From excitement to homesickness to the thrill of new experiences, the exchange journey is filled with powerful emotions for both the student and the host family. Of course, nothing epitomizes the emotional impact of hosting an exchange student quite like the bittersweet experience of that student returning home. But in the case of many foreign students and host families, the end of an exchange semester or year is certainly not the end of the experience as a whole. More often than not, it\u2019s simply the beginning of a lasting connection that grows, changes and deepens over years and sometimes decades. These are just some of the many ways that cultural exchange continues after programs end. Extended Education in a Host Country Many exchange students have no plans to put away their passport after they return from their semester or year abroad. Time spent living and studying overseas is just a way to dip their toes into the cultural waters of a new country \u2014 often in preparation for diving into their college education abroad! In the case of one student from Vietnam, time spent in the United States during her teens paved the way for her admission to the University of Cincinnati. She even stayed with her original host family for her freshman and sophomore years! Simply put, time spent living abroad is a great way for students to prepare for more challenging and rigorous cultural and academic pursuits as they get older. Trans-Atlantic Facetime and Skype Dates\u00a0\u00a0 Studying abroad in the Digital Age is much different than in previous decades. While students used to be limited to pen and paper in order to communicate with people back home, students today can easily chat with their family and friends across the globe with just their phone or computer! One family that hosted an Austrian exchange student last year has already made good use of the internet to connect. \u201cLeonie has been talking to us every day since she left, plus a couple of Facetime when she felt homesick for us,\u201d host mom Chantelle said. \u201cShe is already planning to come visit us on her Christmas break!\u201d Technology like Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp make it easy to nurture bonds with students in far-away countries, especially if those bonds are particularly lasting. \u201cLeonie is like the daughter I could never have,\u201d says Chantelle. \u201cShe\u2019s on a school trip to Croatia, and she still sends pictures every day!\u201d \u201cReverse\u201d Exchange Student Trips When hosting an exchange student, host families often underestimate the incredible impact their student\u2019s culture will have on their own understanding of the world \u2014 and often find that the experience is a catalyst for their own global travels. Angelia, a two-time host mom for an Austrian and German student, spent the better part of a month in Europe visiting her former exchange students in their own countries. \u201cWe will be staying with our first student in Austria and then visiting the student who just recently left in Germany,\u201d said Angelia. \u201cOur first exchange student from Austria came for two weeks this past Christmas, and was here when our second exchange student arrived!\u201d Even years and decades later, veteran host parents like Mark \u2014 who has hosted nine exchange students from around the world \u2014 are even getting to experience major milestones alongside their former exchange students. \u201cWe went to Germany and stayed with four of our prior students, and even included a wedding,\u201d says Mark. \u201cIt never gets old. Now we even have a grand exchange baby!\u201d Full Circle \u201cExchange Family\u201d Reunions For host parents that choose to host students year after year, there\u2019s a silver lining to this boomerang effect: a whole new kind of family reunion! Carefully-timed visits back to their host country can often coincide with new exchange students arriving \u2014 and host families get to enjoy time with multiple \u201cgenerations\u201d of their exchange sons and daughters. \u201cMy first exchange student from Finland has returned multiple times, including with her sister to join our family to celebrate with our then Vietnamese exchange student,\u201d says Patsy, a veteran host mom in the United States. \u201cTalk about a Christmas morning from around the world,\u201d she continued. \u201cThey remain a piece of your family for life!\u201d Co-Parenting from Across the Globe Since so many exchange students choose to study abroad during their formative teen years, host parents often become a significant guiding force in their lives \u2014 and continue to play the role of parent or mentor even after their exchange year is up. Many host parents will attest to deep and meaningful conversations with their students even after their semester or year abroad, and often count their students as \u201cbonus\u201d children! For host mom Debbie, whose exchange student from China returned to the US for college, this is especially true. \u201cHe told us hit him after he went home, and how much it had offered him. Mentoring continued the summer prior to college as we helped him get his driver\u2019s education training, talked about internships in college, given him advice when he needed and asked for an American viewpoint,\u201d she says. \u201cIt\u2019s grown into a true parent\/child relationship,\u201d says Debbie. \u201cWe didn\u2019t expect a long-term relationship, but we have one after all!\u201d While saying goodbye to an exchange student can be heartbreaking, remember that saying goodbye at the airport is the beginning of a journey rather than the end of one. Whether you recently said goodbye to an exchange student or are considering becoming a host family, take comfort in knowing that the bonds and connections you form with a student are likely to exceed your expectations in more ways than one! We invite you to read more about hosting a foreign exchange student. If you have specific questions about hosting, check out our host family FAQ page. You can also read testimonials from our past and current host families. When you feel ready, complete our host family interest form and our area representative will get in touch with you. You can also get involved by joining our team of Area Representatives! Help match host families and exchange students and bring the world closer together, while making a supplemental income.