Preparation is key: how to make sure your family is ready
Taking the time to connect with your exchange student before their arrival can help set the stage for a successful experience. Your student may also feel that same mix of excitement and nerves, so learning more about each other and discussing practical matters will put you both at ease as you begin to build a lasting connection.
Ways to connect
As a first step, we recommend sending an introductory email to your student. This is an exciting moment for them, as it’s the moment they have been waiting for, perhaps for months or even years. Keep in mind that teenagers may not check email as frequently as adults.
After that first email, you may want to connect with them on social media and introduce them to other family members. If you have neighbors or family friends who also attend the high school, consider connecting them with your student. That way, your student can have a few familiar faces on their first day of school.
Your student has only been given a brief overview of your family including your name, age, address, occupation, religion, hobbies, pets and community size as well as the letter you wrote in your application to host. Since you have read your student's complete profile, you know much more about them than they know about you! Take this opportunity to share more about each member of the family, your dynamic together, your community and anything you’re hoping to do as a family.
When reaching out to your student be sure to include:
Your family dynamic
- Why you decided to host
- Your family’s values, personality traits, interests, favorite foods and hobbies
Local area information
- What you love about life in your community
- The weather and seasons
- Any specific clothing they’ll need
- Information about the high school, such as the website, calendar of events, dress code, information on activities they can join and a list of classes they can take
- Your house rules: curfew hours, chores, transportation with your family, electronic use in the house, meal time, time with friends, taking care of pets, etc.
- Ways your student can be successful in your home
Your calendar of events
- Monthly activities and plans around the holidays
- Important dates, birthdays or functions they should know about
- Any large expenses your student may need to discuss with their parents ahead of time, such as vacations or other travel
Ask them about
- Their life back home
- The correct way to pronounce their name
- Their schedule and holiday traditions
- Their favorite foods and activities
- Which sports or activities they'd like to participate in
- Whether or not they've had all their required vaccines
If anything has changed about their preferences since they applied for the program
E.g., “I saw on your profile you said you like to play piano in your free time. Is that something you still enjoy? Would you like to play piano while on exchange?”
You can use this information to help your student feel welcomed upon arrival. Perhaps place something special in your student’s room!
Find the right exchange student for your family
Does your family have any hobbies or interests that you'd like to share with an exchange student? Are you looking to learn more about a particular region of the world? Consider some of these topics and start browsing student profiles today.