"Our oldest son Samuel returned months ago from probably one of the most amazing year of his life in Austria. He was incredibly lucky in every aspects of his exchange and very well prepared for it. We have hosted 6 children (4 for STS) ourselves, so he had some ideas about exchange before going. but I think what he happened to live this year happens only to very, very few incredibly lucky students.
But I don't want to talk about his experience, I'd like to talk about my personal one with STS:
I have very nice professional relations with STS Canada, but what I lived this year thanks to Katrin Kowalski from Austria is way beyond normal formal relations you expect to have with a STS Country Manager.
It started at least 3 month before Samuels departure; we had some concerns about the host family (free time and space). Katrins' always immediate, honest and reassuring communications were crucial for building atmosphere of full confidence.
We stayed in contact since :), Katrin was able to place Samuel in a fantastic musical school in Vienna, she would help me with the gift ideas for the family, she and Heike (Samuel’s Area Rep) would go for Samuels show when he was singing at the student opera theatre, she would invite Samuels host parents for supper and was simply always there for Samuels travel approvals, change of family and our eternal questions or a simple chat.
In spring Katrin visited Canada and we had thanks to STS the chance to meet her and her husband in person. It is hard to explain what dimension this meeting added to already our non-formal relation. When I visited Vienna in June, we met again and had a wonderful afternoon over a real Vienna schnitzel cooked by Katrin and Heike. We stayed in contact with Katrin and both Samuel’s families.
I do not know how to say thanks, so I use at least words to express my gratitude. We firmly believe that those generous people will visit us and we will have at least a small chance to show them our gratitude. Give and you would be given"
Romi, mother of Samuel, STS Exchange Student to Austria, and of Jonathan, future STS Exchange Student to Germany