Hosting an exchange student can be very rewarding. You learn about another culture and get to share your family traditions and American holidays. If you’re really lucky, you get to enjoy delicious food (for example, homemade tortellini and tiramisu.) Seeing your student experience the bounty of an American Thanksgiving, or walking into a Costco for the first time can be eye opening.
But the main thing to understand about hosting an exchange student is that you are welcoming a teenager into your home. And teenagers can be great – they’re smart, often quite witty, and usually a lot of fun. Teenagers can also be…challenging.
They can be moody. And stubborn. And they don’t always like to follow the rules. They think they are smarter than adults. They think they are adults. It can be quite frustrating.
We have had a few “teenager” type challenges with Linda. Luckily the organization we used, YFU, has been tremendously supportive and helpful. That makes a world of difference – for the host family as well as the student. And, that’s important. Because conflicts will arise. It’s inevitable. Having a support network, and someone to discuss issues with and help to resolve any conflicts that arise can really be key to a happy hosting experience.
The bottom line is that we are a family, and she is now a part of our family. Our family is not perfect…no family is. But we work together, laugh together, and support each other.
This week we are supporting Linda as she experiences an American high school’s homecoming. She’s ready! Today was “dynamic duo” day, and she created two awesome tshirts for her and her friend to wear!
Tomorrow is “tacky tourist” day and you can be sure I’ll be taking pictures and sharing them!
Linda arrived last week. It has been so nice to get to know her – she is a wonderful girl; kind, outgoing, funny…and very, very sweet. We all love her already. The first few days after she arrived were spent visiting the health department to get a couple of shots so that she could get the all clear to register for classes. We did that on Friday and she started school today.
Linda’s first dinner in the U. S.
The second day, Linda cooked an Italian meal for us and started giving Paige cooking lessons. I not sure what the dish was called but it was delicious! We went looking for the ingredients and had a bit of difficulty…she needed something called spek, which, well…I had no idea what that was. So I googled it and found out it’s a type of Italian pancetta. So, we improvised with regular pancetta. The lettuce was another challenge, but eventually we found something that would work. And the Parmagiano Reggiano? We had a huge hunk of that because she brought us some from Italy! 😍
Linda likes the beach. And we’ve taught her to look for shark’s teeth…
Have I mentioned how good her English is? It’s amazing. She found some books that looked interesting and has been reading them – in English! So, she clearly fits in quite well with our bookworm family.
Clay and Paige have had friends over, so we’ve had a full house – which I love.
It’s been a busy week, but a week filled with laughter and good food and friends. Linda started her new school today and Clay and Paige both start their fall semester at college soon. Until then, I’m savoring this time with the kids.
Paige is home…although her trip home wasn’t without a few hiccups along the way. The airplane had a mechanical issue in Paris and was delayed several hours. Because of the delay, she missed her connection home and had to spend the night in D. C. And didn’t get home until the next day.
But…SHE IS HOME!
She’s happy to be home, but was sad to leave Paris. She had a fabulous month!
Besides Paige catching up on her sleep and doing a lot of laundry, we’ve had a wonderful, authentic and really, really delicious Afghani meal with my refugee family (my 3 month commitment through World Relief has ended, but we continue to keep in touch.)
Clay has been busy working (nearly every day) as a kayak and stand up paddle board tour guide.
And I’m trying to finish readying Linda’s (Italian exchange student) room for her arrival next week, as well as ordering college textbooks, buying school supplies, and organizing everything for Paige’s move to the apartment in a few weeks. In just a few weeks, Paige will begin her second year of college and Clay will begin his senior year. Linda arrives in just a few days.
It’s been busy and crazy, but I’m savoring this time with my family.
A few photos from Paige’s last few days in Paris:
And at home: