As you and your visiting student(s) go through this new adventure, we wanted to give you some tips for getting to know each other and making the experience a happy memory for your whole family.
When your student arrives, they will likely be excited and want to try everything new. Make sure the house rules – including curfews and chores – are clearly communicated up front. Many students, particularly those from eastern cultures, have been brought up in affluent homes with nannies or home staff, so they do not expect to be asked to walk the dog, feed the fish or wash the dishes. Simply be clear and calm about the rules at the beginning of the student’s stay. Communicate how and when the student will get to and from school, rules for homework and expectations for the school year. Communication is key!
After the first few wonderful days of experimenting and exploring are over, your student may feel isolated, lonely and – most definitely – homesick. It’s important that you are compassionate about your student’s potentially unstable temperament and sensitivity. After all, they are teenagers a long way from home. Try to accommodate and encourage regular emails and Skype calls to their parents in order to soften their homesickness.
This is also a time to try to incorporate some of their culture into your home in the form of food or observances, like the upcoming Chinese New Year on February 8th.
Eventually, your student will adjust to their new environment and accept the differences in cultures. This is when your student will be more open and confident to learn about new lifestyles, cultures and traditions; and perhaps share their own with you.
Hosting an international student is a wonderful experience for both you and your family. Enjoy the little moments and the small accomplishments your student makes. Encourage social activities and be supportive. Try and do things as a family and, most importantly, have fun!
Below are a few links to more in-depth information about communication, the importance of food and a great read on how to engage with your international students!
9 Tips for Communicating with Your International Student
How to Appeal to Your International Student’s Appetite
5 Tips On Engaging With Your International Student