An Introduction to New Jersey for new AFSers
IMPORTANT NOTICE – VACCINATION BEFORE ARRIVAL
All students must have the Meningitis (Meningococcal) vaccine before starting school. The AFS insurance does not cover the cost of immunizations and the student is strongly advised to be immunized before arrival in the USA.
BEFORE YOU START:
Watch this video for arriving students
(Directed and edited by Katja Bye)
Congratulations. You are coming to the coolest State in the USA. Here is why.
New Jersey is one of the Middle Atlantic States. Its northern neighbor is New York. To the west and south it is bordered by Pennsylvania and Delaware, and on the east, the Atlantic Ocean.
Depending on where you live in New Jersey, you may be an hour or two from New York City or Philadelphia, both great places to visit. With the mountains in the north and the beaches on its eastern shore, New Jersey has many scenic areas.
There are usually about 30 AFS students in New Jersey. There will be a mix of boys and girls from many different countries, and you will get to know them well. You will form global friendships that will last a lifetime!
We have orientation weekends in October, January and May, where all New Jersey AFSers get together. In addition, there will be other opportunities to get together.
When you arrive you will be taken by bus to an overnight facility. The next morningyou will receive a brief orientation and meet your family. In the first few days, they will introduce you to your new home and your new community. They understand that you may be a little nervous and find it hard to speak English at first, but they are there to help you. They are very excited about hosting you!
In the first month, we will have a beach or pool party for all the AFSers and their families. This is a good opportunity to exchange phone numbers and email addresses with the other AFSers, and to get to know the AFS volunteers.
Documents your school will want
Make sure you have updated medical transcript when you arrive.
(Note: The tuberculosis test that American schools require is the Mantoux, not the Tine test.) In addition, NJ high schools have a special requirement: Hepatitis B shots. While it is a series of three shots, you only need the first shot to be admitted. (You can have Shot 2 and Shot 3 later in the year in the USA.) You WILL NOT be admitted without Shot 1.
Bring your most recent grades with you. Most schools allow students to choose some of the subjects they will study, and most offer art and music.
What to bring with you
During the year, you will have many opportunities to share your culture with your host family, your friends and others in the community. You are an ambassador for AFS and your country! We ask you to prepare for this by bringing some of the following items:
– national costume (if you have one) or small dolls in costume
– postcards showing points of interest near where you live
– a book with descriptions of your country
– a flag, with an explanation of its colors and symbols
– recipes for simple foods you can prepare
– small samples of traditional crafts or products from your country
– MOST IMPORTANT: bring a Power Point or similar photo presentation representing you, where you live and things you like to do.
Climate and clothing
New Jersey has cold winters and hot summers. The climate varies depending on which part of the state you live in, but all areas do see at least some snow in the winter. The average temperature in January is 36 degrees F (2.2 degrees C). In the summer, it can be hot and humid; especially in August, when the temperature is often in the mid-80sF (28-30C). You will need warm clothing – sweaters, a winter jacket and boots. You can buy them here or have your family mail these to you, as it doesn’t get cold until November. We suggest you bring half as much as you think you’ll need, as you’ll probably want to see how kids dress here. We have lots of stores that offer good quality clothing at discount prices. Girls should have at least one dress or skirt for special occasions, and boys should bring a pair of good pants and a jacket. Students wear casual clothing to public high schools. Girls often wear pants or jeans to school, and shorts are common for both boys and girls when it is warm. Bring a bathing suit because there will be many opportunities for swimming when you first arrive.
What to expect
The key to a successful year is your ability to fit into a new family. Things will not be exactly the way they are at home. You have to be willing to be flexible. You will have many wonderful opportunities, as well as some challenging experiences. You will discover so much about yourself by trying things you have never done before!
As much as you can, come with an open mind about this experience. Don’t expect your AFS year to be like that of a prior AFSer you have spoken to. Your experience will be unique! And the AFS-NJ volunteers are here to help you with your adjustment to your family, school and community. We hope you will feel at home in New Jersey; not only for this year, but for a lifetime!