Questions/Comments?Contact Us

11 posts categorized "American Culture"

Congrats - A Taste of Culture Winners!

 Congratulations to Kiko from Japan, Michelle from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Leonardo from Brazil for their winning recipes & photos! Their recipes were selected from over 100 entries from students around the country representing meals from home.



Thank you to everyone who participated in the Taste of Culture recipe contest. It was so great to see all the traditional meals, outfits, and fun families times happening over delicious food. We look forward to trying some of your recipes and hearing more about your adventures on your #CIEEBestYearEver!

Catch all the photo submissions in the CIEE USA High School Class of 2015 - 2016 Facebook Group!

P.S. If you missed the chance to enter for a chance to win big this time, be on the look out for the Share the Love Valentine's Day contest launching in February!


Did you miss your chance to enter the My American Bucket List contest? Is all this talk about Thanksgiving making you hungry? Maybe even homesick for some of your favorite foods from home?

USAHS Facebook Recipe ContestFill up and cheer up by entering our A Taste of Culture annual Recipe Contest. This is your chance to feed your host family some of your favorite foods. Be on the look out for more contest details & check out last year's entries to get some inspiration!

The contest runs November 16th - December 4th - get ready for the holidays with some new swag!




Time for Fall


Welcome to fall (also known as autumn, also known as THE BEST SEASON EVER)! Depending on where you live, you might be experiencing changing leaf colors like in the photo above, chilly weather, or maybe (if you’re in the southern half of the country) weather that still feels like summer.

No matter where you are, there are some awesome things to do this season.


Fall is football season at most schools, and Homecoming is a big celebration that typically includes a big football game and a school dance. The event gets its name from the fact that high school alumni (students who used to attend the school) often “come home” to join in the celebration.

If your school has a football team, there’s a good chance a lot of your classmates are going to the Homecoming game – don’t be afraid to ask if you can join them at the game to cheer on your team!

The Homecoming dance is a chance for students to dress up and have fun – and some high schools elect a “Homecoming King and Queen” from the senior class.

Clubs and Activities

It’s the start of a new school year, so students just like you will be signing up for new clubs, activities, and sports! Take advantage of this time to try something new – your fellow American classmates will be doing the same thing.

This is a good way to get to know your classmates because while you (the international student!) are experiencing new things all the time, a club at the beginning of the year means that your American classmates are ALSO experiencing something new.

Fall Decorating

Pumpkin carving is a classic Fall activity! Ask your host family if they know of a place nearby that sells pumpkins, then buy one for each member of the family to carve. (They’re not too expensive – don’t expect to spend more than $10-$15 on a pumpkin.)

Your family might have some great pumpkin carving techniques – the website below also has some great tips!


You can also celebrate Fall by doing craft projects with fallen leaves, decorating your room or house for Halloween, going apple picking, finding a Corn Maze or a hayride, and planning your Halloween costume!

We hope you find something fun to do this season. Have a great Fall!

Congratulations Manuela - your American Bucket List won you a gopro!

Congratulations to Manuela from Spain for her winning American Bucket List and selfie! Check out all the neat things she hopes to accomplish in Maine (shout out!) this year while she is studying in the United States.

You rock, Manuela - send us pictures of your new adventures!


Check out Manuela touring around Portland on a boat with an awesome light house behind her!

The American food Manuela wants to try: pancakes - and a big BBQ too!

The American tradition Manuela  most looks forward to: an American football game

The American activity Manuela wants to try: cheerleading - Manuela doesn't have that activity at her school in Spain - she thinks it's fun & interesting! 

The American holiday Manuela most looks forward to: Christmas - because in Spain they celebrate it but it's not the same. She wants to see the lights and all the Christmas trees & spirit. 

Manuela hopes to teach her host family: how to make Spanish tortilla - The Kennedy Family told her they are so excited about trying the Spanish tradition on New Year's eve of eating grapes for each bell until midnight!

Manuela 's biggest goal at school: to make a lot of international friends - it's important for her to learn the American culture and how to work together in class, because in Spain they class system is very individual. Americans do everything as a team and that's very different and interesting to Manuela. 

The American celebrity Manuela most wants to meet: Taylor Swift! She is a BIG fan of Taylor and dreaming of her is free :) We are hoping she spends her holidays in Portland too, Manuela!


 Congratulations Manuela - we hope you have the #CIEEBestYearEver!

Congratulations Tahir - Your American Bucket List Won You a GoPro!

Congratulations to Tahir from Pakistan for his winning American Bucket List and selfie! Check out all the neat things he hopes to accomplish in Oklahoma this year while he is studying in the United States.

You rock, Tahir - send us pictures of your new adventures!


Check out Tahir on top of the highest point in Oklahoma - Mount Scott in the Wichita Mountains! 

The American food Tahir wants to try: meatballs with spaghetti

The American tradition Tahir most looks forward to: prom

The American activity Tahir wants to try: kayaking

The American holiday Tahir most looks forward to: Christmas - because he has never seen snowy trees in his life!

Tahir hopes to teach his host family: how to cook Pakistani food because his host family (The Akin's!) love his country's food

Tahir's biggest goal at school: is to be prom king - we would vote for you Tahir!

The American celebrity Tahir most wants to meet: Angelina Jolie - she has been to his country 3 times to help people during floods.

 Congratulations Tahir - we hope you have the #CIEEBestYearEver!

September Student of the Month - Meet Beomsu!

Meet the Student of the Month from South Korea!

Beomsu pic 1

Above: Beomsu spending time in the great outdoors of Alaska with his host mom


CIEE: What is your favorite part of your typical day in the U.S.?

Beomsu: It’s really hard to pick my BEST, but I can tell you 2 favorite things in my typical life.

First one is that I can organize my own time table. Of course US history, English, and math are required subjects, but another three subjects can be filled with my favorite subjects. There are so many kinds of classes available, so I filled those classes with Photography, Consumer Economics, and Table Tennis. So now, I can enjoy my school life.

And second one is the time at the end of school. In South Korea, high schools generally end at 9 or 10pm. So it’s really boring and I cannot enjoy my after school time. but here, it ends at just 2pm and after school ends, I can do many things such as after school activities at school or socializing with other people. And most of all, I can eat dinner with my family (even though they’re not my natural family.)

CIEE: What is your favorite American food?

Beomsu: I LOVE MEAT. So most of all, I love thick and juicy steak. And if it is with seafood such as shrimp or crab, I’m ready to eat it, breakfast to dinner.

And another one is Subway. In my host family’s home, we call Tuesdays “Crazy Tuesday”, becaus  it’s the busiest day of the week. So on Tuesday, we always eat dinner at Subway. And Subway’s Tuna sandwich was the best sandwich that I ever experienced.

CIEE: What has been the most surprising thing about America or your new host city?

Beomsu: Several days before I came here, I asked to my host mom about the current temperature of Alaska. And my host mom replied to tell me it is fall in Alaska. So I prepared “fall” clothes. And when I arrived at New York, It was exactly end of summer. So I simply thought it will be fall in Alaska. But after New York orientation when I arrived in Alaska, it was so COLD and my host dad was wearing yellow slim down jacket. And on the way to their home, I could see the snow on the mountain. My host parents told me that snowing on the mountain means the start of fall. It’s 6~8 degrees C in the morning right now. People wear shorts and T-shirts. Oh my days. Still, I cannot believe it.

CIEE: What have you shared about your own home country/culture since you’ve been in the U.S.?

Beomsu: I shared my home country’s food culture with another exchange student this past weekend at a potluck party. I made bulgogi, which is Korean traditional food. It’s a kind of meat which is marinated with soy sauce and various vegetables. And with that, I prepared Korean rice which is stickier than jasmine rice. And I prepared kimchi too, but I just purchased it because if I make it, it takes too much time and I have to prepare so many ingredients for it. Anyways, it was a really nice experience.

CIEE: What have you learned about yourself so far?

Beomsu: Most of all, I realized that I’m not a child anymore. For example, I can arrange transportation or take an airplane by myself. Or I have to make my own schedule at school or everywhere. This means, I have to make my own choices, and at the same time, I have responsibility for it. Of course, parents or host parents are can be my mentors. But it doesn’t mean they can plan my whole life. So I think, I have to be an adult.

Beomsu pic 2

Above: Beomsu enjoying an amusement park ride at the Alaska State Fair

My American Bucket List - CIEE High School Team Edition!


The CIEE High School Team is excited to welcome you to the United States. We have created our own Bucket List and will be working to check everything off this year!

A new American food we want to try: 

Mac & Cheese - there is a new food truck near our office!

An American high school tradition we look forward to is:

Homecoming - share your pictures with us via #CIEEBestYearEver

A new American activity we will try:

Skiing & Snowboarding - this winter is supposed to be snowy!

An American holiday we can't wait to celebrate:

HALLOWEEN - can you say (virtual) costume party?!

We want to teach our host families how to:

Be open and accepting to trying new, and maybe not-so-American foods you cook them during our Taste of Culture Recipe Contest coming up in November

Our biggest goal at school (the office!) this year is:

To gather more than 2,000 #CIEESelfies

An American celebrity we want to meet: 

Taylor Swift - because, it's Taylor Swift. 


Don't forget to enter the CIEE My American Bucket List Contest by September 25th for your chance to win a GoPro camera.

Click here to submit your Bucket List & Selfie!

Share the Love Photo Contest...Coming Soon!

If you were unable to participate in the Taste of Culture Recipe contest, here is another photo contest you can enter for Valentine’s day! In the U.S., people send each other notes, candy, and small gifts to share their love for one another around Valentine's day. Have you thought of a way to share your love with your host family yet?

Next month, you can enter the CIEE Share the Love contest to share your love for your host family with the world!

Think about what your host family means to you and how you can capture that in a photo! Next month, you will receive detailed instructions, along with a CIEE valentine in the mail, containing the items you need to enter. 

 Share the love pic

After you enter the contest on Facebook, you can encourage your friends and family to vote on your photo by “liking it.” The photos with the most votes/likes by the contest deadline will be the winners!

Taste of Culture Recipe Contest winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Taste of Culture contest. It was great to see students share some of their favorite recipes and traditions with their host families and friends here in the U.S.!

Congratulations to Jan from the Czech Republic, Prima from Thailand, and Stefano from Italy, for their winning recipes in this year’s Taste of Culture Recipe Contest! Their recipes were selected from over 50 delicious submissions by students from around the world.

  Recipe Winners pic

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our Facebook page to view additional contest photos!


Holiday Movies

It’s December, we’re getting closer and closer to Winter Break (hooray!), and sometimes the best thing to do when it’s cold outside is to relax on the couch with your host family, a bowl of popcorn, a mug of hot chocolate, and a great movie. There are a lot of fun holiday movies, and many families have a tradition to sit down together to watch their favorite holiday movies. Want some suggestions for what to watch this winter? Here are some of our favorite holiday movies!


How the Grinch Stole Christmas


This is a children’s cartoon from the 1960’s in which the Grinch, a grumpy green man, hates Christmas so much he tries to steal it from a nearby town. The story was remade in 2000 as a live-action movie, too.


A Christmas Story

  Christmas story

In this story, all Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Rider BB gun. He tries to convince his family that this is the perfect gift, and has a few adventures along the way!


It’s a Wonderful Life


This is a heartwarming Christmas movie from the 1940s about a man named George, who has hit some hard times and wonders if the world is better off without him. George is visited by his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George a world without him, and proves to George the difference he has made in his town.


A Christmas Carol


This is a story written by Charles Dickens that has been made into many different films. In this story, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who teach him to love Christmas and the people around him. There is a cartoon version, one starring Patrick Stewart, a recent re-make starring Jim Carrey, and The Muppet Christmas Carol (my personal favorite).




This movie is a comedy about one of the elves from the North Pole that goes on an adventure to New York City, and realizes that New York is very different from Santa’s workshop! He goes to some of the places that you visited during your Orientation in New York, such as the Empire State Building.


Hanukkah TV Specials


Many TV shows, including The O.C., Rugrats, Even Stevens, and Friends, have special episodes about Hannukah, a Jewish holiday that is celebrated this year from December 16th to December 24th.


The Black Candle


This is a documentary about Kwanzaa, a holiday celebrated by some people of African heritage in the US, Central and South America, and Western Africa, which this year runs from December 26th to January 1st.


When you talk to your Host Family about their favorite holiday traditions, you should also ask about their favorite holiday movies! You can share your own favorite movies and then watch them together as a family.


Happy Holidays!