We understand that hosting a student isn’t easy. Based on years of experience, here are some of the useful tips that we often mention to host families who are hosting for the first time.
Some students may initially suffer from stress. Most families should expect an adjustment period. Let your coordinator know if your student is eating poorly or not communicating for more than 2 or 3 days, but do not panic. Culture shock is common; usually it will not last long. Culture shock, jet lag and language fatigue go together. They may involve exhaustion and a desire in the student to isolate him or herself. Some students may also be overwhelmed by the space of American homes.
Students from other cultures usually have had limited exposure to our types of food. We have found with our Asian students that they like noodles, rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, cooked vegetables and fresh fruit. European and Latin American students have had more exposure to our diet, but they also have their own food preferences and cooking styles. When your student arrives, talk to him or her about what sorts of foods he/she prefers. Remember, however, that they are here to experience American culture and to try new foods.
Pets may be a new experience for your student. Introduce your student to your pet by controlling the pet and observing your student’s reaction. Many people, including other Americans, do not appreciate dogs, for example, jumping on them or licking their hands and faces. Be sensitive to any anxieties or fears that the student displays. Respect boundaries that the student may wish to establish with your pet. Recognize that cultural differences and individual preferences exist.
Some of our exchange students may be allergic to dust or animal hair. Please check your student’s application and see if there is anything in your house that may bother him.
Emergency telephone numbers will be printed at the top of the name list which you will receive at the Host Family Orientation. It will include where to take students to the hospital if necessary. In an emergency, the NISE office or your Group Coordinator also has access to an interpreter 24 hours a day.
Students already have two to five years of English grammar and reading. However, when they first arrive, allow them time to hear and speak English. Write out your words if there is a problem. However, even if your student is shy at first, talk to him/her. We emphasize listening skills at the beginning of the program, and then speaking after that.
Note: “Hearing” another language is difficult and requires hard work. Some students have natural abilities in this area, while others don’t. Other problems sometimes arise because a student’s command of English isn’t good enough to use courtesy language, such as “may I” or “please”, as a regular part of the conversation.
Host families are encouraged to participate in certain program activities, including the Welcome and Farewell parties.
Students come here insured for medical emergencies and dental accidents only, e.g. falling and breaking a tooth or bone. Host families should not pay medical or dental bills! NISE will provide you with the appropriate information for payment of the hospital or physician. For routine medical/dental services, students know that they will have to pay. (Each student comes with an insurance card.)
The host family should let the Group Coordinator know where they’ll be if they travel for the weekend. As long as the Coordinator knows, it is permissible for students to spend extra days away from their home community; this might be a three-day trip to the Coast or to the mountains. Leave your phone number and address in case there is an emergency, and we need to contact you.