would anyone be up to hosting a foreign exchange student? i know i've always wanted to travel to another country for a summer / semester but figured i'd never be able to because of my dietary restrictions.
has anyone done this before? i'm not sure how you'd work out the whole process and repay the host family and all that, but it's an idea!
if i were to do it, i'd have to stay with a family fluent in another language outside of the us to (hopefully) become fluent through immersion and learn about the culture:)
have any ideas or experience about how this works?:)
I absolutely love that this topic came up! This is something I have concerns about too. I am not 100% raw yet, in fact I'm just beginning. However, I am looking at a program to teach in China after I graduate university (2 more years), so I will be doing more research about that particular program to see if it is possible etc.
Now to elaborate on your questions. I have hosted two exchange students, been an exchange student in Germany for a summer, and am currently studying abroad in Europe. The first thing you need to do is find a good exchange program. I find that this is an overwhelming task by itself. Both my programs have been through my school, but I have researched many independent programs as well. The best thing to do is go speak to your school counselor about studying abroad in the first place. Your school may have some program information already available. This is important because of school curriculum. You can't jump into a random program if it won't give you the credits required for graduation.
So the most important part is the host family and the ability to stay raw. Once you find a program, they usually have an extensive student profile you will fill out. Host families have also filled out a profile. The program will then match students to families, and there is usually a time period in which to accept/decline/get to know the family over email type of thing. The profile is where you make your dietary standards clear. The best bet is to ask for a vegan family, even if they aren't raw. I think that if you could snag a vegan family, then they would be more understanding and accommodating of your raw lifestyle. If you can't get a vegan family, I am sure there are plenty of vegetarian families out there that would also be an acceptable choice. Another good tactic that you seem to have already employed is asking people on a raw food forum if they would be willing to host ;). Though it is a more difficult route, some programs will allow you to request a specific family, and I'm sure in the case of your "extreme diet" they would be more than happy to give you the family you want. The family would still be required to fill out an application and profile which kind of sucks. Then in your "get to know the family over internet" phase you can express your concerns and elaborate on the raw vegan lifestyle so that they are prepared for you :).
Repaying the host family shouldn't be a concern. You can help them out to be nice, but a host family is aware of their monetary commitment going into the program. They should be treating you as a member of the family, not someone renting a room! My personal opinion is that food shouldn't be your concern, but food prep! If you are used to making a lot of smoothies at home, you may have to invest in getting a good blender abroad. Even bringing your own isn't the best option because of dealing with converters, adapters, transportation etc. Discussing your raw vegan lifestyle over email will help them be aware of any financial difficulties. If there is a problem at this stage, then it can be addressed previous to your arrival date.
If all else fails, wait until college! There are many great programs to study abroad in college in which you wouldn't have to depend on a host family. Though host families are great, the independent experience is awesome as well. I have three different grocery stores less than a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and there is also a farmers market just a few stops away on the subway. My biggest problem is that the stores here are tiny, and that if I bought everything in one place, I would wipe then clean of all produce lol.
I hope this helped a little. Considering I am new to the raw lifestyle I probably overlooked something, but Good Luck!