Hello, my name is Giulia, and I will be speaking about my experience as an exchange student in Adrian, Michigan. Adrian is a quiet community with around 22,000 inhabitants and therefore a very different environment to the one I was used to coming from Milan, Italy. As soon as I landed in Detroit, I was welcomed by my whole host family. Chad Mary and one of my two host sisters, Grace. I remember being nervous and excited at the same time, the journey was tiring, and as soon as I got in the car, I fell asleep. I opened my eyes as we were driving past huge cornfields under a bright blue sky.
A few minutes later, my host family pointed at a long-shaped building that would be my high school. Their house was so close to the high school, and that immediately reassured me. As we were pulling into their neighborhood, they explained that the weather in Michigan is beautifully warm and breezy during the summer. Still, it gets icy and snowy during wintertime. "That won't be an issue," they said, "We will have plenty of activities to do together". And we definitely did! A few days after I got there, Lina came too. Lina is my Norwegian sister; we were hosted together, and we are still in contact nowadays. We went to pick her up at the airport and took our first beautiful family pic (you can see it above this article).
A few weeks after school started, Lina, Grace and I were all enrolled in the same high school. Therefore we would get ready together in the morning, and then Grace would drive us to school. Chad and Mary would work most of the day during the week, but it was fun times as soon as they came home. Mary would make some excellent food for dinner while we prepped the table and took the dog out. Dinner was always a family moment. We would talk about our days and decide together what do to during weekends. As all the three of us undertook sports activities, Grace and I played basketball while Lina and Grace had soccer; therefore, weekends were often dedicated to games and matches. What I really appreciated was the support bot of our host parents showed us, it being school grades or a specific sport. Both Chad and Mary would express their interest in how we were doing at school and motivate us further if we struggled, expecting high grades and commitment. They would also show up to every one of our games, unless they were too distant, to support us and cheer us up. It was always wonderful seeing them on the bleachers or hearing their scream of incitation.
If there's one thing I learned from each of my host parents, they will definitely be determination and organization. Being a host student not only brings you more knowledge, independence and self-confidence than taking yourself on explorative journeys. Of course, six months abroad hosted by a family of (initial) strangers is a test. But it will also allow you to meet what will become a "second family" to you.