Hosting international students can be a new and challenging task. Many people do not know what to expect, and this can cause many different types of misunderstandings. Over the years, we have seen many successful pairings between host families and students, and many of those successful matches were due to certain qualities that the host family had. Here are eight tips on how to become a great host family:
1. Have some sort of welcome ready for their arrival
Welcome banners, parties, or kits with items such as a public transportation map, translation dictionary, a card with important telephone numbers and addresses, etc. are all a good idea, but make sure that you do not overwhelm your student on the first night.
2. Be nice to your student
A friendly and welcoming attitude will make your student feel more comfortable. Ask your student if he or she has any meal preferences; make sure that the student’s space is sufficiently warm in the colder months and cool in the warmer months.
3. Try to communicate as much as you can
Most of our students are here to learn English. Take the initiative to speak with them; the more you go out of your way to communicate with you students, the greater your relationship will become.
4. Respect your student’s privacy
His or her bedroom needs to be respected as private space. You should knock before entering, and let the student know if you need to go in there when they are not home.
5. Show your student your neighborhood
Taking the time to show your student how to use the public transportation, where the nearest laundromat, deli, or subway station are will make them feel more comfortable than writing down this information on a piece of paper. You could even take a free day and tour the local sight-seeing places with your student. This will make the students to feel cared for and supported, and that is a great way for them to begin their stay (especially if it’s a long one).
6. Make an effort to get to know your student and his or her culture
The student is here to study and learn about American culture, but they are also eager to share their culture with you. This is a great opportunity for you and your family to learn about a new culture. We encourage you and your family to ask your new guest questions about their local festivals, holidays and traditions, or ask them to prepare a meal that might be traditional in their home country.
7. Be reasonable with your expectations of the student
While the students should respect your space and help to keep it clean, their focus should be on their studies and on experiencing all that your city has to offer. Don’t forbid them to take more than one shower a day during the hottest months of the year. Don’t expect a young adult to respect a 9 PM curfew. Please make sure that you have a discussion with your student either the first night that he or she arrives, or the next morning (if they arrive late) to review your house rules and expectations. And, if you are unsure about some of the rules that you are establishing, contact your local Sara’s Homestay representative and let us help you create a list of common sense rules.
Do you have any tip (s)? Share in the comments below.