My family and I recently joined the Cambridge Network community. We are thrilled to welcome a new female student into our home in August. This will be our first time hosting an international student, and we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to have a positive experience. It is important to us that we provide a nurturing and inclusive environment for our student; we want her to feel like she is an important member of our family. While we are very excited, we are also nervous. How do we get started? What can I do to prepare? And what can I expect in the first few weeks?
Excited and nervous in Poughkeepsie,
New Host Dad
Dear New Host Dad,
Thank you for reaching out and welcome to our host community! As you prepare to greet your international student this coming August, I can understand your concerns and questions, which by the way, are all good ones. First-time host families tend to have had these similar concerns, so you are not alone. Here are some suggestions for managing the transition:
- Gather the student’s contact information from your local Student Development Manager (SDM), your primary Cambridge contact throughout the school year. The SDM will provide the student’s email address and WeChat ID, a messaging app for easy communication with your student and SDM. Once you receive your student’s email and WeChat information, open the lines of communication. You can also share pictures so that you can recognize each other at the airport. Please see WeChat link to download the app.
- Expect that your student will have jetlag for up to a week. Be understanding and realize they may need to catch up on sleep and eat on a different schedule for a few days. Please keep notice if the student is struggling to adjust to the time difference after more than a week. Your SDM will be in touch soon during this time, and you should bring any concerns to their attention.
- Once the student has passed this initial adjustment stage, find the best way to help your student settle in their new home. A ride through your neighborhood during the day to highlight points of interest will also help introduce your student to the community. Assure your student that you are here to help and ask what they need to adjust to the American way of living. Your student will need a working American cell number and a data plan. You can help with a trip to the store if necessary, but do not add the student to your phone plan. A new student may also need to purchase a uniform before school begins. As the host parent, you will need to ensure they get to the store to be dressed appropriately from the first day of school.
- Find a quiet time to sit and chat about expectations in your home.
- Discuss some of your house rules, keeping in mind that you want to approach the topic of rules sensitively. You may find it helpful to print out the rules and place it either in the student’s bedroom or a common area of the home for reference. You could also remind your student to keep passports, I-20, and cash in a safe place in the house.
- Reference crucial times in the home, such as:
- Bathroom schedule
- Breakfast time
- When to leave for school
- Please make sure to advise the student of any plans that might involve the student, such as family activities or holidays.
- This is also an excellent time to ask your student about food preferences, allergies, or special dietary requests.
- Your goal is to show the student there is a sound support system in place and help them feel comfortable reaching out to you. Taking it slow at the beginning, and giving the student plenty of time to get used to their new surroundings is a good idea. Another way to support the student is to work with your SDM to have all important dates on your calendars, such as the school orientation, placement tests, Cambridge events, parent-teacher conferences, and other important school dates. Your local SDM will be visiting you and your student in the home and is always a useful resource for you should you have any questions.
- During the summer you will receive an invitation from your SDM inviting you to a “Host Orientation,” which is scheduled before the arrival of your student. The orientation includes both new and returning hosts, and it is a great time to meet fellow host families and learn more about the role of the SDM. It is time to ask questions and get advice!
Please feel free to reach out with any additional questions or concerns at [email protected] Welcome to the Cambridge community!
Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider and tips for hosting. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!
All the best,