I couldn't stand him, but I learnt how to love my host brother

Published by Cristian Fabi — 3 years ago

Blog: Between homes
Tags: Erasmus blog Greeley, Greeley, United States

If you also went on exchange during high school, you probably know that between the moment you send your application abroad and the moment you receive your host family’s information there’s just a long wait that slowly drives you insane. All you want to do is going on exchange and you desperately want to know where you will spend one year of your life. But when you less expect it, there is the information you waited long for, waiting to be opened. I was using my laptop one night and after concluding everything I was doing I weirdly decided to check my mailbox, who knows, maybe someone sent me something important. It was meant to be because not even ten minutes earlier my host dad sent me a (short) email in which he introduced himself and his family. “I am Brian, I am texting you from Colorado USA. Kim is my wife and Hunter is my son”.

Getting to know them

Among the one hundred emails that we sent back and forth, there was one from them saying that Kim and Brian were going to be in Switzerland at the end of July and they asked me if I could reach them so that I could meet them in person, they could meet my family and give me advice upon my arrival at the Denver International Airport. Meeting them felt right, they felt like family since the very first time I saw them, and it was also very good for my parents to see the people I was going to be living with for one year. Hunter could not join his parents for the trip...


This is the place where I met them, alias Sankt Moritz. We spent a few hours together, we had lunch, walked around the city and then it was time for me and my family to drive back to Milan.

Not every thing (or everyone) is easy to deal with

I finally land at the airport, I call them on the phone and let them know that my plane is on time, all I have to do is go through customs and then I will see them waiting for me at the arrivals. Wrong. They were at the wrong gate so I eventually saw them wandering around the terminal trying to spot me. It was Brian and Hunter, my host mom was in the car. He could not stop staring at me, he was probably trying to figure out what kind of person I was. I tried to be nice to him since the beginning and I could see that he was nice to me too, but it looked like he had two faces. At home, he was all nice and then at school he would not consider me as much as I thought he would. I even started playing tennis because they asked me to and he was on the team. I thought it was a good move to meet people and get to know him better, but eventually it turned out to be a waste of time because none of the few guys on the team ended up being good friends with me, and I did not really love how my host brother behaved during the tennis season.


(This is just one of the consequences of being a professional tennis player lol. Actually, I just tripped on the net and fell on the court. It was one of my first days of practice. But I learned to laugh at myself during exchange instead of worrying about what people might have thought of me at that moment, hahaha)


(This is me but now I just look more badass, and quite concentrated in the game. Truth is, I do not even know what I was doing. #StoryOfMyLifeOnTheTennisCourt)

But back to my host brother, he sometimes doesn't realize how lucky he is to have parents that care so much about him, I felt like sometimes he was quite spoiled, meaning that he wouldn't really appreciate what he had. He would also choose the wrong thing to do even when I would suggest him to change and do the right thing. I guess we really started to bond in early November, from my birthday to my host parents’ twenty-fifth anniversary and then Thanksgiving and winter break. He started inviting me over to his room, playing video games with him, watching TV series, eating junk food at two in the morning... I mean does not sound appealing to you maybe, but that is all I wanted to do. I wanted to bond with him and see what he was really like.

At the beginning he would introduce me to people saying “this is my exchange student from Italy” but eventually he started saying to people that I was his “Italian brother”. It sure felt good to be introduced to people as a member of the family rather than a foreign “pet”. He also started to appreciate my company (I guess) and he told me he looked at me as a role model. If he had to deal with something, he would think about what my reaction would be in the same exact situation. I think this is really cool. Not only we became friends, but after this sentence that he told me I felt like I really succeeded in having a younger brother.



(This picture basically sums up everything my host brother and I used to do together. Except, instead of standing we would relax our "tired" butts on the couch with some Mac And Cheese. I know, I am Italian and I should know that things heated up in the microwave with powder cheese are not real pasta (or not even good food), but that's what the pantry offered. And besides, we could not cook meals at two in the morning, we still had to look normal to "our" parents :').

Why am I writing this?

I am writing all of this because I know that a lot of students are leaving now their homes to discover new ones abroad, but I do want to warn everyone that you need to earn things. Do not expect things to be perfect since the beginning, and arrive in your host country without expectations because you might be disappointed by what it is really waiting for you abroad. Do not make this mistake but work your way through instead. At the end of your year, you will have a completely personal experience and you will have walked your own path rather than following the kind of exchange you wanted to have. Reading someone else’s experiences before going on exchange is a good thing to be inspired and maybe do even better, not to copy them. I’m sure that if you will also go to the USA, there will be things that you will do just like any other exchange:

  • have a Starbucks drink, because Americans like drive thru;
  • go to prom, because it’s part of the experience (even better if you get the title of Queen or King! );
  • go to the corn maze for Halloween at night (I’m not actually sure if everyone does that, but I suggest you to go if there’s one near you);
  • celebrate the fourth of July (I actually know that sometimes students go back in June, try instead to stay longer if your VISA doesn’t expire right after school. I stayed in the US until July fifteenth! ).

— Cristian

{Former Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Italy to Colorado}

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