Why host? Pros & cons of being a host family
So you are thinking of becoming a host Family. Maybe a friend of yours is hosting a student, possibly your kids met an Exchange Student at school and asked if they could do this, or maybe you remember the friends you made of Exchange Students when you were in school. No matter the reason why, there are many things to consider before taking that plunge!
Hosting an Exchange Student can be the most rewarding experience in the world. Bringing an Exchange Student into your home can have its pros and cons. I am going to start with the cons as I like to end on the happier notes.
Cons of Hosting an Exchange Student
Now I am not wanting to scare you here. Everything in life has its good and bad. I just want you to know what to expect going in.. Good suprises are always nice but no one likes a bad suprise.
Teenagers, enough said right?
I am just kidding. But teenagers in general can be complicated. Then you take in the fact there is a language barrier, and the fact they may have been raised with a different set of values. This can be difficult at times, and you will want to pull your hair out. Just take a deep breath and communicate. They may not know you are upset.
They were raised with a different set of values. Now even here we were all raised differently. This is no different in other countries. There could be times where your student was raised not having to pick up after themselves, to check in when they are out with friends. Make sure when your student arrives you go over your house rules and your expectations and plan on repeating them at least one more time through out the year. Usually about halfway through when they really get comfortable in your home.
As with every child you have there is always an added cost. This is no different here. Yes, they pay to get there, and pay for their medical and any extras likes clothes and toiletries. There are still many other costs. Does your family like to go out to eat or to the movies? Well you now have an extra person to pay for. Remember this student has come to live with and be a part of your family.
Food at home is another cost. With every program I have seen you have to provide food for breakfast and dinner as well as lunch if the student chooses not to pay for hot lunch at school.
Why would this be a con right? Well you have spent anywhere from 6-12 months with this student. You made them a part of your family, and now they are leaving. Going back to their country. You question whether or not they will remember you, will they keep in touch? Did they enjoy their time with you? And if you have other children they will be often even more upset. Especially younger children. This seperation at the end can be very difficult and often make you wonder if it was worth it to feel so sad at the end. I can guarntee it is worth it!
Pros of Hosting an Exchange Student
There are so many wonderful things about hosting. So I will try and keep this short and sweet.
- The chance to help a Student experience life in another country and culture. This is an amazing journey. They will have many questions about why you do things. They will want to try new activities and learn about your traditions. This is also an excellent chance to learn about their country and culture as well.
- The chance to gain a son/daughter. This experience will give you the chance to bond with a child in a way you never expected! Many will have so much gratitude for the opportunity you have given them. You will share many laughs along the way and make memories to last a life time. Often you will remain in contact long after they return home, and if you are really lucky you will get to see them again!
- You help your children to learn and grow. If you already have children this is a great "real in your face" way to help them learn about another country and culture! They will have a Host Sibling right there! Kids are great at asking questions and often you will learn through their questions. The bond children make no matter the age is a wonderful journey to watch!
- Attachment. Yes this is a pro and con. While it is hard to let go at the end, it is such a great feeling to know you have made this special bond with this student. You will make plans to email and call eac hother. Maybe they will want to come back for college, or to come back in a couple years to see you again. Maybe you will plan a trip to their country to see them. While the goodbye is heartbreaking, the warmth in your heart towards him/her is amazing! You have spent many months getting to know this person and the bond is deep.
Many of the pros and cons really go hand in hand. It is up to you how you choose to handle each situation. The key to an amazing experience is communication. Neither you nor your student are mind readers. If you need help opening the lines of communication please contact your local representive. That is their job. They want you and the student to have a wonderful experience. You have the chance to fullfil the dream of a teenager, the chance to live life as a student in another country, the chance to learn about another culture and to experience new traditions. It is an experience like no other!
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