Most friendships take years to develop but for these two girls, it will only take 10 months.
Senior Sophie Roach and foreign exchange student Sara have become extremely close within the time that has passed in the school year. While this is often a new experience for both the host family and the exchange student, that is not the case this year for the Roach family and Sara.
Last year, Roach had a foreign exchange student, Astrid, from Sweden. “It’s fun. It’s obviously different from the second time and the first time. There are things that are better about it…You kind of know what to expect,” said Roach.
Sara has also had experience in the world of the foreign exchange program. Sara was able to stay with a host family in Lithuania. The foreign exchange program is known for creating relationships that last and that stretch across the globe.
Sophie and Sara have found success early on in their friendship. “We are kind of like an old married couple. We went to bed at nine ‘o’clock last night and then we woke up and we had like 18 alarms. Then so little space in the bathroom, we are doing our makeup and straightening our hair,” said Sara.
During their time together, they have shared both smiles and tears together. “I think it was the second day and it was late and we watched a movie, it wasn’t a sad movie,” said Sara. “It was a happy movie and we cried about problems together,” said Roach.
Roach and Sara have been able to share each other’s worlds literally as they share a room together. “I brought two very big suit cases all with a lot of clothes and obviously I didn’t bring everything back home so I am still missing some stuff and then I always ask Sophie if she has toothpaste or a straightener,” said Sara.
Roach has opened her doors to Sara and other foreign exchange students and in return doors across Europe have opened their homes and hearts to Sophie. “I know I will always be friends with Astrid and Sara and it’s just a really cool experience with different cultures. It gives me an opportunity because I have a place to stay in Norway and Sweden now…Every country in Europe I have a place to stay,” said Roach.
Foreign Exchange Student Coordinator Julie Begnaud said she is able to relate to these students as she was a foreign exchange student to France during her high school experience. She was there for a month and she was able to develop a “French” family. “My high school exchange experience, I consider them my French parents and my French brothers and sisters…We still keep in touch,” said Begnaud.
The living situation for these girls has allowed them to form a friendship but Sara thinks it goes beyond that. “You get friends for life…You’re forced to be family,” said Sara.
These relationships place the participators in a spot of openness to each other. “You have to be vulnerable which I think is a really important part about relationships and sometimes when you’re friends with like other Americans you don’t need that and so people don’t do that and so the friendships don’t last as long but with these we are both learning about things together and we’re living together,” said Roach.
According to Sara, this exchange is at first is an adjustment but soon turns into a normal part of life. “You start out not knowing each other and then during a couple of months you feel that you couldn’t live without the person,” said Sara.