Our Students from Tunisia

Our Students from Tunisia

Family Life

In Tunisia, most households consist of parents and their children. Rarely do grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins live in the same house unless the family lives in a rural area. Families in Tunisia tend to split the household responsibilities along gender lines where most mothers are more responsible for the household and fathers are more responsible financially. Fathers usually have the authority in most occasions, but mothers do intervene if necessary. Families typically eat their meals together and consider this valuable family time.

Teen Life: Siblings freely share clothes with each other and rarely ask permission of one another. In Tunisia, teenagers are expected to interact respectfully with their parents at all times. However, it is fine to be informal with their siblings. Teenagers in Tunisia usually meet at school or through common activities, as well as in their neighborhoods. But online acquaintances are becoming more and more popular. It is common for students to lend money to each other.

Responsibilities: Once a child leaves the household they are expected to take responsibility for themselves, until then, however, a child is largely dependent upon their parents. It is not typical for families to have maids. Usually, the girls are more helpful around the house and the boys less so. Tunisian males rarely cook, but females do. Students typically receive pocket money for food and fun from their parents, but don’t necessarily budget.

Parental Involvement: Parents in Tunisia have no worries regarding internet use as they don’t know much about the internet and technology. They rarely monitor their teenagers. Parents check their children’s school results as they arrive in the mail, it is not through direct contact with the school. Parents will usually respect their children’s personal interests and individual time. Females, however, may be slightly more restricted in their movement in the evening times, or because they may be required to be accompanied by a relative to social or individual activities.

Pets: Tunisian families rarely keep pets indoors, and pets in Tunisia are treated like pets. However, this will really depend on whether or not the student grew up with pets.

School

Classes: Students remain in one classroom throughout the day and teachers come in to teach different subjects. In Tunisia students are evaluated on daily homework, class participation, and periodic written exams. Students in Tunisia do not have the option to study subjects at different levels of difficulty and are not allowed to choose their school subjects.

School Relationships: The relationship between students and teachers in Tunisia is formal. The students show respect to teachers by calling them professor/teacher first or last name, by abiding by the teacher’s rules in class and by doing the work assigned to them.

Extracurricular Activities: Opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities are limited at school although the concept does exist. Students usually go to private sports clubs or public youth centers. Tunisian parents are typically not involved in their children’s extracurricular activities.

School Rules and Attire: Tunisian students can have their phones with them at school and use them as long as they are not seen inside the classroom. In Tunisian schools girls wear blue school aprons, not uniforms. Boys do not have uniforms. The dress code allows clothing that is no higher than the knee and at least half sleeve-shirts.

Returning from Exchange: Upon return to their country, Tunisian students often face difficulties with French and Arabic languages as they may have missed a year of material in those courses.

Personal Interactions

Mixed Gender Socializing: Socializing is more common in groups. At school in particular, socializing one-on-one is not as common. With regards to mixed gender socializing in the U.S., girls might feel awkward about it at first, but boys will likely adjust quickly as they are generally a bit more out-going than girls. Personal space between people of the same gender is often close.

Communication Styles: The cultural norm is that it is unacceptable to show negative emotions in public or in front of the family, however, many teenagers still show their emotions. They may do so more with their peers than with their family, but it does happen at home too. In Tunisian culture, silence can be a means of communicating negative feelings they may be experiencing. Teens may not talk with their parents about important subjects as they may be shy to do so.

Eye Contact: Eye contact is important as a way to demonstrate respect, but Tunisian teens may by shy with new people

Food and Culture

Religion: Many Tunisians practice their religion at home with family, but they do not necessarily attend services with the community. Ramadan is the month where family sits together for dinner, and wakes up at night for a light snack. For Eid al-Fitr children buy new clothes, visit family and go somewhere for fun.

Holidays: Prophet’s Anniversary, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha are predominate holidays in Tunisia. The anniversary of the Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina is the beginning of the new Islamic calendar, Hijri year. The dates of these holidays vary from year to year by about 10 days as they are based on the Hijri calendar. Most of the Tunisian holidays are celebrated as family gatherings. The students will miss the family gatherings and the meals in addition to the spirit of the holiday as the whole country will be celebrating. 

Guest Culture: Usually in Tunisia, we offer food or drink to guest three times as in the Tunisian culture guests do not accept food or drink offer the first time they get asked. If a guest declines the first time, the host will keep asking.

Lunch and Diets: Portions in Tunisia are not as large as in the U.S. Eating leftover meals is a common practice. Usually, students do not pack their lunches and buy hot lunches.

Personal Hygiene

In Tunisia, people generally shower every two days on average but that varies from one person to another. Underwear is supposed to be changed every day, but other clothes can be worn two days in a row. If the clothes smell, then they are considered unclean. If they do not, such as a jacket or jeans, they are not considered unclean. In Tunisia, students will put on house clothes when they return home when they know that they’re staying in the house.

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