Hosting a foreign exchange student is a truly life changing experience. In just a few months one person can have such an impact on you! Hosting a student is a learning experience, you learn a lot about them, and their home country, and in turn they learn a lot about you, and you get to watch them experience your country. If you’re in high school, or have a kid in high school, and a spare room, then I would highly recommend considering hosting a student!
At the age of 19, my family told me I’d be getting another sibling. Not a baby, no but a foreign exchange student!
My family had never hosted a foreign exchange student before, I was already in my second year of college and my youngest sister was already a senior in her (hopefully) last semester of high school, so hosting a foreign exchange student at this point in time just seemed… Weird.
But, my sister, Erin, had a friend who was an exchange student from Italy, and her living arrangements weren’t working out and she was looking for a new host family. And after a short week of discussing, Bianca was set to move into my family’s home.
I was off at College when Bianca first came to live with my family, so I really didn’t get the chance to meet her at first but I was already getting pictures from Erin, and hearing stories about how amazing and sweet she was.
Her birthday was right around the first weekend I was able to come home and meet her. And she was everything my family had said! We went out to dinner to celebrate her birthday, and we hung out all weekend. I’m usually a pretty introverted person, but things just seemed to click with Bianca!
We were all fast friends! Well “friends” isn’t even the correct word, we considered Bianca part of our family, right away, she was my sister. I went home almost every weekend after that, to visit Bianca and Erin.
We all did everything together! Erin and Bianca went to prom together (and I was there to photograph them of course). We introduced Bianca to our extended family, we told Bianca everything, and we even tried to teach her how to drive at one point (using bicycles because I think there’s a rule against foreign exchange students driving?).
Everyday was like a sleepover, we’d paint each other’s nails, do face masks, and complain about our boyfriends to each other.
Bianca and Erin both graduated from High School while Bianca was staying with us, and that was so exciting! We were so proud of them both (we weren’t really sure if Erin would make it through High School..) We threw a graduation party for both of them!
It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, we knew that once Bianca was done with school, her time with us was pretty limited. She would have to leave in early June. Even though we had only known her for a few months, she was truly part of our family, and we already knew that saying goodbye to her would be hard.
In late May we took her on our annual family lake trip, to celebrate our dad’s birthday, and then in early June we celebrated my birthday with her.
It was all bittersweet though. Just four days after my birthday we were throwing a goodbye party for Bianca, and a day after that we were driving her to the airport.
On June 12th, 2017 We said goodbye to Bianca. There were definitely some tears shed! But we all promised to see each other again someday!
In just a few short months Bianca had completely changed our lives. We learned so much from her. We gave and received so much love as well! It was truly an amazing experience, to just gain a new family member! We miss her everyday, but we wouldn’t trade a moment with her for the world!