Aldo joined the InterStudies programme in the UK from Italy in September 2017. Aldo planned to come to the UK for 1 year, but loved it so much he decided to stay. Today Aldo is studying at University in London, and is still in regular touch with his host family. Host Mum, Katie looked back on Aldo’s arrival and how quickly 2 years went!
Before we realized it, the day had come to take Aldo to university. We’re not really sure how this time went by so quickly! Aldo initially arrived with us for 10 months, but he settled in so well that he decided to extend his course to complete his A Levels. With the exams completed, we were as proud as punch and the next step was to pack our car up (with a lot more stuff than he arrived with!) and take him off to his next adventure.
We remember so clearly driving to the airport to pick Aldo up when he first arrived, and know that he was feeling nervous about meeting us, but we were feeling the exact same way too. What if he didn’t like us? The next 48 hours were a blur of settling in, showing where the tea cups live, showing how to turn the shower on, encouraging him to make himself at home. Us learning to relax and him learning to just be himself.
Flash forward a few months and we’d all got used to our new life. Aldo was happy in school, had put a tremendous effort into getting out and being social with his school friends and, because of this, secured some great friendships. These friendships still remain. For us, a lot of dinners sat round the kitchen table chatting until late, games of Uno (with the kids) and then card games (when the kids had gone to bed), cooking together and sharing recipes, camping adventures, Netflix evenings, and road trips with Aldo sat in between my two boys watching Mary Poppins (the new one, of course) on the way to visit my family in the north of England. All lovely memories.
There were times of sadness along the way and these brought us closer together. There was a moment when I nearly lost my own mother, and during this, Aldo helped at home even more than ever, and gave us the support we needed to overcome the trials we were personally facing. It’s times like this that the quote, ‘There are friends, there is family, and then there are friends that become family’ make a lot of sense.
I often think of hosting as having a kite. It’s all bright and colourful, the excitement of what it will be like is there, and it is only when you take it in your hands and help it fly, that you see the true joy so many families receive from hosting. It’s not all easy, everyone has to put the effort in to make the relationship work and once your student is flying high, you can sit back and watch them flourish. They may drop down at times, like when there’s a particular festival in their home country that makes them have a wobble of homesickness, but if you pull the strings again and provide encouragement, they will be flying high soon enough.
My kids absolutely adore Aldo, he became their big brother and that is something that will never go away. We’re really lucky that we still have the opportunities to get together frequently now; uni isn’t that far away, as it happens, so our journey continues on, but, is in a new chapter. An equally exciting one.