What you leave behind is what you will appreciate later…

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I lost my phone at the airport, but apparently, everything else turned out great. My year as an exchange student was a blast.

Having a host-family is something you will remember forever. From  the day you meet them nervously at the airport, to the day you leave, they are by your side.

In the Minneapolis airport, arriving for my year in Winona

You acquire lots of knowledge during the journey and you learn the values that they have.

Being with them helps you in understanding the culture better and makes you less shy, and more independent sometimes.

My experience with a host family has been amazing, I have learned more than I could ever imagine. I have also met lost of people along the way, as with a host family you can meet their friends, acquaintances and they can teach about their country and you can teach them about yours.

They make you feel welcome and that makes you happy, and I think that makes them happy too.

Language acquisition is great with a host family, even though some people know English perfectly, you can learn much more such as idioms and words you will not hear in a conversation with friends that can make you prepared for the real world acquiring more vocabulary.

You learn to adapt to their schedules no matter what, that makes you a more resilient person and helps you develop as it makes you have more patience and be more collaborative with others.

You become more independent as well, you are not surrounded by friends or family so you sometimes need to make your own choices and overcome your problems alone. As you need to fit in their schedules you learn to use your time wisely, because you never know when you are going to leave with them.

I have also traveled a lot with them and discovered Minnesota differently than you could do it with a group of friends. When you go places they tell you their anecdotes and memories and they also enrich you with information Google might not know. They help you in difficult times, encouraging you to keep up.

A picture from Goodview Days, one of the first parades I went to in the United States.

Being away for 10 months without seeing my friends and my family has not been hard, but that is because of my host family. You have fun with them so time flies, right now we are on finals week of our last semester, and I could tell you that it feels like two days ago when I arrived.

I think emotions, when you are far away from home, are much stronger. My parents have told me:

“This is going to be a great experience for your development as a person”.

When I call my friends back home some say to me, they say “You have grown so much personally.”

You have grown so much (personally)”


This experience makes you change I don’t think I had this same personality when I arrived the United States, or maybe but it made me flourish and grow as a person. It made me be more open to people, I became more patient explaining my culture (It’s not Mexican- Fatima agrees).  

When you arrive by yourself at the airport is really exciting, you don’t know your host family but you know they are going to change you forever. It may be scary for some people but trust me, they are willing to make you feel comfortable and welcome not the opposite.

Friends at Cotter have been a great support!

In a way being in a host family helps you in being in the real world and managing situations of people.

“I loved having you with me,”my host sister Madeline Mohan said.

I think is both a great experience for the student coming and the family hosting. To get to know each other, because even though there might not be any commonalities you learn a lot of each other.

It might be intimidating or a challenge to live far away from your house for almost 10 months but you get a lot from it, experiences, you build relationships with people from other countries and have lifelong friendships.

If I look back to the first day I was scared, but people at Cotter were really nice and willing to help. The orientation week helped me a lot in what was coming ahead. Now I am prepared academically as well as personally.

Looking ahead, I think I am going to appreciate this opportunity, much more than I am appreciating it right now.

I remember talking to a teacher that said to me; “the memories that you will make will be priceless, you can tell this to your grandchildren.”

Leaving behind everything can be hard, like throwing away something that has been with you forever, but really it will always be with you.


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