Foreign Exchange Students in the Upper Peninsula

HOUGHTON – The Keweenaw Peninsula is a hub for international students. But it’s not just college students. The Copper Country’s many public schools are also home to many students from other countries. Most international students are about halfway through the school year. That means they are getting ready to go back home to be with their families. The experience has given them the opportunity to reflect on some of the differences between their home country and the Upper Peninsula.

“I just feel that now I’m in love with winter. With all the activities you can do in winter, in the snow. And so I’m very worried when I come back home to Italy, where we don’t have snow. I will be so sad during the winter without nothing.” – Olivia Latella, Italian Exchange Student

“Basically everything’s different. Like from Hong Kong to here, cause Hong Kong is, like a big city and this is much more small town. And then the weather in Hong Kong is a lot warmer. And here is apparently freezing. And, yeah, pretty much everything, name anything, and its different.” – Hailey Lun, Hong Kong Exchange Student

Foreign exchange programs give students the opportunity to live with a local host family. Host families provide homes for the students but they are also a second family for the student when they are far from their own.  The experience can create strong bonds between students and their Upper Peninsula family.

“Some of them might have requested Michigan, or the mid west. But I think for all of them the Upper Peninsula itself, is a real surprise. For host families, or people who are interested in hosting, the application process is much like that if you applied for job online. And then we would sit down together, and do an in person interview. So I can answer any of their questions, and ask a few of my own. And kinda find out what the family is all about. So we can find a student who fits their interests, their hobbies, their activity level.” – Lauren Scherr, Regional Administrator, International Cultural Exchange Services

The school year is wrapping up quickly, and summer vacation is just around the corner. For Hailey and Olivia, it will mean leaving their new families. That will be a sad day. But as they rejoin their own families back home in Italy and Hong Kong, they will take with them the experiences and relationships they forged while they were here in the U.P. If you are interested in hosting an exchange student check out the international cultural exchange services online

International Exchange Cultural Services

Become a Host Family

Host Family FAQ