Hosting an international student can be a great way for you and your family to connect with the world at large while fostering an understanding of other cultures and countries that you may not previously have had. Whether you want to learn a new language, or simply hear about what it’s like to live in another country, hosting foreign students can be an excellent way to achieve this, and not only that, the same benefits are extended to the student you host so that they, too, can come away with an understanding of another culture.
With companies like GP Homestay offering management of exchange programs, it’s easier than ever to connect to the world by hosting foreign students. However, before settling on a company to facilitate your hosting experience, it’s important to know what you’re looking for, and how the hosting process works. Obviously, no one wants to come away with a bad cross-cultural experience, and that’s why agencies are there to help. Good agencies offer a full suite of services for both the international student and the host family in order to ensure that everyone has a good experience.
A good hosting agency will provide many different services so that its students and families always be secure. This involves giving a background check to all families who have applied to be a host family so that no international student is entering a household unsuitable to properly house them while they study, whether that be financially or mentally. Host families are also matched with students based on a number of factors, including personality and lifestyle, so that living together will not be an annoyance to either party. It’s very similar to the way that dormitory roommates are paired on university campuses.
Both the international student and the host should also be properly trained and oriented before left alone to live together. This helps establish the best practices for the experience so that both student and family know what to expect going forward. It can also help demystify the experience for some, and take away some of the awkwardness of the situation. Following initial training, good hosting agencies also provide check-ins for both the student and the family. These should be held separately to alleviate any pressure for a student or host to lie about their experience.
Both host and student should also be able to call an agency for an emergency, and the agency should send regular reports on the student’s wellbeing to their family. This way, no one is in danger, and parents back home do not have to worry. Hosting companies also often offer great networking events for students and families so that long-term connections can be established for all parties. Anyone who hosts or has been hosted can often say that they are still friends with their alternative family, and a good hosting agency will provide all of the above and more so that everyone has the best possible cross-cultural experience.