Friday, June 11, 2010

Host Family Worries

The reason I started this blog was to give people the truth. I don't want to sugarcoat things, or focus on the positives or negatives. I want to give you the real deal. Even if I'm wrong about something, I want to tell you what's on my mind.

In light of that, I have a worry. I have to hope for the best, but expect the worst case possibility.

I don't have much to go on with this worry. I know that. But it still worries me, so it's my moral job to tell you.

I'm worried my host mother doesn't see me as her soon to be daughter. Both the student and the host parents are trained. I'm trained to call her mom. She's trained to tell me to do so. One thing, I asked her was what to call her. And she, in the letter, implied I'm to call her by her fake American name.

She calls her daughter, "her daughter." -Not my soon to be sister.

She may not want to impose. But it worries me. She was trained for this. If she's not wanting me to call her mom, it could only mean she sees this as more of a business transaction.

She might think she's hosting me and then in return I will teach her daughter english.

Wrong. This program is not a trade. I would love to teach Demi english but, as a family member. Not as someone who is being "paid" to do it.

I want a family.

Please don't lecture me on how stupid these things are. I can see your points. And believe me, I'm waiting hopefully to feel foolish later when I meet her, or get to know her better.

You have no idea how taxing it is to wait until you're an exchange student. XD It's horrible.

If you have been an exchange student, tell me about your host family! How did you like them?

If you're going to be, share your excitement/worries with me!

Comment below!

Update From Several Years Later:
If you are a host parent, I strongly recommend you soldier on through and think of your host child as your own the best you can, including asking and feeling comfortable with being called 'mom' or 'dad' or whatever those terms are in your country. This is one of those things that actually can really make or break the whole experience because it sets the tone of things. 

If you are a host student, I recommend you force yourself to refer to your host parents as 'mom' or 'dad' or whatever those translate as. It may feel uncomfortable however, in the end you should be aiming for making a lifelong bond that you can treasure, or at the very least, lifelong memories of the bond you created. 

If your host parent does not want you to call them 'mom' or 'dad' you can still have a great exchange! But if they do this and they also seem to not really accept you into their family as a member, your exchange simply is not going to be as great as it otherwise would be. Although, I'm sure it can still be great in its own way. 

This post was too early for me to tell, but the family I was placed into was not a great match at first and I think I was picking up on some tiny early signs. However my second family was really beyond wonderful and really did treat me as their host daughter.


  1. i'm not going to lie now she probably does see it more as a "business transaction" more than anything. but you have to realize that she really doesn't know who you are, so automatically treating you as her daughter is probably a little uncomfortable to her. i think that once you actually get there and start forming a relationship with her and the rest of the family, they'll start treating you more as a daughter than as a host student. also, she may not want to get too attached because she knows that you are only going to be with her for a relatively short amount of time at their house (is it a couple months?? how long is each homestay visit). しんぱいしないでよ ;D

  2. I was an exchange student to Switzerland 08-09, and to be honest, don't be worried about this. I didn't call any of my host parents "mom" or "dad", cause that felt weird for me. Of course they acted in a quasi-parent way, but I definitely saw the distinction between "host parents" and "real parents". Also, what do you mean by "trained"? Sure, there are guidelines, but people will do what they feel comfortable with, and part of being an exchange student is learning to adapt.

  3. @Alan:
    What program did you go through? I am doing rotary youth exchange. In my program we are strongly "encouraged" to call our host parents mom or dad or whatever you call parents in that country.

    The parents are also strongly "encouraged" to tell the students to call them such.

    It's awkward at first, but it's our belief that it brings the student and host closer together. Of course it's different for everyone.

  4. @Zack:
    How long I stay depends on a lot of things. A few months usually.

  5. @Michelle

    I also did a Rotary youth exchange. It probably varies district to district what they tell students and host families about these things, so maybe the district in Taiwan didn't tell your host mom for you to call her "mom" and her to call you "daughter". In any case, I wouldn't worry about it, what's really important is the relationship you guys have over there, in which it won't matter what names you call each other :) PS. HAVE A GREAT YEAR!! :)