A Guide for Participants and Host Families

Six Simple Getting Started Tips

Welcoming an international college student is an exciting experience that thousands of host families and students enjoy every year. It is a time to share new cultures and develop strong bonds along the way. As you both begin this challenging adventure, don’t forget that two very different cultures are now merging into a family unit. What the family or the student may consider “obvious,” can be unfamiliar and foreign.

These Six Simple Tips will help create a happy and safe environment in the new home and community.

Make certain that the exchange student learns the new home address and cell phone numbers of family members as soon as possible. Families should assist the student in acquiring a viable cell phone for the USA.  Remember that this information should not be given out to anyone indiscriminately.
Take a walking tour of the neighborhood. Students will learn the surrounding streets and main roads by name and landmark. Determine some public places where assistance is available if the student is ever lost or in trouble.
As the exchange student makes new friends, the student should remember to discuss with the host family any plans to be out with friends. Families can be a great source of guidance and mentoring to the newly arrived student.  Students should continue to be aware of the surroundings and where they are going. Students should use caution and absolutely not accept rides from strangers.  It is the student’s responsibility to keep in close communication when his or her activities keep them away from home.
The student and the family need to act as a family unit in an age appropriate way for college students.  Students should be prepared to participate in some family activities and chores.  Students will appreciate feeling included, and families will appreciate being respected in their role of responsible adults.
Be sensitive to any differences in how different cultures perceive physical affection.  Families and cultures can vary widely in their comfort levels with showing affection.
Remember that there is a strong network of support in place, for both the participating student and the host family - including the local AFS Liaison, Volunteer Area Team Support Coordinator, and National Support staff.