Students are finally in America and school is in session! While this is an exciting time for everyone, we must also keep in mind that an exchange is a big adjustment for both our students and host families.
One of the best ways our host families can make students feel welcome is to get to know them on a more personal level once the shock and awe of their arrival to the U.S. dies down. Students can also help everyone adjust by being open with host families and willing to try new things.
Everyone should have lots of questions during this period. What are they interested in? What are their talents and skills? Why did they choose to host an international student?Why did they want to study in America? Do they have any more family in the host community? What is their natural family like? Building a relationship makes for a smoother program for everyone!
As you and your student adjust to each other and schools, students might find that their expectations are different than reality. We recommend that you visit frequently with your student and talk with each other often about their experiences and what's important to them during their program. Flexibility and communication are crucial during this time of adjustment.
Homesickness is a common concern at the start of the year. It’s a natural part of traveling abroad, and something that almost everyone experiences at some point. If your student feels homesick, encourage them to monitor how much time they spend talking with friends and family back home. Too much communication can make the problem worse. Getting involved in the host community also helps students adjust more quickly. Help them come up with ideas of things to do or ways to meet new people, such as a club or activity at school. As a host family, you might consider letting the students decorate their room with posters or pictures that can make them feel more at home.
Sometimes students struggle academically early on in the year. They are adjusting to a lot of changes in their daily school life! Homework style, language, and class structure can all be very different from what they’re used to. Host families and schools should work together to find our if there are any concerns about a student’s academic performance as he or she adjusts to their new school. If there are concerns, be sure to let your local rep or student/host family advisor know right away. We will help you provide the student with support and guidelines as needed.