Your teen is about to embark on the experience of a lifetime: A semester spent studying abroad as an exchange student. You’ve likely been busy getting his travel documents in order, deciding what to pack, and making all those last-minute preparations—maybe even so busy that you’ve forgotten about the foreign exchange student your teen is, you know, exchanging places with!
When you’ve got a foreign exchange student on the way, keep these tips in mind while making preparations for an exciting time hosting.
No matter where your foreign exchange student is coming from, he’s bound to experience culture shock once he arrives in your home. Although he’ll want to experience the best food the area has to offer, one of the best ways to alleviate some of the feelings of being a stranger in a strange place is through familiar food. Before your student arrives, do a bit of research and locate some of the traditional foods from his home country.
Most towns and cities have small, ethnic grocery stores where you can find hometown foods for your house guest. If you have your student’s email address, ask him what he likes and try to find those particular items. Having a selection of familiar snacks and treats on hand will go a long way toward making him feel at home.
If possible, let your exchange student have his own bedroom. The experience of living in a brand new country—in someone else’s home—can feel overwhelming, and he’ll appreciate having his own space where he can “escape” if he needs to. Clear out drawers and closet space so your student can settle in, feel welcome and create a place where he truly feels at home.
Stay safe and healthy
Though no one likes to imagine the worst, illness and injuries do happen, and it’s best to prepare ahead of time. Whether it’s a simple case of the common cold or a broken bone, your student will need access to medical care. One of the best ways to ensure he gets the health care coverage he needs is with F1 visa insurance, a specially designed policy for foreign students attending school full-time in the United States.
A full schedule
Your foreign exchange student will want to experience what it’s like to live in the U.S., so plan out some fun activities ahead of time. If your family loves going to sporting events, get tickets to a baseball game or a soccer match. Take your exchange student to the movies, a play or a concert in order to expose him to American culture. Allow for some downtime, as the experience of being in a foreign country can be exhausting.
With a bit of planning, your time hosting a foreign exchange student will offer a number of benefits to both the student and to your family. Time spent with those from other countries offers a learning experience, as well as confirmation that we all have a lot in common. So keep your camera on hand and get ready to make some lasting memories.