For those of you who don’t know Swedish the title says “Changing Families”.
Being a Rotary youth exchange student, I have 3 different host families here in Sweden. I’ve stayed with the Petterssons from August when I arrived to the middle of January, going to the Wulfs from the middle of January to the end of March, and then I move again to the Müchlers from the beginning of April until I leave. When you switch families, you still stay in the same town, with some exceptions. I know a few people who have moved to the town next to their first one and start a new school, but that doesn’t usually happen. For me I am staying within the Gällivare community and still attending the same school even though I will technically switch towns. It seems weird I guess to a lot of people why I have to switch families and sometimes they don’t even understand at all. So thought it might be nice to make a little post explaining it.
Normally when you are an exchange student from Rotary you have 3 host families, but it ends up being anywhere from 1-4 families. I have exchange friends here in Sweden who will probably only have one host family, because Rotary can’t find any other willing families to host. I know other people who have 4 host families and will stay with each family for 3 months. Usually what happens is that you stay with your first host family the longest time. For me I have stayed half of my time here in Sweden with my first host family.
Also what happens here in Sweden at least, is that the inbound exchange students are replacing an exchange student from Sweden. So in my situation, my host sister Emma went to Australia last year, so her family had to host me for sending her on exchange. In America we don’t have to do this, I went on exchange but my family doesn’t have to host an exchange student if they don’t want to. However, in Sweden you don’t have to have a kid on exchange to host an exchange student. My next two host families are just involved in Rotary, they don’t have kids in the exchange program.
That brings me to my next topic, you don’t have to be in Rotary to host a Rotary youth exchange student. For me, it took my Rotary quite a long time to find someone to host me besides the Petterssons. I think I found out in November that it was all set in place with my next two host families. Sometimes exchange students find out who their other host families will be the month they arrive, sometimes even before they come, and sometimes day(s) before they are supposed to switch. As I said all of my families ended up having a member of Rotary in the family, but you don’t have to be in Rotary to host.
If you ever have the opportunity to host an exchange student you should definitely take it. You can teach them so much about your culture and they can teach you about theirs. You automatically have another member of the family. My host mom now was an exchange student when she was my age, and she has kept in contact with her host family the whole time after she went on exchange! Her host sister and her just went to Iceland to celebrate 30 years of being host sisters! My host family travels to America to see them and they travel to Sweden to see my host moms family. The relationships you can build with an exchange student are amazing! Obviously not everyone has the kind of relationship my host mom has had with her host family, but still the opportunity for it is there and you will build a good relationship with them while you are there. I know I will remember all of the people that have hosted me, they will always have a special place in my heart! A second family so to say.
Being an exchange student has definitely made me want to host when I get older with a family of my own!
So I guess the question to answer now is why do Rotary youth exchange student switch families? There isn’t really any definite answer. Having more than one family shows you different aspects of the culture and different family lifestyles. Maybe your first host family doesn’t celebrate a certain tradition, but maybe your next one will show it to you. It also helps your networking a lot. You are getting to meet all sorts of new people when you switch families, and you also get to see different parts of the town. It is easier financially on all the families when you switch too, because Rotary doesn’t pay host families to host exchange students, families do it because they want to.
So hopefully that clears up everything about host families. If you think I’ve forgotten something or have any other questions feel free to ask me them! I understand how it can be confusing!