A look inside the experience of hosting an exchange student


Taryn Rose Laurence, Photographer

Hosting an exchange student is one of the best experiences my family and I have ever pursued. Our Italian exchange student has been one of our biggest blessings. Of course, like most normal families, we’ve had our issues. We have ups and downs like anyone else. But we’ve never had a single regret. Any problem that has risen has never been too big to be outweighed by the good we’ve had. Let me tell you a little more about it.
We decided a couple of years before that we were going to host an exchange student from somewhere around the world. When the time finally came one December, we applied for the program and began to set things in motion. Now I know December seems really early or really late to begin the process. Why the middle of a semester? Well, from December up until the June or July time frame, everything had an extremely detailed process. When we applied in December, the first step was getting my parents to pass the background check. No need to say they passed, and with flying colors. After being cleared as star citizens, we were allowed to pick our student.
We ended up deciding to host a student from Italy, a girl. We narrowed to our search to fit our likings and two girls popped up. After spending just a few minutes looking at their profiles, we made our decision. A 16-year-old Italian girl living just outside Venice. And we couldn’t wait to meet her.
One of the next major requirements was to have a house suitable for hosting a student. This was no problem at all since we had just upgraded. Another pass.
Now the third major step in this exhausting process was to get our student registered for our local school. This was the hardest part since each district only allows around 5 exchange students per year, so naturally, there was a large chance that we wouldn’t be able to secure a spot for her to attend school.
However, when the time came for new student registration in March, we were able to secure a spot enrolled at our local high school. Now it was time to turn on cruise control.
At this point, we pretty just had to wait for further instructions. Arrival date. Flight information. Full student profile. The more complicated things, because it wasn’t already complicated enough.
Once we got those last few things figured out, we finally got to meet our new Italian student at the beginning of August. Right from the start, things just started to click. She fit right in with our family and immediately connected with each one of us. Like I said earlier, we had our ups and downs. We fought like normal siblings would. And we faced problems any teenagers would. But that made the experience that much more real.
If I went back, I would make that same choice over and over again. This experience has been so good for me, my family, and my exchange student. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be blessed with.