Expecting an exchange student? You might be feeling the normal “pre-arrival jitters” as you anticipate the beginning of this adventure!
But no matter how long you’ve been preparing, your student has been imagining this moment for far longer! After months of preparation, they have finally made the journey away from family and friends and have landed in their new hometown. As they get off the plane, they will be experiencing many different things— they are excited, exhausted, emotional, and incredibly nervous. They wonder, “What kind of new life awaits me?” You can help set a positive tone on your student’s arrival day by following these tips:
- Plan a modest “welcome party” at the airport. Make a sign with the student’s name on it, and/or plan to bring balloons, flowers, or something else that tells the student, “We’re happy you’re here!”
- Don’t leave the student alone on the first day. While he or she may need some time to rest or unpack, don’t drop them off at home and then leave them alone in the house. Your presence will help them feel wanted and secure.
- Ignore your first impressions, as they will likely be wrong! Your student has just been catapulted out of his or her comfort zone and into your family life. There are a host of reasons why he or she might not quite be “themselves.” Try not to place any expectations on the first days.
- Remember that English is not your student’s native language. Be resourceful, and use Google translate or another translator if necessary.
- Avoid going over “house rules” on the first day. Start with a tour of the home, making sure they know how to use things like the shower. Other house rules should wait until they are rested.
- Get outside! Fresh air is welcome medicine for a student who has been on a plane or in airports for the last 9+ hours. Consider taking a walk downtown for ice cream, or having a slice of cake together on your porch or deck. These small, comforting gestures matter more than you know!