Round large yfu host dad paul netherlands poland 2014 exchange daughter alisja poland
Paul

Our exchange daughter Alicja was very easy going and social

We now love Alicja as if she is our real daughter

Our eldest daughter Natasha read an article about hosting with YFU in the local newspaper. After requesting more information all family members were excited to welcome an exchange student into our home.

"Alicia had to take her bike for a 30 minute trip to school daily and even though she wasn't used to biking it didn't cause any problems. When it was raining, there was always a bus as a backup. One of our daughters was the same age as Alicia and they soon became friends. We belief that hosting without children at home can work too, but it does help if the exchange student is able to your children's events in the beginning. If the exchange student is interested is similar activities that is.

Alicja ate whatever food we prepared for her; our other children are not so willing to try things.

House rules
YFU gave us clear instructions on making sure the house rules were clear to Alicia from the start and to discuss what expectations you have of one another. We feel this is really important ot start of the experience in a good way for both the host family members as the exchange student. Ofcourse Alicja is a teenager and just like with our other teenagers we sometimes disagreed, and we are not perfect parents either, but we experienced that empathy goes a long way to solve those situations together.

Christmas
Christmas was one of the highlights for Alicia. Our family always paid special attention to the holidays, especially because my wife originally comes from South Africa. There Christmas is celebrate in a big way. For Alicia it was different from what she was used to at home, but still a lot of fun. For some other exchange students Christmas was harder, because they were used to celebrate at home and their host family didn't really celebrate. We don't think that a host family should adapt to the exchange student in this aspect, since the exchange student comes to The Netherlands to learn about their culture and customs. However, discussing the way the student normally celebrates can lead to good conversations and make it a good time for everyone involved.

Overall experience
The exchange year was over way to soon. Alicia could have stayed much longer if it was up to us. Even though we already have a busy home with three other daughters. After she went home, we visites Alicia in Poland and met her parents and sister. They really spoiled us during our stay and it was a great experience to be together. With pain in our hearts we left and said goodbye to Alicja and her family.

Fourth daughter
Alicja made it so easy for us to include her as a member in our family. We love her like a daughter. We recommend everyone to become a host family for a YFU exchange student, since it is such an enriching experience for all family members. We are still in touch with Alicia and her family, social media makes it so easy for us, en we discussed keeping in touch in the long term as well. We really feel that for the rest of our lives we will have four instead of three lovely daughters."