“What makes a perfectly fine family want to take in someone from another country with a different language and culture that might in the end cause total chaos?”
That was exactly what I was wondering about when I was swinging on the hammock last weekend at Leppinsee (Leppin Lake). Last weekend I went to Leppinsee for a camping trip with my host parents. It was a two hour drive. The view there was simply breathtaking, we were in the middle of nowhere. There was no reception at all so I was basically isolated from the outside world. However, es war wunderbar! I broke all my Snapchat streaks, but I feel no remorse.
We spent around three days there. I have to say it really helped improve my relationship with my host parents. After having spent two months in Germany, I am now able to understand parts and bits of the conversation, I laugh along, occasionally commented about things, it was pure happiness. I learnt about things that I thought I already knew, for example setting up a tent, because the tent I used before was totally different and smaller. We went paddling as well, and that was another opportunity to learn. However, on the third day, it started to drizzle and it lasted for the whole day, we couldn’t do anything, so my host dad decided to drive up to Stralsund to visit his parents. Sie waren sehr nett! Once I saw my host grandfather, he said “Komm hier, meine Liebe!” and gave me a hug. It was only my second time meeting him, but I felt the love and warmth. After that, we went back to the campsite and spent the evening chatting, making jokes about one another and that’s what we did for the rest of the trip.
There was a bench by the lake where people could sit and enjoy the view and also a hammock just beside my tent where I could sit and enjoy the serenity of the forest. I had a lot of free time during the trip due to the weather and the fact that there was no internet, so I spent quite some time there, it made me think and wonder however, what makes a perfectly fine family want to take in someone from another country with a different language and culture that might in the end cause total chaos.
Theoretically, it’s awesome. Being able to learn a new culture at home, having a new family member, learning a new language, widening perspectives about the world. However, if you look at it from a different perspective, it’s totally bizarre. You’ll have to pay for one more person’s use of electricity and water, you’ll have to pay attention to the exchange student to make sure he’s fitting in well, you’ll have to make sure you give equal attention and love to every child. Despite that, why do people still do it, and it’s a relatively large amount of people doing it. I don’t know, I might never find out too because I think there is simply no concrete answer for that.
Probably because some people simply see growth, love and friendship more important than material things and the trouble they have to go through. I guess it’s something like a parent taking care of a child, despite the trouble and effort, everything will be worth it when they see the child grow or like when a teacher feels proud after seeing a student develop and grow, despite the trouble they went through to teach and nurture the student. I guess it’s the chemistry and bond you forge after hosting an exchange student or probably the “wow, he’s changed so much compared to when he first arrived and I’m glad I was part of it” feeling that makes it so worthwhile and interesting.
After all this thinking, I started to reflect on myself, what can I do on my part. All I could think of is to appreciate. Appreciate the little things because it’s the little things that matters. Like a simple “how was your day?” or a pat on your back when you do something good, or even a smile. Why? Because they chose to do it, they chose to be a host family, they chose to go through the trouble to help you fulfill your exchange year dream when they could have just avoided the trouble. I am eternally grateful to my host family.
It made me realize how I have not appreciated my natural family enough as well and how I have taken them for granted. They supported me, made sure I could live a good life here and were heartbroken as well when I left. Thank you for supporting my decision, I miss everyone at home very dearly and I promise you will see a better me when I go back. Thank you father, thank you mummy, I love you! See you in 7 months time!