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The Truth about Hosting an Exchange Student

After hosting a French student for two years in a row, I am able to confidently draw a few conclusions on my experiences. It's safe to say that hosting last year felt a lot more like an experience, and this year felt more like a chore. Maybe it's the fact that last year I hosted a girl, and I was traveling back in the spring to stay with her family, and this year it was just a one-way exchange and I hosted a boy, but I think a lot of it boils down to the difference in the students.

Hosting an exchange student that is engaged in your culture and lifestyle is a good thing. Last year, I often found myself exhausted and craving any alone time that I could get when my French student was here. She was constantly eager to go out and do something, and she was curious about every aspect of my "American" life. I think I took this for granted, because my experience this year could not have been more opposite. I hosted a boy this year, and I think his outlook on the opportunity went a lot further than the expected awkwardness of our cultural or gender difference. He simply put forth no effort in conversation and showed little manners even when it was just a simple "please" or "thank you" that seemed appropriate for the situation.

The thing about a foreign exchange is that it's supposed to be exhausting. You're supposed to feel like it's taking a lot out of you because sharing your culture with another person requires a lot more energy than living your everyday life for yourself. It's almost like you have to live everything out with the double the energy to make sure your correspondent is enjoying themselves. And this is the way it should be. This year, my exchange student would never talk to me, and I often was too frustrated by his lack of enthusiasm to try to start up a conversation myself, because he would reply with short, uninterested responses. Whenever we were at home, he would always be in his room, and whenever we were in the car, he would never talk. I tried to reach out to him, but he didn't reciprocate. And that's okay. Everyone is different. Maybe he just wasn't very open, or he felt uncomfortable. Maybe, honestly, he just didn't like me! 

Hosting an exchange student is a different experience for everyone and it's important to remember that it's an exchange because it's dependent on both of you. If a student doesn't show any enthusiasm, that doesn't make you a bad host, that's on them! But if they are excited and curious about your life, it's important to remember how incredible of an opportunity this is for them and to try to give them the fullest experience as possible. They leave soon enough and you don't ever have to see them again if you don't want to, so it's important to make the most of an exchange while it lasts.



  1. Do you get any say in the student you will be hosting? I've always been interested in taking part in an exchange program but I have absolutely no concept of how it all works!

    Carly June |

  2. My family has hosted multiple exchange students, and it is definitely up to them to make the experience! Our German student my senior year did not like me or my friends, but she enjoyed hanging out with my younger siblings!


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