Every year, nearly one million students travel to the United States to study abroad. Many of these students will stay at universities and campuses or work through the summer. A large percentage of them will stay with a host family. Being a host family for an international student is a phenomenal experience. You create bonds that will last forever, and you give a young person an opportunity for an adventure at the same time.
Ayusa is dedicated to helping pair gracious host families with a student who wants to travel abroad. This is an experience that the student and the family will hold dear for the rest of their lives. Let us help you connect!
In this guide, we will share all the expectations and details you need about becoming a host family for international students, like:
- What it means to be a host family for international students
- Top benefits of becoming a host family for an international student
- How to become a host family for an international student
- Fun activities to enjoy with your host student
What Does It Mean to Be a Host Family for International Students?
One family in Colorado describes hosting an international student as “bringing culture to their doorstep.” These young people want to experience your culture, and they also help you experience different cultures. Sharing cultural differences creates quality experiences that will enrich the time spent between you and your international student.
If you’re curious about what is required to be a host family, it’s pretty simple. These are the basic expectations:
- Provide meals for the hosted student
- Provide a room and accommodations for the student
- Provide a supportive environment
- Help the student adapt to a new country and culture
- Engage in experiences and community events together
- Offer a safe and secure location for the student to call home
You’re taking this student in as if they were a member of your family. You will provide them with safety, security, a room, and meals, and in return, you will have a rewarding experience with your international student.
There are several different ways to assist with hosting international students. While our focus for this guide is on becoming a host family for an international student, it’s important to understand there are other ways to help.
Here is a quick overview:
You host on a voluntary basis. The program that you host through will be there to answer questions or help you work through any challenges, such as dealing with medical needs. You will be able to care for your international student as needed, and Ayusa will always be here to help.
Hosting an international student is an opportunity to bring together varying cultures, backgrounds, and languages into one common household. Open your home and your hearts for your new family member.
Top Benefits of Becoming a Host Family for International Students
Students come from all over the world to be a part of these programs. In the 2021-22 school year, the largest percentage of study abroad students came from China and India. There were also thousands of students from countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, and more.
These students are certainly brave, jetting off from the homes they have known their entire lives and coming to a brand-new country. They will have much to learn in terms of culture and experiences, and so will you.
The benefits of hosting a foreign exchange student will make a lasting impression on you as the host, while also touching that student’s life in memorable ways.
These are the top benefits of being a host family for international students:
- Learn new things
- Make a difference in someone’s life
- Add a new family member
- Enhance cultural awareness
Learn New Things
You will learn a lot of new things about your exchange student’s culture and interests, and you will also learn a lot about welcoming a new family member into your home.
Have you ever helped a student enroll in high school or college? Have you ever had a role in raising a teenager? You may have had experience as a parent, but even if you did, this will likely still come with a learning curve.
You’re going to learn new ways to engage with others, and ways to provide an experience for your student. The options for learning are endless if you keep an open mind.
Make a Difference
This is your opportunity to make a difference in the life of a young person. You won’t be their legal guardian, but they are going to look to you for a safe space and a positive influence. You’re going to be their beacon in a foreign land, and you’re going to make a difference in their lives in many ways.
Your international student will also make a difference in your life. Being a host family for an international student is a rewarding experience for both sides. Opening your home presents an opportunity for students who dream of being a part of study abroad programs. The connecting link to make that happen is you and your family.
You may not know yet how you can impact a student’s life, but opening your home is going to make a difference. It begins with providing them this opportunity.
Add a New Family Member
You are a host family for an international student for just one year. You can certainly host again, but you get a limited time with each student. In that time, you will find that you build bonds that can last a lifetime.
Think about it like this. The student you are hosting will come to stay in your home. They will eat meals with you and live life with you over the course of the program. They’re going to become a member of your family, and the relationships that you create will be much like family relationships.
Some people host just one time, but there are others out there who host year after year. One of our favorite stories is from a family that has hosted for more than 35 years. Throughout that time, they’ve welcomed more than 100 students into their home. In doing so, they’ve met people from many countries across the globe.
This has allowed them to make new memories and grow their family significantly. All it takes is one time hosting a student to get hooked on the experience!
Companies like Ayusa work hard to pair together families and students that will be a great match. You get a say in certain elements, and so do the students. Will everything be 100% perfect all the time? Maybe not. Will the experience of welcoming a new member into your home be worth it? Absolutely!
It’s a beautiful experience.
Develop Enhanced Cultural Awareness
You’re going to learn a lot about a new culture that you may not be familiar with. You’re going to welcome a student into a new culture that they are not familiar with. And both of you are going to work together to build cultural bridges in your community.
Exchange students come from all over the world. America is a diverse country, but many people have minimal exposure to a diverse array of cultures. Hosting an exchange student will provide you with an upfront encounter with another culture. It’s an opportunity to be more aware and learn so much!
Being a host family for an international student is a great way to develop your own cultural awareness. You will have the opportunity to engage with others and help develop their awareness as well. And, your student is going to expand their own cultural knowledge while they are here.
Make sure you help your international student experience as much as possible while they are here.
How to Become a Host Family for an International Student
If the idea of hosting a foreign exchange student appeals to you, it’s time to start looking at the process. Every experience may be slightly different, but the process and requirements to get approval and be paired with a student are the same through Ayusa.
Follow these steps to get started:
- Comply with the necessary requirements
- Work with an Ayusa representative
- Complete the application process
- Get paired with a student
- Enjoy the adventure!
Comply with Necessary Requirements
Before you get started, understanding the requirements is a necessary step. You will be providing a safe place for your student to stay for the entirety of their program. This may be for a school year term, or it could just be for a semester.
These are the requirements that you need to be able to provide for your international student:
- Sleeping and space accommodations
- A ride or access to transportation
- A welcoming home that is safe and supportive
There are some requirements from Ayusa as far as who can host, including being 25 years of age or older, any home that can provide a safe, supportive environment— whether married, single, young, or empty-nesters— has the opportunity to host a student if they are willing and able.
Work with an Ayusa Representative
You aren’t expected to navigate the process on your own. When you work with an Ayusa representative, they will help you go through the application, provide any necessary documents and details, and get matched with a student.
You are paired with a trained community representative who works with your family throughout the entire program. They will be your regular contact once you apply and when your international student arrives.
This representative checks in with you and the student on a monthly basis, and can offer support or advice should it be needed. In addition, they stay in contact with the school to evaluate how your student is doing.
Complete the Application Process
If you’re interested in applying to be a host family for an international student, you can get more info and start the application process online. Once you fill out the online form, you will immediately be paired with a team member to walk you through the steps.
The application process will require you to answer some basic questions and share details about your household and family. This is the starting point to determine whether hosting is a good fit.
The representative you work with will help you complete the application and answer any questions you may have along the way.
Get Paired with a Student
We want your family and your international student to both have a great experience. You can look for matches that you feel will fit your family, and the student also has a say.
Typically, the representative will have an approved list of students for you so that you can be paired with someone who has similar interests or activities to your family. There may be new things to integrate into the home, because the goal is to ensure the fit will be a good one for everyone.
Your international student will soon become part of your family.
The Adventure Begins
Once you are approved as an international student host family and paired with a student, it’s time to start your wonderful adventure. Prepare your home to welcome your student. Ensure you have a comfortable space that they can use as their bedroom, a room to escape to for privacy, and an area for studying as needed.
You will work with Ayusa to connect with the student and gather the details about when they will be arriving.
This is the beginning of an adventure. Make the most of the time that you will have with your international student and enjoy the experience. You’re going to make a lasting impact on the life of a young person. Chances are, they are also going to make a lasting impact on you.
Fun Activities to Enjoy with Your Host Student
As you plan and prepare to be a host family for an international student, consider the experience that you want them to have. They are coming to a new country, and they will want to experience memorable things while they are here.
Consider planning some of these fun things to do with your foreign exchange student:
- Spend some time in nature
- Enjoy a movie theater experience
- Try attending events (sports or community events)
- Introduce them to a variety of foods
- Take them shopping
- Go to the zoo
- Enjoy fun activities like laser tag, arcades, bowling, golfing, etc.
- Have a family game night
- See tourist sites
- Have fun together
Are there things nearby that you might think are touristy? Remember that this is the student’s first time here, so give them the tourist experience.
Plan some events and activities based on interests and hobbies. You can use this table for some basic inspiration.
Rely on Ayusa to Help Create Your Experience
Being a host family for international students is incredibly rewarding. There are benefits for you and the student. Your life will be forever changed when you open your heart and your home to provide a student with this precious opportunity. Take advantage of the adventure and have some fun! Engage with the community, learn new things, and explore the world through new eyes.
What are you waiting for? Reach out to us today to get started.