It takes a lot of courage to leave all that’s familiar to you and stay with another family in a foreign country. You might talk with the host family on Skype and exchange endless emails, but you never know how it will turn out. I’ve heard some horror stories about girls who thought they’d clicked with their host family during the correspondence phase, but were bitterly disappointed when it came to actually living with the family. Fortunately for me, it has worked out well so far.
My relationship with my host family is an open and honest one. I have a schedule of what’s expected of me but they have also made it clear that I need to have loads of fun. My working days are Mondays to Fridays, 20 hours per week. I don’t have to wake up early because the kids are old enough to get themselves ready and walk to school. I’m thankful for that because I’m not a morning person at all. My tasks include doing the laundry , loading the dishwasher, a bit of ironing, housework once a week, preparing dinner with the family and just being with the kids.
Although it’s been a wonderful experience, I have faced some challenges
- The first one was the weather. I arrived in the middle of winter, having come from a bright and sunny Thailand. It was of course a wonderful experience to see snow but in the beginning, I just wanted to be indoors and sleep. But with the correct winter clothing and some encouragement from my host family, I was able to brave the cold and explore.
- I also experienced culture shock, but that is a story for another post.
- Another thing was in the beginning, I felt the kids were merely being polite and not honest about certain things. Also, I tried too hard to make them like me which just exhausted me. Eventually I learned to relax and let the relationship develop naturally.
- Lastly, as a person who’s terrible at budgeting, I’ve had to be extra careful with my pocket money, especially because Sweden is such an expensive country to live in.
Fortunately, the positives outweigh the challenges.
- Before coming to Sweden I was terrible cook but now, I am a much better cook because I’ve learned a lot from the family.
- I’ve enjoyed the wonderful company of the family, especially during mealtimes. They are wonderful storytellers and there’s never a dull moment with them.
- We’ve gone on some wonderful excursions together and they’ve been my private tour guides. Also, all the trips that we’ve taken have been paid for by them.
- I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth and my worldview has been stretched to new horizons.
- I had the opportunity to go to a language course to learn Swedish, which was a wonderful experience. We had the most amazing teacher and group of international students, some of whom have become close friends.
- On weekends, I am free to do what I like. I have explored Sweden and met some wonderful people.