. You can start with a non-threatening thing such as the phone..it’s not face-to-face contact, and if they totally screw up, they can still run and find you and give you the phone. The more they do something, the better they’ll get at it and the more they’ll get out of the exchange experience.

Do take the tax deduction when you do your taxes. Right now, you can take a $50 tax deduction per month for hosting a student. In actuality, you spend much more, but that’s what the law says right now. (My note: This is the rule in the US – I do not know if there are similar rules in other countries)

Along those same lines, don’t host a student if you are short on money. Hosting a student costs at least a few hundred extra dollars per month. If you can’t spare that, then don’t host. Don’t put a student in a situation where you are always pinching pennies. You will also tend to resent that unknowing student, and that’s just not fair to them. Most of these exchange programs cost many THOUSANDS of dollars for the student and his family. Many scrimp and save for years or have to ask a rich uncle to help them out. This is a big thing for them. Don’t blow it for them, and be prepared to be somewhat generous. I think many host parents don’t realize the costs involved going into this (both in time and money), so I just wanted to get that out there so you can mull it over!