Of couches and tchotchkes: pros and cons of hosting an exchange student

Exchange Student Hosting, www.manicmumbling.comAs I’ve mentioned, the term exchange student horror stories is one of the more frequent searches that brings people here. I’m still trying to figure this one out. Are you all considering hosting a student and wondering if it’s crazy? Maybe your own kid’s thinking about exchange, and you want ammunition to talk him out of it?

OR … are you creative industry types trolling for movie fodder?

Because if it’s that last one, I’ve got a great idea {call me}.

If it’s either of the former, I’ll warn you I’m biased. We’re preparing to welcome our sixth exchange student to town. Between Mike and me we’ve also been counselors to another five. Our oldest is going on exchange, and we’re actively hounding him to make good use of the tutorials we bought so he can coherently ask for directions to the bathroom once he gets to his host country later this summer.

Outside of Google searches, I’m asked every once in a while about the pros and cons of hosting exchange students. It’s hard to come up with a list. It’s kind of like quantifying the ups and downs of parenting, really. The downs of parenting are pretty straightforward. You don’t have to practice sleeping in ninety-minute spurts every night, or actively wear spit up on your shirt to know neither is especially your cup of tea.

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Tips for the outbound exchange student

exchange flagsOne recent Saturday morning I woke early, my brain spinning. Jack had announced the day before his plan to take the bus to the ski hill. He hadn’t asked for help and I hadn’t offered. I hadn’t pulled his boots, gloves, hat, goggles and helmet out of the closet, checked to make sure his ski pass was securely attached to his coat, rifled through our medicine drawer to find the motion sickness medicine I’d have to insist he take. I didn’t make sure he had some cash on him for lunch, load his skis into the truck or roshambo with his father over who would give him a ride to the bus stop an hour before dawn.

I wasn’t going to do any of it, either. I looked at the clock, fluffed my pillow and lay my head back down. If the kid wanted to go skiing, now was about the time he needed to find out whether he could manage all by himself.

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