I haven't had the opportunity to update many of you on the latest adventures with my exchange student, so allow me to do so...
As we most recently celebrated the holidays, I will admit, I was nervous about her feelings of nostalgia for home and time she could have spent with family and friends (even though she was not allowed to return to her homeland). Nonetheless, she's coped with her time away and her adventures in America with great success. I know it isn't particularly easy, and she does miss her family, but her bravery is admirable to anyone. As I always remind myself: "Everything is an opportunity" and that's exactly how she has seen life the past 5 months.
People have already asked me: Would I do it again? Would I host another exchange student? The answer is simply: No. (Sorry AFS.)
I've loved our time together thus far, and I don't doubt that the next few months we'll have more great adventures together (Florida, here we come!), but I got a good one. It just so happened that I got the best exchange student a single, suburban woman could ask for. So would I do it again? No, because I wouldn't want to tarnish the beautiful memories I've had with my only exchange student.
The best part of this whole experience (and I know this even though we're only half way through!) is the friend that I've found. The Swede and I are great friends, and though our family roles are strange (mother/daughter, sister/sister, aunt/niece), I care deeply for her.
Back when we tried to witness the rare eclipse of the Supermoon in September, the weather wouldn't cooperate with us and we missed it. This kind of space event won't happen again until the year 2033. The Swede and I joked about what our lives would be like in 2033: my oldest child would be preparing for college, while I'm juggling the school, work, and sports schedules of my family and she would be returning from her latest adventures traveling the world and living internationally. It was then that I realized how much will change in the next 17 years of our lives. Yet, our conversation bantered about what our kids would call one another and how The Swede would have to explain that I was their un-elderly Host Grandma.
In that moment then, I also realized that this is my life forever more: Regardless of where we'll be in or where we'll go, I have made a lifelong friend. And just like any other parent, I'll love her wherever she is.