Using family mealtimes to get to know each

Mealtime is an important part of American culture and we encourage you to set aside time each week to eat as a family to help your student adjust to your home. Planning meals with your exchange student begins with a conversation.

Trying new foods

Food can be a great cultural unifier between an exchange student and a host family. It’s unlikely that your student has tried typical American treats like root beer, Pop Tarts, Coke floats or s'mores! Ask them what foods they hope to try while on exchange and think of a few local “must-haves” they should try. Hit the grocery store together to purchase these items.


We also encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try new foods too! Ask your student about their favorite foods from their home country and see if they'd be willing to help prepare a traditional meal. This is a great opportunity to learn more about their culture.

Additional food

When your student wants specialty food items beyond what you provide, make sure to discuss how they will pay for the food, where they can find those items and how you may be able to help with transportation to and from the store. If your student purchases personal food items, be sure to ask permission before eating or using them.

“There were groceries on Enjung’s shopping list that our family would like to try, too! My wife and I decided to budget $30 a month on ingredients for traditional Korean meals we could eat together. We knew Enjung would enjoy helping us prepare food and introducing us to her favorite dishes. There were other items on her list that we weren’t so excited to try, and we came up with a plan for her to purchase those foods on her own. That system worked out well for us.”

— Ryan, host dad

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.

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© EF Education First 2011-2021. EF High School Exchange Year is operated by EF Educational Foundation for Foreign Study, a non-profit corporation designated by the U.S. Department of State to operate a J-1 student exchange program. Note: Featured photo/videos do not include prospective students, and are representative of program participants.