Exchange Student Reality by exchange student Sara Rosetti
I’m Sara, an Italian student who will stay in the U.S for 10 months. I could write for a long time about why I choose to be an exchange student and why I think it’s a beautiful experience, but, ever since I found out who my host family was, I’ve wondered why an American family would host a complete stranger in their house for a whole year. This question came with me up to here. In these days I had the chance to ask some questions to two host families and now I know why hosting an exchange student is as cool as being one.
The first thing they said to explain why they have chosen to host is to learn about a new culture and to make a new experience. Secondly, hosting can teach a lot of things and it gives the possibility to share american culture and what’s most important for the family.
A host family can learn about a different culture, a different way of living; it can discover new music, new food and new places to visit. Also, having someone who sees America from another point of view helps in being more open-minded, being critic and not take for granted everything. It can teach how to grow as a person.
On the other hand, the exchange student will learn from the family american tradition, holidays and patriotism. He will live as an american and it’s up to the family to make this experience as real as possible.
Hosting is also a challenge: the family will have a complete stranger from a foreign country living with them. According to the people interviewed, that’s the most difficult thing, but they get used to it pretty quickly. After a week the student will be already part of the family and the embarrassing days will be over.
The language could be a problem, at least in the first months. If the student isn’t very good in English, communication might be difficult. The effort will be worth it when the student will begin to make progress and speak better.
Both the family I interviewed have had previous experience with other exchange students and they’re still in touch with them. Now, they can say they have a friend from the other side of the ocean. Cool, isn’t it?
Also, they both said that after this year they will host another student, maybe not right after, but it’s definitely something they would like to experience again.
“If my kids would want to do an exchange year, I would want a host family happy to host and open its house for them. That’s why I’m hosting”
The year with the exchange student is full of beautiful moments such as picking him up at the airport, cooking french crȇpes, visiting places (new for him and familiar for the family), making homemade pizza and much more. Seeing the student’s excitement about every new thing is fulfilling.
Becoming a host family wasn’t difficult, they just had to talk to the local coordinator, the person in charge of finding the host families. They had to write a presentation and then she gave them 10 application of exchange students and they had to choose the one that they thought would fit more in their family.
They would recommend it to everyone. All types of family can host. Big families with 7 kids, families with kids at college, single parents, people without kids, grandparents. Everyone that wants to open his heart to a foreign person can do it and should do it.
“I think it’s a really good program and it helps the american family as well as the exchange student, it teaches our kids about different cultures. It is very rewarding”