There are people who enjoy being hospitable: they do their best to receive relatives, friends and even strangers in their homes, and they care for these people by giving them not only food and shelter but also good vibes. Usually, these people make the decision to be part of a host family for exchange students and taking into account that this activity is not profitable (although it can be agreed that the student pays a sum that would compensate such family for their living expenses), many wonder what the host family wins with all this. The answer is, among many advantages, they acquire the experience of hosting an exchange student.
Raising and setting sails
The adventure begins with the host family and the student have their first conversations. Once both parties have all the necessary information they reach an agreement and then the host family should start making their arrangements to receive the exchange student: give them a bed, a space to place their belongings and buy groceries taking into consideration that there will be one more member in the family.
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Certainly, preparations must also be made with respect to the children, telling them that the exchange student will be their sibling during the time of the stay. It is also important to encourage children to do their best to make the exchange student feel comfortable and that there will be times when more attention will be given to such student to help them through their adaptation process to the host country, but that this does not mean that they, the children, are less loved.
Navigating waters of all kinds
Notwithstanding the above, it is possible that from time to time there will be discussions between the exchange student and the children because, as it happens in every family, they will all compete for the attention of their parents.
Also, the exchange student will sometimes not have the best spirits or will carry out actions to which the host family is not accustomed so both parties will have to be patient.
The other side of the coin is that there will be areas in which the exchange student will add value to the host family. In effect, if the exchange student speaks a language different from that of the host family, they will learn new words and phrases perhaps including some bad words. It will make the host family laugh and it will be one of those things for which they will always remember the exchange student.
Likewise, the exchange student will be able to share with his host family other expressions of their culture such as songs, dances and even typical food of their country.
By the way, the exchange student will also have obligations within the home as if they were another child of their host parents.
However, it should also be considered that the main objective of the exchange student is to succeed in the study program in which they are participating and to learn the language of the host country, in case it is different from the one of their country of origin.
For this reason, the host family must give them the necessary time to go to class, fulfill assignments, attend extracurricular activities and be able to recreate themselves.
It should also be noted that the host family will have a fundamental role in each of these aspects. It is not only about housing a person and giving them food, but also about supporting them as much as possible as if they were another member of such family.
Therefore, the host family will do well in helping the exchange student in their activities, as well as giving them valuable information about the country, such as which are the fastest routes to reach certain places, places of interest, offers and security information. In short, the host family must do everything necessary for the wellbeing of the exchange student just as it would do for any of its members.
Arriving happily in port
All of the above is summarized in the golden rule: “Treat others as we would like to be treated”. If both the host family and the exchange student do this, both parties will get the most out of this experience and create a lasting friendship.
Perhaps, that last one is the biggest gain of hosting an exchange student: the possibility of connecting, creating value and exerting a positive influence on another human being.
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