What to Expect as a First-Time Host Family

Becoming a host family is a remarkable opportunity to open your doors, hearts, and minds to a new culture. Welcoming an exchange student into your home can be an enriching experience for both your family and the student. However, as a first-time host family, it's natural to have questions about what to expect. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the journey and highlight key aspects you can anticipate when hosting a high school exchange student.

Amanda Anna Stearn_HF Anderson

Preparing for Arrival

Before your student arrives, there are several steps you can take to ensure a smooth transition. These include:

      • - Setting up their space. Either in their own bedroom or the bedroom they will share with one of your children.
      • - Checking in with your exchange student. You can start communicating as soon as your placement is confirmed.
      • - Familiarizing yourself with cultural information from your exchange student’s home country. By making these preparations, you'll help your new family member feel welcome from day one.

Cultural Exchange

Hosting an international student provides a unique opportunity for cultural exchange. Prepare to embrace new traditions, languages, and perspectives. Encourage your student to share their customs and be open to learning from their experiences. Engaging in cultural activities, trying new foods, and celebrating important holidays together will foster a stronger connection and mutual understanding. Check out what’s happening in your local community such as fairs and events that your family can attend with your exchange student. Everything is exciting when seen through the eyes of an exchange student, even something as mundane as going grocery shopping with you!

Language and Communication

Although all STS Foundation exchange students arrive in the USA with a good level of English, you should still expect misunderstandings to occur due to language translations at the beginning of the exchange. Patience and understanding are key. Simple gestures, visual aids, and language learning resources can bridge gaps in communication. Embrace the opportunity to practice and learn new phrases from your student, and be open to helping them improve their language skills.

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Establishing Routines

As a first-time host family, it's essential to establish clear expectations and routines early on. Discuss house rules, meal times, curfews, and responsibilities. Balancing the need for structure with flexibility will create a comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone. Encourage open communication so that any issues can be addressed promptly and respectfully.

Providing Support

While your student is attending a local school, they may need guidance and support during their academic journey. Familiarize yourself with their school’s policies, extracurricular activities, and communication channels. Offer assistance with homework, studying, and adapting to the educational system. Your support will help your student navigate their academic challenges and excel in their studies.

Building Lasting Connections

Hosting a student often leads to lifelong connections. Embrace the opportunity to create lasting memories, build friendships, and forge bonds that can extend beyond their stay. Encourage interactions between your student and your own children, involve them in family activities, and introduce them to your extended network of friends and neighbors. The relationships you develop can enrich your lives and create a global network of connections.

Hosting an international student as a first-time host family is an adventure that will broaden your horizons and create lifelong memories. By preparing for their arrival, embracing cultural exchange, establishing routines, and providing support, you’ll create a nurturing environment where your student can thrive. Remember, the experience is a two-way street, your family will also benefit from this cultural exchange. So open your home, embrace the journey, and get ready for an unforgettable experience as a host family.

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What to Expect as a First-Time Host Family

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