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!