Homestay is a big adjustment, not only for the international student coming to live with you, but also for you and your family. Someone totally new is coming to live in your home and that’s going to take some time to get used to.
Along with cultural differences, there may be necessary adjustments to schedules, routines and everyday activities. Trust us, that awkward introductory period won’t last forever!
With a little bit of time and patience, you will find the pieces that make this puzzle fit.
If you’re finding it difficult to adjust to hosting an international student in your time, you can always contact your SRS representative with any questions or concerns.
Tips for Adjusting to Homestay Life
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
Before your student steps through the door, prepare everything you know you’ll need to make the adjustment easier
Have their room set up and ready to go
Do some research about their culture and traditions
Learn about → ways you can help them transition into American culture
A lot of the things you experience in your homestay adventure will be a learn-as-you-go situation. But the best thing you can do is prepare as much as possible for the adjustment before it even begins.
2. Get to Know Them
Just like meeting any new person, there’s a short time when you know nothing about them. It might feel weird at first, but those feelings will fade the more you get to know about your student.
Take an interest in them as a person.
Ask them about their likes and dislikes.
Encourage them to talk about their home and their family.
Take note of things they seem interested in.
Getting to know your student will make them feel more like a member of your family that’s right at home under your roof.
3. Show an Interest in Their Culture
Cultural differences are a big reason homestay adjustment can be difficult for both you and your international student. Culture shock can disrupt your home life, which is why it’s important to ease feelings of difference as much as possible.
If you find your international student doing something in a different way, use it as an opportunity to learn something new.
They might use your kitchen to cook some of their favorite foods from back home, maybe you could try some.
It’s better to ask questions to try to understand them than avoid the topic entirely. You might find out some really cool things and get closer to your student at the same time.
4. Take “You” Time
Yes, you are a host and you have to be involved in the homestay journey for it to be successful and rewarding for everyone involved. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up all of your personal time and interests in order to be a host.
Ensure you schedule plenty of “you” time in your days so you have a moment to yourself when you need it.
Time with your significant other/friends
Special bonding time with your children
When you have things that are only yours, it will make the adjustment of sharing your house that much easier.
5. Be Patient
These things take time.
You can’t expect to be used to a new family member in your home overnight.
Give yourself some room to process everything and for your student to get used to you and your family as well.
The longer they stay, the more they’ll feel like a member of the family.
Helping Your Children Adjust to Homestay Life
Kids are resilient, they handle change relatively well, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need some help adjusting.
If you’re worried about your children getting used to having a new person living in your home, take some of these tips to help them transition into homestay life.
1. Prepare Them Ahead of Time
Talk to your kids about your decision to host an international student.
Give them the reasons why you’re excited about this new adventure and let them know exactly what to expect when your student arrives.
If there need to be any changes made to routines, let them know in advance.
This is also a great time to set up any rules that will be in place while you’re hosting. You can go over them again prior to your international student’s arrival to make sure you’re all on the same page.
2. Inform Them About the New Culture
Leading up to your student's arrival, provide your kids with information on the culture that your student comes from.
Read children’s books about the culture to your little kids
Tell them about the important holidays from that culture
Watch videos about the culture and their traditions
While you can’t possibly predict everything about your international student’s culture, having a little bit of knowledge will feed your child’s curiosity and open them up to learning more when the time comes.
3. Keep a Consistent Routine
Kids thrive on routine.
Even after your international student arrives, make it a point not to shift or change your routine with your kids too drastically.
Even when working around a new person, your children are more likely to settle into the change faster if they are still doing the same things they’re used to doing day-to-day.
4. Encourage Them to Join Shared Activities
Kids from preschool age to teenagers tend to have opinions of their own. They might not be too keen on joining in on activities with someone new if they’re shy or otherwise unsure about the change.
Encourage your kids to include your student in normal family activities like you would any other member of the family or family friend.
Do things how you always would, just with an extra player on the game board or seat at the table.
When doing things that involve your student’s culture and traditions, answer all of your child’s questions about how it works or, better yet, allow your international student to explain it to them in their own words.
5. Check-In With Them Regularly
Big changes can be rough on everyone involved.
Even if your kids don’t seem outwardly affected by your homestay arrangements, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open at all times.
Check in with them on a regular basis to ensure they don’t have any questions or concerns about anything and that they’re adjusting okay.
It may take some time to get everyone on board and happily coexisting, but with plenty of communication, encouragement, and patience, you can all enjoy this homestay adventure together.