In honor of the 6 B's presentations this past weekend, I thought I'd post how I have been putting them to use. The 6 B's are Rotary's alternative to the 4 D's which are no drinking, driving, dating, or drugs. Unfortunately, just knowing what not to do isn't enough for a successful exchange. These examples are specific to my exchange, but if anyone from Rotary happens to read this, I hope you find it helpful!
Be first: varies from place to place, but being the first to talk is often necessary. If you're lucky, people will come right up and introduce themselves. Some people, however, will stare from a distance until A) they determine they like you or B) you approach them first. Even if you trip over your words it's great practice and people will receive you well. Also, I've learned how to ask "what are you doing this weekend" and "can I come?" When you respond "yes" to questions you will get more "yes"s to your questions as well. I was afraid I had too much English in my schedule so I asked my history in English teacher if I could do my presentations/tests in French. I don't think I've ever been more afraid to speak in public than presenting my views on globalization in French in front of 30 native French speakers (without notes I might add). Definitely worth it to see my language improvement.
Be curious: ASK WHAT COMES TO MIND. I told my host parents I was curious as to why they set the table with plates then would carry the plates back to the kitchen to put food on them. My host mom responded with a huge hug and yelled "She is curious!" The reason is because they like the table to look nice. Your questions reflect what is different in your country and your family/friends want to hear those kinds of things! Cultural differences are great icebreakers.
Be on purpose: everything you do, do it entirely. My focus right now is language so I watch everything in French, read in French, copy words out of a dictionary, etc. It's especially hard for english speaking students because it feels like everyone else speaks english too. It would be easy to get by without speaking your new language but you need to try not to. Can't think of any more specific things for this.
Be grateful: say thank you thank you thank you! I often think of how much my sponsor, host club, friends, and family do for me. My host mom gets me something for my blazer at each place we go to. My club helped pay for euro tour. My French club paid for me to go to Disney. My friends will give me French exercises and edit my papers. My friend Matti sent me a great care package. My mom and dad are there when I need them and let me have this amazing experience in the first place. Don't forget these things. You can be grateful by buying gifts, writing letters/emails, just tell them you're grateful somehow! I saw a previous exchange student that would send printed out pictures with letters written on them back to his host families and exchange friends. Simple but so meaningful.
Be of service: this doesn't have to be big! I notice at events the rotary students are the first to offer to set up/clean up/anything to help. My club doesn't have service projects but I have heard some of the other 6690 students do. I try to be of service to my host family and in school. I have 3 classes that include english where I will help the teacher (don't try to overstep though many english teachers don't like feeling that they're not the best at the language and will be mean/act like American English is inferior to British English) I think I've edited more essays already than all of last year.
Be here now: I'm in a foreign country! A year can feel so long but also so short in retrospect. I don't want to regret spending all my time in France thinking about the U.S. When I find my heart back in the U.S. I try to find something to do here. Go into town, meet a friend for coffee or shopping, or just take a walk to enjoy the new surroundings.
Planning on editing this post as I learn more/get some examples, so check back in!