What if my partner . . .

Cultural differences

Most exchanges are very successful, and cultural differences are successfully negotiated. However, there may be times when something your partner says or does makes you uncomfortable. The following are just a few examples of some issues that you might encounter with your partner. Other situations may arise, but these examples will give you some ideas on how to approach cultural differences. In all cases, it is important to be sensitive to your partner. If you are having problems with your partner which you can't resolve on your own, please don't hesitate to contact the TandemPlus program coordinators.

Remember

Every exchange is different, just as every person is different. You will get out of your partnership what you put into it. With enough effort, a partnership in TandemPlus can bloom into a wonderful friendship. Many who join the program achieve greatly increased conversation and language skills, and many report having come out of it with a wider perspective and understanding of our world and its many, many varying cultures.

Enjoy the journey, be kind, and practice, practice, practice.

My partner asks me questions that make me uncomfortable.

All cultures have topics which are difficult to discuss, or which are taboo within that culture. Some Americans, for example, might be uncomfortable talking about religion or sexuality. People from other cultures may be uncomfortable with other topics. Please be sensitive to issues your partner is uncomfortable with or does not want to discuss. If you are the one who is being made uncomfortable, make sure you explain to your partner that you would rather not discuss the topic.

My partner keeps canceling our meetings.

Sometimes problems come up and people need to cancel meetings. In Minnesota, for example, bad weather can prevent people from traveling. However, such cancellations should be rare. If you have to cancel, please be respectful and give your partner as much advance notice as possible.

My partner takes all of our meeting time for his/her language practice.

My partner takes all of our meeting time for his/her language practice and I don't get a chance to practice my language. Tandem language learning is intended to benefit both partners. Some people are shy, and some cultures do not value the "aggressiveness" that Americans seem to value. It is your responsibility to be sure that you are NOT dominating your meeting time, just as it is your responsibility to speak up if your partner is dominating. You can say something like, "You're doing well with your language. Can we focus on my language for a while?" Your partner might not realize that he/she is dominating.

My partner seems to want more than friendship.

TANDEM is not Tinder! It is intended to be a conversation exchange program, not a dating service. You and your partner will decide how your relationship develops, but no one has any obligation to his or her partner beyond meeting to exchange language/culture practice. If this becomes an issue, contact the program coordinator.