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    Foreign family first


    Vincent van Remmen has found his home away from home in Paso Robles

    Traveling thousands of miles away from your home and family to spend a year in a foreign place is an incredibly intimidating concept for many. Trying to feel comfortable and accepted in an unknown place can be daunting, especially when you are brought into the home of another family. Luckily for Vincent van Remmen, a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands, the Dewhurst family took him right in.

    After arriving in Paso Robles on August 20, van Remmen prepared to spend the following ten months in an unfamiliar household, hoping that his new family would like him. According to him, however, they did before they even knew him.

    “They said that I looked a lot like [the Dewhursts’ son] and that I was really outdoorsy and active,” van Remmen said. He described how the exchange program he was with had a website where potential host families could choose for themselves the students that they wanted to take in for the year. “They just liked my things, I guess,” he said.

    This enjoyment, however, is not one sided. van Remmen describes how comfortable and at ease he is with this new family as they find ways to have enjoy their time all together, such as going skiing in Lake Tahoe over Christmas.

    What I like about [the Dewhurst family] is how open they are and how active they are,” he explained. “The small sister always makes everything a competition and sometimes that’s fun.”

    Definite cultural contrasts still challenge van Remmen’s comfort. Between the new people and places in his life, there are undeniable differences, most notably to him the language, food, and family structure.

    “[What I miss is] Just the things you miss about your own home.”

    “I’ve never had a smaller brother or bigger brother and now I do, so that’s different,” he said, counting out the three brothers and sister in his host family. He then notes how, back home in the Netherlands, he has “two bigger sisters, and my parents.”

    However, van Remmen is honest: the cultural differences can be difficult in spite of the fun. 

    When asked what he missed most about the Netherlands, he thought for a moment. “Just the things you miss about your own home,” he said. Then, laughing sheepishly, he added, “I don’t know if that’s the correct answer.”

    Still, Vincent van Remmen finds a home and a family in incredibly foreign circumstances, proving that there can be family wherever we go if we are really looking for it. Our home does not always have to be where we are from; it can be where we feel at ease with the ones around us, where we have built our family of any kind.

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