Learning about the environment

Important Questions to Ask If You're Considering Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student

by Marsha Hudson

Hosting a foreign exchange student in your home through an organisation like the Global Booking Service can be a very enriching experience for your entire family; you can learn about a foreign culture from someone who knows it up-close and personal and even learn some foreign words and phrases. The student can also learn about your country from your family. If you're thinking of this type of arrangement for your home, note a few factors to consider and questions to ask so you know if it's the right choice for you.

Ask about room limitations

In many cases, you may be required to have a private room for the student, or you may be allowed to host two students of the same gender in the same room provided they have separate beds, desks and dressers. However, you are often not allowed to have a family member of your own share that room even if they are the same age and gender as the student. This will vary according to the company that you use to arrange the hosting, but don't assume you can put bunk beds in a room and have a whole group of students stay or think that they can simply sleep in your child's bedroom.

Ask about food

Students typically need to have meals while they stay with a family; this might mean just two meals per day, or it may mean two meals at home and a packed lunch along with appropriate snacks for night time. You might also ask about dietary restrictions for students from certain countries, as some students might not eat pork or beef or may have other specific requests you might be expected to accommodate.

Consider their schedule and rules

If you're thinking of hosting a foreign exchange student so that you can learn more about a foreign culture, you might consider their schedule and why they're staying with you; they're in your country to attend school, not act as your teacher! You might even ask the company that is making these arrangements about the schedule a student would keep so you know how much time they will actually spend with your family versus on their own.

You also need to ensure you're clear on what rules you can set down; for example, you may not have the authority to tell them that they must attend your church while staying in the home. You may also need to provide them with around-the-clock access to the home rather than setting a curfew for them.