Would you open your home to a stranger? Maybe two strangers?

Way back in 1993 I spent a year as an Au Pair in New York – to say that experience changed me is a bit of an understatement. Adventures were to be had, friendships formed, money earned, horizons broadened, mind blown. My visa was only for a year but back then it was easy to country hop and then get back into the US without fear of being caught because I had overstayed my welcome. A few years later I came back to the UK and started my life as a grown up.

The opportunity soon arose for me to take in European students for a few weeks in the summer months, to feed them, give them a comfy bed and the occasional ride to whichever college they were studying at. It didn’t always go to plan though. More often than not we had a fabulous time with students – showing them our town and teaching them English slang words and worse, but then we had one that STANK the house out, nothing I could do could make that girl get in the shower. It got so bad I had to sneak into her room, steal all of clothes and wash them before she got back from school. It didn’t help, the material was infused with stink. We continued to host for another couple of years and then we did the only thing we could do, we bought a hotel.

International students

Fast forward to 2013, I have my own children now, 9 & 5, we no longer own a hotel and I thought it would be a good time to open our home again to give our kids the experience of meeting and living with people from other cultures. During the last placement one of the other host mums ( I really do dislike that term, it reminds me of Alien every time I hear it) mentioned that she hosts all year round and had I thought about it? Within 10 days I was picking up Malin, from Norway and Diana, from Italy – two 17 year old girls ready to start their adventure in England not forgetting, of course, that their main reason for the visit was to study.

Hosting International Students

Yes it’s weird, but only for the first couple of weeks. Getting to know each others habits, likes, dislikes etc. Do they get my humour/sarcasm? Do my kids like them? Do they like my kids? Will they be happy here? Do they come from a rich family with sprawling mansions to our 1 bathroom, 1 toilet home? Do they like my cooking or are they just being polite?

Hosting International Students

I try to remember that I’m NOT their Mum and as such have given them as much independence as possible. This is the first year of them becoming ¬†adults so I let them do their own laundry, I never go in their room to make beds or empty bins, they make their own way to school, they make their own lunches etc. ¬†That being said I am responsible for them and insist that I know their whereabouts at all times. I hope I have been someone they can confide in, chat to, laugh at (they find my choice of TV shows amusing) and I hope that after a year (Ok, 9 months) of living with this, not so normal, family that they will remember us with fondness.

Hosting International Students

This time next week they’ll be leaving us, the kids are counting down until they go. They asked me if we’ll ever see them again. I’m sure we will – they ARE a part of this family now and will be welcome for the rest of their lives. We still don’t want to do the official goodbye though. We’ll miss them dreadfully.

It’s not for everyone, opening your home up, but if you can get past that it’s so very rewarding for all concerned. Life is for living and learning right?

EF (Education First) are looking for host families from all over the UK. If you would like to know more please click the link below and that will send you to their website.

[stextbox id=”tmk-box”]If you’re interested in hosting click here![/stextbox]

Think big and reach for the stars,

Vix

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