I changed host family 4 times, but it wasn´t all bad.

Changing host families is something that probably scares anyone going on an exchange program.

Changing family, changing place, having to re-adapt….All those annoying stuff we have to deal with.

And I think I know what I’m talking about since I’ve changed four times during my exchange year. Yes that’s quite a lot, and most of the people ask me how I did to support it and to continue my program anyway.

So let me tell you one thing: changing host family is not all bad, all dark.

My first change was probably the second worst. I was there for approximately four months when my host-sister talked to me about it. That was probably one of the hardest time I had to change because it was my first family, I was already there for four months, I had a really hard beginning in here….and they made everything they could for make me feel better, to adapt to their so different culture from mine.

So my host sister told me that her mom had health issues and that she had to go to the hospital for like more than two months and that because of that my sister would go to live at her aunt’s house. No need to say that I didn’t have the choice or that it was my fault.

So I made up my luggage, took them to school and at the end of my school day my new host family came to pick me up.

Only my new host-mother and my new host-sister were there to go home with me. I saw the difference since the beginning, my host mother that seemed to smile and joke more than my first host mother. They were so nice and seemed really happy to host me. But I didn’t feel in the right place. After the dinner I was in my room, alone, and I was crying. I wanted to go back to my first host home. I didn’t feel ready to readapt.

But I didn’t say anything and this situation lasted two days before I could really feel “at home”. I often went to walk with my host mom after dinner and talk about stuff like my boyfriend back in France and she would laugh and ask me stuff like how I met him….I really felt like I was her daughter.

The time passed, it was in winter and I didn’t have much warm clothes so gave me a really warm coat, some pullover, stuff to be warm at home because they didn’t have a heater…They even baught Christmas presents for me even though I wasn’t home the whole day (Chinese people don’t really celebrate Christmas….but they did it for me).

As you can see I really felt great in this host family. But one day that I was in my room, my host mother came in, asked my host sister to come to translate some stuff, and closed the door for speak to me. She explained to me that I had to change host family because her mother who was living with us was sick. She was afraid she wouldn’t have time to spend for me, to care of me, anymore. I started to cry, so did she. It was the first time I saw a Chinese woman cry. Chinese people are well known to hide their emotions, to “don’t lose the face”, but she did cry on the front of me, telling me how much she was sorry. She gave me presents before I left, took me to the biggest amusment park in the province and gave me a jewelry she really loved, telling me “I give it to you because I consider you as my own daughter”. I don’t think I have to tell you how sad I was to leave her. It was only less than three months that I was there but I was so close to them.

I felt really bad, I made back my luggage, went to my new home, met a new way to live. But it took me quite a while to adapt. I haven’t been close to my third host mom. She was kind of just someone who took me to her home and gave me food. I feel bad for that but it’s done. Anyway, some weeks passed and one day at school my teacher told me “Oh you’re gonna have to change family”. Just like that, I felt kind of angry to learn it that way, not because I had to change again, but because my host mother didn’t tell me for I could get ready. So my third host mom confirmed that I had to change because she would go to Germany see her son for few months.

It was my third changment but it didn’t bother me that much. All my friends were asking me how I could do that, that most of them would have gone back to their country. And at this moment I didn’t know what to tell them, I just did it.

Anyway my teachers (who were my contacts from the program) dealt really hardly with this changing host families stuff….and I ended up living at my teacher’s parent house. I can’t even tell you how weird it was to see me teacher every evening… But well, they were nice, trying to do their best, and always asking me if I had a great day, if I was hungry or stuff like that when I would get back home.


I stayed three weeks there, and I was happy to move out because even if they were really nice, I had to share my room with two relatives, I had a really small bed and didn’t have a closet. But the problem here, it was a Monday when my teacher told me “Oh, I’m sorry but you’re gonna have to find a host family, you have to move out before Sunday”. When she told me this I got really angry. I was the exchange student but I had to find my own host family within seven days? What was that? What would I do if I didn’t find anyone? But even if I was angry I had to do it, I finally found a place to live, it was actually were one of my friend were hosted aswell, her host mom agreed for take me.

So I moved out to her house, where I was supposed to stay just few weeks and then go back to my first host family.

No news came up so I started adapting myself to my new home, to my new family. And finally my program called to tell me to go back to my first host family.

I never said anything to the program about my host families issues, I never complained about anything, respected all the rules…..and they wanted me to change for the fifth time. At this point, I said no. I said that they could whatever they wanted I would rather go home, than go back where I was. It was such a hard thing for me to adapt there and then having to leave them…? I couldn’t live it twice. So after struggling a lot they finally accepted to let me where I was and they even told me I could call them if I had any trouble. So after my host mother agreed with me staying there, I spent the best of my last three months of my experience.


It’s after all of that, after all my changment that I know how I could accept to change without even complaining. And I also know how good it can be to change host family.

Changing host family, through the hard part is great because it can permit you to see more. More of the culture, of the way that people from your host country live, and you live also, in a different way. It can permit you to learn how to adapt, how to adapt to hard situations, to resolve a problem like where to live on your own.

So yeah, even if it’s hard, sad, that you don’t feel well…..changing host family is not just bad. It also gives you so much good things, and I can say that I don’t regret anything.



This guest post was written by Lucile, a French girl who spent 10 months in China. She loves arts and
traveling and hopes to help those who are going through the same things with this story.

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