Hosting an exchange student is a true EXPERIENCE that is second-to-none! With that experience comes a rich, dynamic relationship, not a boring status-quo. So what can a host family do to truly engage and enjoy this adventure to the fullest? We love some of the wisdom shared by our previous host families!
- Remember that your student will be different than your family. We discovered much more joy when we stepped back and let our host daughter be who she was instead of wishing she matched our own ideals. That’s when we really got to know her on a deeper level!
- Expect your student to become a real part of the family! But remember, with that familiarity comes forgetfulness, messiness, and a full range of normal teen behaviors. At first our host son was extremely polite all the time, but when he got more comfortable, he relaxed a lot. Our Coordinator reminded us that this is GOOD — he felt comfortable with us!
- More than anything, your student will want to know he or she is really part of the family, so treat them like a family member from the very first day. Going to the grocery? Ask if they’d like to ride along. Taking a walk? Bring them with you. Making dinner? Have them peel the potatoes!
- Our student needed a lot of time in her bedroom at the end of the day. Don’t be offended if this happens to you! Most teenagers I know like to spend a good amount of time by themselves, and exchange students seem to need extra “down time” after an exhausting day of living in English.
- Laugh! Relax! We started out taking everything too seriously, and nobody was very happy. When we learned to relax and just have fun together, it changed for the better.
Have you joined the journey?
Visit us at IE-USA.org to learn more!