We have had two great months with our exchange students. We were warned that their emotions may have a cyclical nature. These cycles combined with being away from home combined with a birthday away from their family seems to have them moving into a slightly less social zone.
They still cook for us on a voluntary basis. They still will play some games if homework is not too heavy. And, they are still very courteous and polite. Both my wife and I are/have sensing their need for a little more space. Their normal habit after diner is to go up to their homework room (previously known as the man cave, but due to college, the men are no longer interested in frequenting their previously claimed domicile). My wife has diligently worked to have the school make “accommodations” to keep them from having to do double homework by translating from English prior to doing the actual homework. One of our students has had a wide variety of issues with her credit card and getting money off of it. (This has included forgotten PINs, working at some locations and not at others [it does have one of those new chips], and the most recent problem has been a possible case of fraud on her card) We have tried to be flexible with their needs, but we are just feeling they are clinging a little too tightly to each other and the relationship with their “roomie” rather than the family relationships.
In a past life, we did foster care. Kids in those circumstance were in a very confused state. They were “homesick” for their parent(s), but they realized they were clean and fed with us. They liked the opportunities we had for them, but I believe they also resented those same things because their relative/family/parent was not able to provide them those things. Unfortunately, foster kids often did not have the means to deal with their anger in very constructive ways. This provides challenges far more difficult than dealing with our homesick exchange students.
Homesickness (I think) comes when the “honeymoon” and the newness wears off. As the host family, we can recharge a little when the exchange students “cling” to each other and maintain their solitude. (As much as we enjoy them, they still have changed the family dynamics.) Regardless, we will continue on this journey together. We both (our family and the exchange students) have lots to offer each other. We have trips planned, birthdays to celebrate, and meals to share together. And, as our 10 month adventure continues together, we become more and more convinced that although “near” family can be good, family-family is best!