The Exchange Experience: a Host Mother’s View


I’m starting this Blog (be patient, I’m a beginner) to document our Life With Lara, our German Foreign Exchange Student. I hope others will learn from our experience as we learn along the way as well. The focus is from a Mother’s point of view, although I’m sure I will be including mentions from my husband, Terry, and children, Travis and Brittany.

Welcome to your American Home!

Lara has been with our family for a little more than 48 hours and already there is a bond. From the moment we learned we would be a Host family… just 10 days before she arrived…there has been a renewed excitement in our house. For those who know us… it may be difficult to imagine any more excitement than is already present in the Schreiner home on a regular basis!

The thought of caring for another woman’s child who is half way around the world from her home and family is very humbling.  I am Lara’s guardian, her sense of security, her “Mother” while she is here. And on top of that, while she is a teenager experiencing all the things teenagers experience. I am honored to be here for her and to serve her family in this position.

She was exhausted when she arrived late Saturday night… 2-1/2 hours late… so we visited a little and let her get some rest. On Sunday, she was already settling in well with the 4 of us she will be living with.  She brought us gifts, including a scrapbook about her, her family, her hometown, her school, her hobbies. This is the most special gift to cherish because it is created by her for us and made by hand. She also brought us a German Cookbook and a Visitor’s Guide to her hometown. She brought Travis a German game, kind of like the American version of “Trouble”, she brought Brittany earring and a n ankle bracelet and a stuffed animal that looks like one of her 3 Guinea Pigs at home named Sally. We quickly were learning that Lara was going to be a blessing in our lives.

Later on Sunday she met the rest of the family on Sunday…. our 3 adult children plus a new daughter-in-law and future son-in-law.  I warned her… when all 9 of us get together… it can get a little loud and crazy! She saw that when everyone seemed to be talking at once yet we still knew what everyone else was saying. It is somewhat of an “art” in this home! And she seemed to love it, giggling afterwards when we talked about it!

On Monday, we registered her for classes at the High School. I felt like a new mother registering my kindergartner for school Everything was so new… although I have one child who graduated from High School and one who is a Sophomore with Lara. She was able to choose most of her classes, with the exception of being required to take English and US History. The rest of the classes can be Electives so she chose Math, along with Interior Design, Digital Photo, Dance and Culinary.

On Monday night, we had a family meeting around the kitchen table… sharing our rules of the house and expectations as a family member…and she shared with us. The conversation was open and fun and caring… with giggles along the way from both sides.

I look forward to an amazing school year with a new “daughter”… another “sister” for our kids… another teenager who, although she has cultural differences, is still a teenager!

About schreinerrealty

I'm a Realtor, Property Manager ad Owner of a Real Estate Brokerage, Schreiner Realty. I'm a Mother of 2, stepmother of 3, and now a Host Mother of a German Exchange Student. I am an avid volunteer in our community, involved in networking groups including Women's Council of Realtors and Women of Faith in Business. I spent 16-years in TV News as a Producer/Anchor/Reporter/Newsroom Manager and still participate in free-lance Producing Projects.

7 responses »

  1. It must be something about German foreign exchange students. Jana became an instant member of our family when my parents took her in 3 years ago. She has been such a blessing for all of us. Although she lived with my parents and should have been “sister”, she is so close in age to Alyssa, my niece Makayla and their friends I became “Auntie”. It was very difficult on everyone when we had to let her return to her natural family. It’s hard to think of a time when she wasn’t a part of our family. We all look forward to her yearly visit and are sad all over again when she has to return to Berlin. Thank goodness for SKYPE!

  2. It`s so amusing to read your new edition of “Lifewithlara”. My tears roll down, not out of sadness but with joy. Oh my god, i sent yesterday a new letter with German-sweets to Terry (Birthday). When he dosn`t eat, let him know that i sent it inexperience. How hot is it in October?
    Me and all my friends are waiting for the latest edition.
    Thank you for this very nice information.
    You are a wonderful mother,stepmother und hostmother!
    Ich liebe euch alle!

  3. Pingback: The Final Chapter-A Host Mother’s Thoughts « lifewithlara

  4. Pingback: Back in America 385 Days Later | lifewithlara

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