One of the less mentioned topics when it comes to exchange programs is that of the host family, the one that receives an exchange student at their home to host such student. However, this topic rarely addressed from the perspective of the family. In the following article, we will give tips to be a good host family based on the experience of people who have fulfilled that role. These are the tips:
Be aware that there will be changes at home
One of the main points is to remember that the student is not the only one who is venturing into a new experience. It is an unavoidable fact that the host family’s home environment will change at the presence of a new member, especially at the beginning when both are making great efforts to understand each other if the student comes from a country with a different language. It is easier to deal with these changes when you have already prepared to feel them and have taken into consideration the implications of living with a stranger. Above all, remember that many changes, however confusing, help us grow as a person.
Treat the exchange student as a member of the host family
The treatment given to the student must be on equal terms with the rest of the family. They already must feel worried because of being in a new place with strangers. Although the need to adapt is implicit in any exchange program, cultural clashes are inevitable. So imagine that this student is part of your family and treat him kindly and warmly, in such a way that even though your cultures are totally different, that student can feel comfortable in your home.
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Honesty and clear rules are the keys
Be honest from the beginning regarding the establishment of schedules, assignment of responsibilities and other types of agreements to maintain proper coexistence. Also, communication with the student should ideally be in the language spoken at the host family’s home. One of the reasons for the exchange program to exist is for the student to learn the language and culture of the host country. In addition, it is necessary to inform them about your house rules, which must be applied in equal terms to the rest of the family. In that sense, respect for family traditions and collaboration in housework is essential.
Support the student exchange in its adaptation process
The host family must help the student exchange to introduce the latter in the country and its culture, accompanying them in their adaptation process. In this sense, they should be informed about how transportation works, how to interact with some people to make more friends. Also, host families should take students to interesting places, restaurants, museums, etc., where they can learn more about history, music, and local traditions. It should not be forgotten that the host family is in charge of helping the exchange student to take their first steps within the society of the host country.
The first days and weeks are the most complicated ones because of the adaptation process. Never allow something that you do not understand to make you angry. The best thing is to solve whatever issues with communication. Once the student learns to communicate better in the new language, it will be propitious to inquire them about what life is like in their country of origin; you may be surprised at their answers. The exchange students are not the only ones who get to learn thanks to the exchange program; host families do as well.
Ask for other host families’ opinion
If you know people who have been part of a host family, you can ask about their experience or how they handled a particular situation. Never be afraid to ask questions, being informed is one of the keys to being an excellent host house. If you have any questions or are interested in hosting exchange students, please contact us.