When you decide to become a host family for students looking to study abroad, you're providing a useful service to those young adults and their families. Simply put, people feel safer booking a stay with a host family rather than relying on campus dorms. As a bonus, you'll even earn a little extra money! Hosting gives you the opportunity to enjoy meeting new people and learning about other cultures, even as you teach them about yours.
In other words, it's a win-win experience for both host families and the foreign exchange students that stay with them. But it shouldn't surprise you that many students find themselves dealing with language barriers, culture shock, and homesickness when they study abroad. So in an effort to ease their transition, you want to make sure your home is as welcoming as possible.
Create A Comfortable Space for Your Student
Hosting a foreign exchange student, while certainly beneficial to all involved, will require some work—and that work starts with preparing your home to welcome a new member, even if only temporarily. You can do this in a variety of ways. StudentRoomStay uses host and student preferences to ensure a compatible match, so you should have a better chance of getting along with your student.
However, you should still take steps to make your student feel comfortable. A clean room with a comfortable bed, a desk for study, and maybe even access to media (a TV, a stereo, or at least internet access) is a good start. Installing a pinboard will save your walls from tacks and tape and allow your student to pin up photos of family and friends, making them feel right at home.
Be Culturally Aware and Flexible
You might want to try to make students feel at home by providing some measure of familiarity or making some adjustments based on the student's culture. Ask questions, listen, and be sensitive to how your student experiences cultural differences. Maybe they're used to eating at a different time or using a different style of communication. Pay attention to these differences and consider adjusting some things in your own routine to help ease the transition. There will likely be some growing pains associated with hosting foreign students, but a little forethought and compassion will go a long way towards making the student in your home feel welcome.
When students find a host family, they're naturally hoping for a household that is compatible. And you can definitely do your part to make your home warm and inviting for your guest. Just try to put yourself in your student's shoes and think about what would put them at ease.
Contact us if you any questions, tips or suggestions on preparing your home for your incoming international students!