Your First Week as a Host Family

Deciding to become a host family is a big decision. You’ve thought about it, discussed the pros and cons and you’ve decided to open your doors and home to an exchange student or au pair. You are about to embark on an exciting and rewarding adventure. Below are a few ways to prepare and some things you can expect as you grow your household.

Preparing for Your First Week as a Host Family

Make a list of the things you would like to discuss with your exchange student or au pair before they arrive. Setting the right boundaries and expectations from the start will make the experience more successful for everyone.

It is helpful to write down your family’s routine, and any customs or traditions you have. The more you communicate with your exchange student or au pair, the more comfortable they will feel. Look at the space you have provided for them. Will they have privacy? Make sure you offer an alarm clock, blankets and a place for them to put their belongings.

What to Expect the First Week

Now is the time to be patient and open-minded. Your new exchange student or au pair has just traveled a long distance to a new country with unfamiliar practices and customs. Give them time to adjust. Remember, traveling can be tiring.

What to Expect from Your New Exchange Student or Au Pair

Your new exchange student or au pair might not be themselves yet. Consider they may be tired, overwhelmed or even homesick. They might be in a new time zone. Show them around your home and give them time to relax. Offer something to eat and drink as they may be hungry.

What to Expect for Your Family

Opening your doors as a host family means you and others in your home need to adjust just as much as the new exchange student or au pair. Take time to get to know each other. Ask questions about their family and traditions and let them ask you questions.

Show your new exchange student or au pair how things work in your home. It will be easier for everyone if they know how to use the appliances. Don’t forget to discuss chores and helping around the house. This will allow both the host family and the exchange student or au pair to feel comfortable.

The Welcoming Host Family’s First Week Checklist

  • Double check their room is ready with everything they will need
  • Give the new exchange student or au pair a complete tour of your home
  • Write down and discuss boundaries and expectations
  • Go over the host family’s daily routine
  • Discuss safety concerns in your home
  • Talk about transportation
  • Show how all the appliances work, think laundry and kitchen

Common Fears for New Host Family (and How to Move Past Them)

You are about to embark on a new adventure and you may have fears but that’s okay. Here are a few common fears the host family may have and ways to move past them.

What About Behavioral Issues?

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries right from the start and discuss your expectations. When there is open communication, it can make behavior discussions easier. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from veteran families or your representative from the exchange or au pair program. They will be able to provide recommendations for how to handle situations.

What if the Exchange Student or Au Pair Doesn’t Like Me?

Doesn’t everyone have this fear? Keep an open mind and embrace learning about a new culture and your new exchange student or au pair will likely follow your lead. Remember they need to adjust, just like you do. It is an exciting and different time for everyone so don’t over think your relationship. It doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be rewarding.

What if the Exchange Student or Au Pair Doesn’t Like the Area?

After they arrive and have had time to settle in, give them a tour of your neighborhood and town. Visit areas around your community. Your new exchange student or au pair will be learning and observing a different culture and will be immersed in a new experience. Just because you may think you live in a small town or a boring area, doesn’t mean they won’t think it’s exciting.


As a host family, you can expect your new adventure to be an exciting one. Don’t forget to give yourself time and to give your new exchange student or au pair the time and space they need to adjust. Before you know it, the rewards will start pouring in.

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Why You Should Host a Foreign Exchange Student

There are many reasons people become host parents to foreign exchange students.  It could be to help source out facts from fiction of today’s era of deceptive headlines and political divisions.  Especially if it relates to the learning of another culture or its value. 

Most people are delighted to become host parents since it is a simple act of kindness. It enables the growth of new perspectives and helps to build bridges of friendship among people of different cultures. 
Being a host family is for sure a rewarding and life-changing experience for the whole family. It not only creates a unique chance to experience cultures but also establishes lifelong bonds. These homestay arrangements help a lot in knowing what is true and what is false. 
Hence, you can learn the difference between a harmful stereotype and a fair generalization. It also includes shedding light on what the two have in common. As a host parent, you get the chance to make someone’s dream come true. The dream of most international students is to experience the life and culture of your country. 
Here are the top ten reasons to host a foreign exchange student.

1. Share and Learn New Cultural Customs

Hosting exchange students gives you an opportunity to learn another country’s language, customs, and culture without leaving your home. These students are ready to learn more about the new culture during their stay. They are also willing to share with their host family about the aspects of their own countries and cultures. 

A hallmark of student exchange has always been cultural interaction. “Relationship” is the best antidote to breaking down prejudices and creating understanding. Inviting exchange students to sit at our tables, to share in our schools and play on our teams, we welcome a new perspective. These kinds of interactions enable the sharing of what is sacred to us. 
In return we also learn what is foreign, leading to new layers of understanding and empathy. As a host family, you get to ask questions about customs and traditions directly through the eyes of a native. You understand more about the joys of festivals from another culture including sharing about your own community’s celebrations. The sharing of these festivals with people from other country’s help reveal a lot about one’s history and culture. 
Also, to gain an expanded worldview for both you and your children.  

2. Look at Your Surroundings in Greater Detail

It is common how most people settle down into specific routines in life. You may shop in the same places, eat at the same places or you may stop going on fun outings. When you become a host family, chances are you will want to show the student best places in your surrounding. 

You get the chance to see your environment with new eyes. You discover that the day-to-day activities you may have taken for granted immediately take on new life. The international student discovers exciting areas of your surrounding the first time. You rediscover those fun parts of your surrounding you may have forgotten.  That also includes those places you never knew before. 
These excursions and sightseeing adventures make good memories and help the new family to bond together through the shared experiences. The event attractions bring new energy to your family, community, and school. Hence making them a significant highlight for the host families and the student.

3. You Will Earn Extra Income for Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student

You will receive a monthly stipend as a host family. Although not everyone cares about the money, to some people they are glad to get a little extra financial aid. The best host families do not offer a home to students for the sake of monetary compensation. However, those programs that provide a stipend are more attractive to potential hosts. 

The compensation will help to ease the constraints of adding an extra member to the household. If you have school going kids, this compensation will help provide a margin of extra money for you. It is because, you already incur school transportation costs, for your children and you cook large meals for your family. 
Therefore, it is easy enough to add an extra student to the routine. It is reasonable to use and enjoy the extra money that comes along with hosting a student. However, providing the most nurturing and caring environment for a foreign exchange student should be the biggest motivation for any host family. {Remember that not every organization pays, so ensure you check that on our FAQ’s}.

4. Lifelong Acquaintances

We all love making new friends!  It is normal though for people to get nervous about making new friends. However, you will end up with a lifelong friend once you get through the awkwardness. Having someone else to stay with you helps your relationship to grow and deepen. 

At the end of the study abroad student’s term, most students, hosts, and families keep the long-term friendship. In many occasions, host families have reported a continued relationship with their exchange student. The students stay in touch regularly with the host families after their program ends.
It is not a surprise that host families have been traveling to their exchange student’s home county to visit. They get the chance to meet their families and to experience their culture firsthand when they visit. It is due to the fantastic relationship between the host and student’s family that enables them to stay connected for life. 
These family connections are essential parts that excite the student exchange since the host parents are expanding their family throughout the continents.

5. Enhance Your Communication Skills

Today, our world is redefined by globalization. Hence, learning a foreign language is a faster-growing asset in the world of business. Hosting an exchange student is a door to learning a new language which benefits the student, host, and family. 
In fact, the best way to learn a new language is by practicing it with a native speaker. Most exchange students from different parts of the continent get the chance to improve and expand on their English capabilities. They not only think in their foreign language but also in English. 
The interaction also helps them to learn about various things that do not translate from one language to another. Beyond promoting direct, conversational opportunities, hosting exposes your children to international students. It helps the children understand the simplicity and the fun of learning a new language. 
They also learn to appreciate the beauty of foreign languages. Since communication goes way more profound than that, it enhances your children’s ability to collaborate, communicate and collaborate with others.

6. You Adopt a Mentor for Your Children

Most people believe host families ought to have either a teen daughter or son in the home. However, that is a mere misconception. It is because the exchange critically shapes the perspective of children’s of all ages. It impacts them with a long-lasting relationship with the rest of the world. 

Your teen children will love the opportunity to help a student get plugged into high school. The younger children are excellent hosts too. In most cases, the younger ones are open enough, and they bond more efficiently with their new “big sister” or “big brother.” If you only have younger kids, then they will have someone to look up to as elder siblings. 
Through the exchange students, your kids will also learn about some related cultural values and virtues in life. The knowledge will help mold and shape them to have a different world-view of everything. You may host a foreign exchange student with fluency in two or more foreign languages. It’s a motivation for your children since they will get inspired to be fluent in the foreign language they are pursuing.

7. Learn The Virtue of Sharing

By hosting an exchange student, you get the experience of sharing resources. Having a new family member means that the whole family will have to learn to stretch. Exchange students must have their bed. However, if you don’t own a spare room, it is okay for them to share a room with your children. 
Having to share a room with a new member is an excellent way to teach your children a good virtue. Also, there is a lot of other everyday things that everyone in the house will have to share. For example, if you own just a single computer and internet, everyone should have an equal chance to use it.

8. A Chance to Try New Foods

One of the most exciting parts of hosting students is that you get to try different new foods. Most exchange students would cook their traditional meals for the family at some point or another. 

Some will teach you how to prepare such types of traditional foods such as Swedish meatballs or Chinese dumplings. Food is a fundamental way of learning about another person’s upbringing and heritage. It is also amazing to experience that element of culture through your five senses.

9. Invest in the Life of a Foreign Exchange Student

As it may seem, the period spent studying abroad as an exchange student is full of potential and is exciting. But also, it can be a very challenging and lonely period. For example, in the beginning, when the student is trying to make friends, meet people and acclimate to their new culture. 
As a host parent, you are the student’s first line of guidance and help. Encouraging and nurturing your student in their new experience. You can act as a gentle push they require to help them step out of their comfort zones. Help them engage more with your family, make new friends, meet new people, to join a school team or club. 

It will enable them to get more out of their experience. Also, you have the chance to encourage them in their studies. It is by helping them attain the educational goals they set out to achieve. As a host parent, it is good to invest time and care you in your foreign exchange student. 
It is because you get satisfied to see the investment yield excellent results as the semester progresses. You genuinely feel proud of your role of helping a student reach their potential.

10. Develop Understanding

Most people assume that people from other countries differ entirely from them. If you host an international exchange student, you learn that we have a lot in common. 
Ones you allow an international student with a different culture into your lives, you cultivate an appreciation for some facts. That despite speaking different languages, living thousands of miles away, entertaining ourselves in various ways, following different sports, it is possible we all have the capabilities of maintaining a meaningful, genuine relationship with each other.

Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student – Final Thoughts

Hosting a foreign exchange student is a hugely rewarding experience for both you and the whole family. You learn a new language and culture even without leaving your own home or country. Inviting a new family member promotes a lifelong friendship with your new daughter or son. 

Once the term ends, and it’s time for your student to go home, you will have a friend in a foreign country. Hosting an exchange student makes your family members feel more close to one another. Supposing you have children, they will develop a broad perspective on the world. It is by learning more about international cultures and their enhancing communication skills. 
Also, they discover the virtue of sharing and promoting understanding. Younger children will benefit by having a big sister or brother from another country. You are also making a someone’s dream come true. Dreams come true when giving your student a gift to experience a new way of life. 
Last, as a host, you act as a great citizen diplomat. It is because you are breaking stereotypes, creating positive impressions about your county and the people of your country. You are also fostering respect mutual and understanding.
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