Exchange student from Spain and her American friends dressed as tourists for homecoming week
"During homecoming week, each day we dressed up according to different themes—this was "tourist day!"

Advice for a Successful Exchange Year

The first day with my family was a little bit awkward, but my host family is so nice and they treat me like a part of their family, so I’m very, very happy to be here with them. I’m from the Basque Country in Spain, and here I have lunch earlier and have dinner at 6:00 p.m., so it is a different schedule, but after a week, I got used to it. I miss some Spanish food, but here you try different things, and if you want, you can cook some traditional dishes for your host family. They would love it! Every day, we have dinner all together and we speak about our day, tell some funny stories, and have a good time.

The best way to get involved is doing some sport like volleyball, soccer, football, or basketball. You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. If you are not a sports person, you can apply for some other school activities like robotics or other clubs. You have a lot of opportunities to make friends in class, because each class has different people, and everybody is so nice here.

Everybody is so nice and they talk with you, so don’t be shy, talk with them. They know that you are an exchange student, so they will try to help you. They want to know about your country and everything. In the PAX orientation, they help you with the adjustment and a lot of other things.

I’m glad that I met some friends before school started. I have a host sister the same age as me, so I met some of her friends first, and the volleyball tryouts and practices were two weeks before school, so that helped too. There are four other exchange students in my high school, and we are very good friends.

I’m very happy with my coordinator who comes to school once a week, and we talk about how our exchange year is going, and she asks if we have questions or problems. She organized a bonfire at her house with all her exchange students, and she is organizing some trips for us as well. My host family and I are doing some activities together, like kayaking, and some trips too. A few weeks ago, we went to the north of Michigan to see the autumn leaves, and I met my host grandparents. During spring break, we are taking another trip. They are the best host family that I could have, and I’m so happy to be here with them.

I hope that my experience and advice help other exchange students or host families.

—Enea (Spain), hosted by the Swisher family (MI)