Imagine moving across the world for 10 months– no family, no friends, different culture? Foreign exchange students start their American experience without the things they know and have grown up with.
Leesville has four foreign exchange students enrolled this school year. Each student is living with a host family. These families have a daughter or son also enrolled in Leesville.
Insa Ostrowski is a German exchange student who is considered a senior in the Wake County school system. Ostrowski expressed, “The school system is very different, so is the lifestyle and the people.” Ostrowski is currently living with a junior at Leesville and her family. “It’s hard to find friends in the school which makes it hard for me. I am missing my family very much, too.”
Craig Berwick, senior, hosted a foreign exchange student in his house last school year. He said, “We were with each other for around a year, and we became like family. We fought like brothers occasionally, too.” Berwick traveled to Germany with his ‘brother’ for a month to meet his family and see what his new brother lived like. Berwick said, “I would do the whole process again if I could. For the most part, everything was positive.”
Stephanie Metzger, also a German student, agreed the school system is very different in America. Metzger said, “ The people are more open-minded here in America. But I also get asked questions like ‘Do you have boys in Germany?’ or ‘Is this your first time using a computer?’ so [that is] kind of weird.” Metzger is having a good experience so far in America but finds herself missing her friends and family at home.
A big difference for Metzger are the driving and drinking limitations. “Here you can drive at 16 but drink at 21, but in Germany we drive at 18 but drink at 16,” Metzger said.
Being a host family for an exchange student is a tough job. The families must try their best to make their temporary family member feel at home and support them academically and socially. Giving your exchange student the American experience is important because that is why they traveled across the world to begin with.