Alumna Maruscha Reflects on her Exchange Year Experience 

Maruscha and her husband visit her host family, the Jensens, 15 years after her high school exchange year.

Maruscha’s First Impressions

I attended Lakeview High School in 2006-07 for my senior year. I remember I arrived on an evening flight and I remember the drive. I said, “Everything is so dark and quiet.”

My first impression of the high school was that the seniors looked so old– back in Indonesia, you don’t see students with facial hair or tattoos. I was excited in general of everything but I really enjoyed seeing other students being able to express themselves through their appearances. My favorite classes were Spanish with Senora Dusterwinkle and U.S. History with Mrs. Schreiber.

New Routines with her Host Family

What I miss most about my time with my host family is the routines. It was very different than my family routines, but I embraced it all — big holiday gatherings, homemade cookies, syrup on ice cream, and falling asleep while my host mom made me watch “Star Wars” for the hundredth time–LOL!

Good Advice

My biggest advice to current or future exchange students is to be flexible and embrace all of the new experiences, all the changes, and be open to friendships outside of other exchange students.

To current and future host families– give your students space at times because being away from family can be tough. Some alone times to process feelings will definitely be appreciated.

Maruscha Today

Now, I am working as an engineer in L.A. after getting my degree at MSU. The Greenheart High School exchange program did influence my decision. I would have left the country if I was turned off by my experience. But I met friends I am still in touch with to this day, plus my English would have been worse if I didn’t do my exchange program. I think the most important take-away for me is living with my host family during my formative year…it made me become a more tolerant person well into adulthood.


Thank you to Maruscha and to Lisa Jensen (Maruscha’s Host Mom and Greenheart Local Coordinator) for sharing your story. 

If you are interested in hosting an international high school exchange student with Greenheart, please visit

For more information on becoming a Local Coordinator who finds the perfect host families for Greenheart high school exchange students, visit

If you want to know more about being an international high school exchange student IN the USA, visit, or to learn more about going on a high school program OUTSIDE of the USA, visit