It is amazing how eclectic families are. I know every family is different, but getting to be a part of 3 different ones in the span of a year is incredible. You may fall in love with the family and never want to leave, or you and the family may be so different that immediate removal is necessary. An exchange student never knows, but that is part of this amazing experience.
1st HOST FAMILY*
My first host family was/is wonderful. I absolutely love them. My first weekend in Turkey they took me rafting, bought me Ben & Jerrys and made me feel right at home. After the jet lag wore off and I stopped my late night eating binges/movie watching/being depressed days, I started realizing how alone I really was. My host brother was home all the time of course because school hadn't started yet, but my host parents were scarcely seen. Partially my fault, and partially theirs. Granted, I was a hermit for the first 2 weeks, but because I still had no idea what I was doing, there weren't many options.
My host mom works ALL the time. She leaves in the morning at about 9 and gets home about 10. During the six months I was there my host dad did most of the taking care of the exchange student. But even he had to work. I never really figured my host brother out. He LOVES computer games but what 13 year old boys don't? Of course there was anger at how reclusive he was and how rude he seemed to his parents but now as an outsider looking in on the family (and understanding the language) I see that he really isn't that rude. That he actually is a pretty cool kid. I'm just sad it took me so long to realize it.
Anyway, my home atmosphere was kind of like living in a hotel. I would leave when I wanted, come back when I wanted, eat when and where I wanted. I loved the freedom but after awhile I started longing for a family atmosphere that didn't start after my bed time. I never really adapted to my family's going to bed at 12 or 1 a.m. then waking up at 7 for school/work lifestyle. It just didn't take. So, I would come home from school about 5 o'clock, sit in my room if I wasn't out with friends, eat dinner with whoever was home, then go to bed. I usually made it until 10 o'clock. Then my host mom would get home and everyone would sit around the T.V. drinking tea.
I have a whole load of emotions (good and bad) towards this family, but I don't want to give the impression that they weren't incredibly helpful for me.
Two of my younger cousins, Yaprak and Nurten, were and still are 2 of the most amazing people I have ever met. Even though they are only 14, they took care of me in the first months of my exchange and on occasion still take care of me. We have created a bond of friendship/sisterhood that will be hard to break.
After my big trip around Turkey I switched families.
2nd HOST FAMILY*
Even though I was only with my second family for a week, they instantly became my favorite family. I had two younger host siblings, one was 14 and the other 8. I spoke and learned more Turkish in that one week than I had for the last 2 months. I camped out on a mattress on the floor of the 14 year olds room. And my 8 year old sister camped out in her sister's room with us for the week. (: It was a week of fun and late nights. We made new Facebook pages, new friends,and I even got a few new stickers on my laptop. (=
My host mom called me her daughter numerous times and when introducing me to other people, she would say, "These are my daughters, Ece, Melisa, and Abbie." And when her husband was taking me to my new house he said, "Abbie you are like third daughter to us. Everytime. Whenever you want to visit just come over. You are welcome at our house anytime, everytime." Needless to say, they were incredible and helped me a lot.
3rd HOST FAMILY*
My third host family is an eclectic group of people. My host mom is German, my host dad Turkish. My host sister lives in Spain and my host brother is at boarding school in Germany. My host dad is the nicest person. My host mom on the other hand... I haven't really figured her out. She is a wonderful person but I haven't decided if she is genuinely happy i'm there or if she is just acting happy. I'm hoping it is the first one, but either way it's a challenge. And I love challenges. I was with them for one night before I left for a brief trip back home to America (more about that in the next post).
So far So good.