Here are the three stages of homestay and some host family tips for each:
Step 1: Before Your Student Arrives
Have all your due diligence in place when it comes to homestay paperwork, contracts and host training. It can seem like a lot of work at times, but staying organized will pay off in the long run and help to ensure you and your student's safety.
Prepare your student’s room. A good practice is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what kind of room you would like as a young person, traveling thousands of miles to come live in a new country. Aim to create a clean, inviting and home-like space for them.
Familiarize yourself with their school schedule and calendar. Students may be very overwhelmed at the beginning. You can help them understand what to expect and guide them along the way.
Step 2: When Your Student Arrives
Give your student a tour of the house. Make them feel at home by showing them around the house (more than just their bedroom and the bathroom). They may be unfamiliar with how your appliances work and need help with small details, like where toilet paper or clean towels are.
Set your house rules and expectations. As with all young people, your student may not keep to all your rules perfectly. Setting expectations from the beginning helps to avoid any misunderstandings. We encourage you to write these down for your student to reference at any time.
Encourage your student to practice their English with you. Helping your student speak English can help them feel more confident and involved as they adapt to their new surroundings.
Be flexible with meals. Your student may need some time to adjust to different types of food. Be patient with them if needed, as they will be dealing with multiple cultural differences. It may take time at first for them to adjust to a new diet and the types of food your family eats.
Let them rest. You may be excited to take your student sightseeing to all your favorite places or introduce them to your friends. Try to take it easy in the beginning as they may be jet lagged and overwhelmed by all their new surroundings. Give them time to rest and get settled.
Step 3: After Your Student has Settled in
Stay engaged. Some students will be talkative and eager to join you and your family in whatever you do. Some students will be far less outgoing, so, do your best to stay involved in their school and home life, while still respecting their need for space. Keep inviting them to join your family outings, they may just need time to warm up to your family.
Recognize that cultural differences matter. Different cultures express things like disagreements or requests in different ways. Remember that there may be different communication styles in play. Also, try to be sensitive to the fact that your student might be too embarrassed or intimidated to share what they really think.
Reach out if you need help. StudentRoomStay offers support anytime you need to speak to one of our representatives. Stay connected with your student’s school and help your student contact teachers or tutors if they need extra help. If possible, connect with other host families in your area—they may have some great suggestions!
Exercise patience and perseverance. No matter how great a student or host family is, challenges are always likely to arise. When miscommunications arise, you can help get everyone through it by being patient and continuing to work at the relationship.