Anyone ever hosted a foreign exchange student?


We are planning on hosting a foreign exchange student this January. First we have to see if the school district we live in will accept this (prayers requested). If that works out he will be here in a few months and stay until June.
Has anyone else ever done this? While we are all excited, part of me is nervous. We are not a well off family, live in a simple house (that could use some work), and have other children. I am sort of afraid we may not be what they were expecting. Add that to the fact that my husband works out of state, so I am basically a single mom 95% of the time (I don’t work, I am a student with a flexible schedule) and now I am nervous. I know they say that the kids just want to be part of an American family, but I worry that the child may be bored out here in the boonies.
So anyone who has any experience, advice would be helpful.
Thanks in advance.


I have never hosted an exchagestudent but I have been an exhangestudent myself.
As an immature 17 year old I went to a country far away for one year… I lived with three different host families.
I’ll give you some personal ideas. What was most important to me… I guess is the same as for every teenager: to be understood and respected … I appreciated those hosts that were like friends to me and loathed the ones that were authoritarian (where I come from young people are very autonomous and given much freedom and space). Typically teenager I guess… :slight_smile: the practical side of it: I lived with both poor people and some of the richest folkes in the city and it had no impact on my happiness… the people is what matters. Also I thought it most wonderful when there were other kids in the home… but the most important figures… was the host mom and the friends at school:)
I hope everything will go well for you… just make the kid feel welcome and talk with him…
Jesus bless you :slight_smile:
That was my experience.


My cousin was an exchange student in USA (then got scholarships all the way to MA, got married, living in Chicago).

I don’t think many teens around the world are all that interested in/impressed by material wealth. The only ‘material’ circumstance that bothered my cousin was the location - coming from Belgrade, a historical city of 2 million, it was difficult for him to suddenly find himself stranded in the middle of a cornfield!

But what he most remembers is how wonderful the family was and what he most appreciated was having a ‘brother’ there - a kid his own age with the same taste in music. :slight_smile:


Paradoxy… how did your cousin get scolarships… was it due to academic exellency or what?
I have a dream my self but have no money to make it happen… and I am just an average student … any advice would be good. You can PM me if you want.


Like GraceDK, I’m an exchange student - an American studying in Spain.

Hosting a foreign student will be a a blessing and a challenge for all parties involved, and it will vary based on where your student is from. I think the one comment that I can make is that if you have children of your own, don’t treat the exchange student any better than you treat them. The visitor won’t truly feel welcome if s/he is clearly treated as a guest. (not big chores - but making one’s bed, helping to clear the table, picking up bikes/yard toys isn’t unreasonable)

And be prepared for some culture shock - even if the exchange student comes from a wealthy family, the amount if “stuff” that Americans have may seem overwhelming! Also, if s/he comes from a more urban area and can take public transport everywhere, living in the country might take a bit of adjusting. In the situation where your visitor is still learning English (and you don’t speak his 1st language) it might be nice to learn a few phrases in his other language, and perhaps try to locate someone in the community who also speaks his language, just in case any emergency situations arise…

I hope everything works out for you! Remember, there’s no such thing as a “typical American family” any more, so things should be fine if you are warm and welcoming!


Yes. Straight A’s and he was better at some subjects than the teachers. :smiley:

I do believe there are other ways to get scholarships, but it is very difficult to get one for the first year of college, as I’m told.


how did your cousin get scolarships… was it due to academic exellency or what?

There are lots of scholarships out there. You don’t always have to be a straight A student to get them. On the Youth for Understanding web site they have a list of some scholarships and it is loooong. Also I don’t know about all colleges, but I attend UC and they have many study abroad opportunities, and a fair amount of scholoarships available. Don’t give up hope! My 14yo son is saving with us for his hoped for trip in 2 years. He has already purchased his own passport, and has a bit of money and bonds he can cash in when the time comes. We will definantly be applying for some financial aid.

Thanks for the advice and support. The young man we have chosen is from Chile, he speaks at least some english, and we speak spanish. We thought it would be a good idea to host someone who’s language we could understand, at least the first time.

I should find out today what the school district says. Keeping my fingers crossed, I don’t know anything about the district we live in. I haven’t heard a whole lot of positive things about it. We are all praying that it works out. If the school agrees the only thing left to do is a criminal background check. As neither dh or I have any kind of criminal history it shouldn’t be a problem, and our references have already been checked. I hate waiting, but am sure whatever the outcome, it will be as God plans.


what does UC stand for? :slight_smile:
thanks for your encouraging words…
I am just really without money and my parents are not going to help me. … I’ve always been spoiled and a dreamer too… But maybe I’ll make it… against all odds… Its strange but I believe in it.


When I was young, our family hosted girls from France about 16-18 years old for a month through a summer exchange program (NACEL). This was easiest on our family, and they got to come to the States and not be away from home so long. If you are just trying this out, and aren’t sure you wish to do this for an entire year, this might be the way to get your feet wet.

We learned a lot from them and had a great time :slight_smile:


When we had children in school we hosted a girl from France for the academic year, a boy from France and a boy from Germany for a summer, a Japanese university graduate for a couple of months before he enrolled for an advanced degree at the University of Chicago and a very young Japanese businessman who was part of a group travelling through the U.S. on an educational trip.

Every one of these experiences was excellent. For the most part we didn’t make special arrangements or trip, but just lived normally. The French girl was very sweet and the kids loved her. The French boy was the son of a judge in Paris and was the model of good behavior. The German boy came from a rich family, spoke excellent, colloquial English from spending a lot of time in England and the U.S. before he came to us. However, he was a little wild. Among other things he confided in me about some unsocial activity he had been involved in at home and asked whether he should confess to the police. He also smoked cigarettes although he said on the forms he did not, and he pretended to be excellent in every sport including fishing, but he wasn’t. It was hilarious to watch him try to use a spinning rod and reel.

The Japanese were the most polite and disciplined, but of course they were older. They were deferential without being obsequious and spent hours questioning me about various social, political and legal aspects of the United States.

Do not discount how much your student will learn. Do not worry about living in the boondocks. The world of things you take for granted may be new to him. I have been an exchange student myself and there is more to learn anywhere than you can possible assimilate in a year.

I have nothing but good memories of those days. Good luck.


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