What it’s like to host a high school exchange student for a second year

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Host family Matt and Abigal Linville and high school exchange student Özgü Su share their experience being a part of CHI’s Private High School program for a second year.

What it's like to host a high school exchange student for a second year 1

“We’re Matt and Abigail Linville from Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. We have had the privilege of hosting three exchange students with CHI.  

Our first two students followed the traditional exchange student path. Our third student Özgü decided to stay with us and officially graduate from high school, which required a second-year stay. So, what’s it like to host the same student twice? It’s comfortable. The anxiety and difficulties that accompany a first-year student are gone. However, there are new challenges to be faced. 

A second-year exchange student faces a more serious year. The second-year is not a fun, come find out about America year. It’s a graduating from high school, off to college, I better do my best and be prepared year. 

The angst of learning to navigate American life and a new home is not a concern. Second-year students step right back into their host families’ life. They know the drill and the expectations. The new challenges they face are related to school, grades and S.A.T. scores. So very American!

The biggest challenge for second-year students is following their first year. They go back home for summer break, and they are home for only a month or so, only to return. They are caught in limbo with one foot in their home country, and the other in America. They find themselves living in two worlds and their return to America can be coupled with depression and lack of enthusiasm. The excitement of the first year is not there (old hat), and they’ve just left their family for a second time. They feel the pressure from their families having invested a great deal in their return and education, so they worry about not doing well. 

As host parents, we consider it our job to help our students navigate their life in America—this applies to both first and second-year students. The second-year has given us more opportunities to help develop problem-solving and life skills, as well as help our students succeed in life wherever they may go. “

What it's like to host a high school exchange student for a second year 2

Hello, my name is Özgü Su, this is my second year as an exchange student. I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and I’ve been living with my host parents Matt and Abigail Linville in the small town of Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. As of May 2020, I will be a graduate of East Surry High School, and I am very excited.

My journey of becoming an exchange student began towards the end of my freshman year. I was introduced to an exchange program called NCA through a presentation given at our school. The next day, I took NCA’s test that measured students’ English skills. I found out that I was eligible to apply for the program. After learning more about the program, my parents and I thought of this as an opportunity for me to experience things most students don’t experience. 

After completing the paperwork, we waited for months before I heard about placement. Then one day, my mom woke me up yelling “North Carolina! You’re going to North Carolina!” I was surprised but excited at the same time, as I knew nothing about the state. 

The time came and I arrived in North Carolina where my host parents welcomed me. A week after getting over jet lag, my junior year began. For the first month, I tried to observe how people talked, acted, and reacted to certain things. This made me adapt much easier. For me, the first semester was harder compared to the second, since I was homesick more often. It was also harder to make friends when most people already had friends. However, when I started playing soccer, I spent more time socializing and doing activities than staying at home.

When I returned for my second year, I was welcomed by people I knew and loved. Because I didn’t have to worry about adjusting or learning how to communicate better, I was more confident in making new friends. I also knew that I had to take my grades more seriously as this was my last year of high school. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to keep my grades high and get the best SAT score I can get. 

If you have the opportunity to stay for another year in your host country, do it. You’ve already proved that you’re brave enough by finishing a whole school year far from your parents and home country. When you return, it will feel like you’re returning to your second home.”

What it's like to host a high school exchange student for a second year 3

CHI’s Private High School Program (PHSP) provides international students with the opportunity to attend exceptional U.S. private schools on an F-1 visa while living with caring American host families. Graduates from the Private High School Program have great prospects for continuing their education at top U.S. universities.

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