8 reasons why you should host an exchange student

Tuesday, July 26

Growing up, my parents hosted a slew of exchange students throughout the years! We had guys from Sweden, girls from Germany, and more recently our adorable Aline from Switzerland who came to live with us for a year (and she truly became family!).

Kevin and I have been wanting to host an exchange student, and we thought we'd test the waters by hosting 2 adorable junior high girls from China for 10 days. We just dropped them off yesterday, and man, it was a fun week!  It was hilarious, heart-warming, and exhausting all wrapped up in one experience- but i'm so glad we did it!

It got me thinking about why it's an experience everyone should try at some point in their life.
So here are 7 reasons why YOU should host an exchange student:

1) You learn about a new culture!: You don't even have to leave your home to experience and learn about a country and it's culture. Hosting an exchange student gives you the opportunity to ask questions and learn about traditions and customs through the eyes of a native. While playing games with the girls each day (let me tell you, they LOVED their games...never played Sequence that much in my life! ha), Kevin and I asked the girls questions about the 1 child policy in China, about what typical foods they ate each day, and the special occasions and holidays they celebrated.

2) You get to try new foods!: Almost all of our exchange students cooked a traditional meal for us at some point or another. I've eaten home-made Swedish meatballs from my cousins, and this past week ate home-made Chinese dumplings. Food is such an integral part of learning about someone's heritage and upbringing, and it's fun to experience that part of culture through your 5 senses!!

3) You always have a place to stay in their country!: We've visited almost all our exchange students through the years, most recently Aline and her family in Switzerland this past Christmas. Every time we visit Sweden, we are well taken care of! If you show hospitality to an exchange student, I can guarantee their family will be delighted to show hospitality to you when you come visit. It's pretty awesome!

4) You tend to explore your own backyard in greater detail!: When an exchange student comes to live with you, chances are you'll want to show them the "best" parts of your surrounding city and region. Whenever my parents hosted exchange students, we took a lot of fun trips to San Francisco, Disneyland and the beach. It became a great excuse to do something fun!

5) You get paid!: While not everyone cares about the money, it certainly  was helpful for us as new homeowners (who are juggling a mortgage) to have a little extra financial help! Some programs pay upwards of $800 a month to house and cook dinner for the student! If you already cook dinner for your family anyway, then it will be no problem to add one more person to the mix! {fyi- not all organizations pay, so if this is important to you, just make sure to check that our in the FAQ's}

6) You get to share YOUR culture!: So many people around the world are anxious to learn more about American culture. They often think what they see in the movies is so "American" and you get the great opportunity to share with them what the real American culture really looks like, haha! We had so much fun making the girls foods we eat on a daily basis (like tacos and pasta, etc), and showing them an American high school, etc. As a Christian, it's a great way to share your faith and your life journey:) Also it's fun to share traditions and holidays we celebrate. Often, they are fascinated by holidays that are distinctly American like Thanksgiving and 4th of July!

7) You come away with hilarious stories!: Hosting isn't always bells and roses, and sometimes things get lost in translation. But you have to admit, those are the best kinds of stories! This past week, our 2 little junior higher wanted to make us Chinese dumplings. They told us it would take 1 hour, and instead it took almost 4 {let's just say we were starving and a little stressed out wondering what the heck they were doing to our kitchen...there was flour everywhere! haha}! They finally admitted to us they had never made dumplings, and the four of us laughed so hard. Surprisingly, they turned out really delicious and we still chuckle when we think of that night, even though there were a few mishaps!

8) You build amazing friendships!: It's true, having someone live with you causes your relationships to deepen to a level that might never have happened otherwise. Our sweet Aline from Switzerland literally became like a sister to my siblings and I. She has flown out for all our weddings, and my whole family attended her wedding in Holland 3 years ago. It is such a gift to have this type of relationship with someone across the world!

If you are interested, just do a basic google search for organizations that work in your area! Or, start asking around town to see if anyone your friend's know hosts students. In our case, we heard of a women who hosted students, got her phone number and found out what organization she went through! If you love to travel, then I think you would also love to host exchange students!!

ps- we leave for Tahiti on Thursday!! woo hoo! I'm going to be hi-jacking Inspiration Cruises IG so make sure you follow along @inspirationcruises I would SO love to see your sweet comments and support:)

 {their t-shirts cracked me up! It was a bunch of English words strewn together that made absolutely NO sense, hahahah} 

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