When I think of exchange students, I usually picture high school or college-aged students. After all, these students typically travel halfway across the world to a foreign country and must be able to care for themselves.
However, TikToker Katie Peters (@kpintoledo) was only 12-years-old when she became an exchange student in Spain. And she’s telling the story now as an adult about how it happened and what her time was like there.
One day, Katie’s school sent home flyers announcing that a family in Madrid, Spain, was looking for a sixth grader to do a family exchange with them.
The family also had a daughter who was in sixth grade. Additionally, they happened to be the head of the FBI of Madrid.
Most kids would be terrified to journey to a strange land alone, but not Katie. When Katie saw the flyer, she immediately jumped at the opportunity, despite not knowing anything about the culture or language. Plus, she had only ever been on a plane one time in her life before this.
She begged and begged her parents to let her go. Eventually, she somehow convinced her parents to agree, emphasizing that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So they scrimped and saved enough money to send her to Spain.
The way the exchange worked was that Katie would first fly to Madrid to live with the Spanish family. Later, the other girl would return to the U.S. with Katie to live with Katie’s family.
When Katie landed in Madrid, she realized right away that she and Maria, the other sixth-grade girl, would not be best friends as she had hoped.
“When I got there, I discovered immediately that Maria had a boyfriend who was 16. That might as well have been 30 to me. Not only that, his name was Emilio, and he drove a motorcycle, which she rode on!” Katie recalled.