February 14, 2024
Activities and Tips

Should I Host a Foreign Exchange Student? 12 Benefits of Hosting

Student smiling at her graduation day

Did you know that over 1 million international students are currently living and studying in the USA? By hosting one of these students, you can provide a safe space for them to excel academically and integrate into the community. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg — hosting a student can bring you so much more! If you’ve found yourself wondering, “Why should I host a foreign exchange student?”, this article will help you discover 12 incredible hosting benefits for you, your community, your family, and your exchange student. 

At Ayusa, it’s our mission to provide safe, loving homes for international students across the US. We connect students to our vast network of host families and provide support for both students and hosts along the way. If you’re ready to learn more about becoming an Ayusa host family, start your application here!

In the meantime, join us as we discuss: 

  1. What hosting an exchange student involves
  2. 12 reasons to host an international student
  3. What support Ayusa provides for host families
  4. How to host a student with Ayusa

We’ll help you determine whether hosting is right for you, and explain the resources and assistance Ayusa offers to all our international exchange students and host families. 

What Does Hosting Involve?

Hosting an exchange student involves a lot more than simply opening your home to an international student. If you’re deciding whether or not you should host a foreign exchange student, understanding what’s involved is the first step. Let’s explore what being a host family requires, including: 

  1. Housing your host student
  2. Supporting your host student
  3. The other aspects of hosting
  4. Ayusa’s hosting requirements

If you can meet these requirements, there’s a good chance you’d make a great Ayusa host! 

Housing Your Host Student

One of the most important elements of joining a study abroad organization as a host is providing a nurturing, welcoming environment for your international student. While it’s not essential to give a student their own room, it is important to create a space where they can safely and comfortably feel like part of your family. 

Many prospective hosts think they need a large home and a lot of space to host a student in a study abroad program, but this isn’t the case at all. Most students’ needs are pretty simple — they just need a bed to sleep in, a desk to study at, and a seat at the dinner table where they can share stories and create new memories with you and your family. 

Supporting Your Host Student

Supporting your exchange student is every bit as important as housing them. International students are young, and although often adventurous, this can be the first time they’ve spent significant time away from their homes and families. Having a loving, caring host family can make the transition much smoother and help students adapt faster to life abroad. 

Becoming a host family for an international student is all about supporting your student through the highs and lows of living and studying abroad. Celebrate their wins, like joining a sports team or the school band, and be there for their more challenging moments like homesickness, experiencing holidays or milestones away from their family, and navigating language barriers. 

Other Aspects of Hosting

As well as housing and supporting students, there are a few other requirements for hosting a student. Hosts must be able to provide students with three nutritious meals a day, preferably shared together as a family with lots of laughter! 

When it comes to transport, you’re not required to act as a taxi driver for your exchange student. Most international students are perfectly happy to take public transport, ride with their new friends, or buy or borrow a bike to use throughout their stay. That said, it’s always nice to offer your student a ride if it’s convenient. 

Ayusa Hosting Requirements

As well as what’s outlined above, Ayusa requires that hosts be at least 25 years old. Other than that, there are no other formal requirements for hosting, and we’ve seen successful host families of all shapes and sizes over the years! 

Whether you have school-aged children, you’re single, you’re a grandparent or an empty nester, it doesn’t matter. As long as you can provide a supporting, loving, safe environment, there’s an exchange student out there who can’t wait to hear from you. 

Start your Ayusa hosting application today and give a young student the experience of a lifetime!

Why Should I Host a Foreign Exchange Student? 12 Reasons

Opening your home and heart to a host student doesn’t just benefit them. Your family, your community, and you can all reap the many rewards of hosting an exchange student. Here are 12 of the biggest benefits of hosting an international student: 

  1. Gaining exposure to a new culture
  2. Broadening your perspectives on global issues
  3. Learning a new language at home
  4. Improving your communication skills
  5. Creating lasting memories
  6. Discovering networking opportunities
  7. Increasing your empathy and understanding
  8. Developing patience and flexibility
  9. Creating a supportive home environment
  10. Helping your family foster a sense of inclusion
  11. Learning about different education systems
  12. Making a friend for life

Let’s explore each of these benefits in more detail, giving you plenty of reasons to start that Ayusa hosting application today! 

Gain Exposure to a New Culture

Becoming an international student host family gives you firsthand exposure to a new culture, offering a unique chance to immerse yourself in novel traditions, customs, and perspectives. Don’t miss the chance to engage in different rituals and celebrations from the student's native country. 

One of the best ways to experience a new culture is through food. Give your student the chance to showcase the diverse flavors and culinary traditions of their homeland — your taste buds will thank you! You can also celebrate a traditional holiday from the student's country together, incorporating customs, decorations, and festive foods. It’s a great way to both expand your cultural horizons and create cherished memories between you and your exchange student. 

Broaden Your Perspectives on Global Issues

It’s always refreshing to gain a new perspective on various international topics, and hosting a student in a study abroad program is a great opportunity for that. You’ll have the chance to engage in conversations about international politics, social issues, and global events, giving you a broader perspective on world affairs.

These conversations are also an opportunity to gain insights into how global issues impact individuals on a personal level, adding depth and context to your understanding of current events. For example, discussing environmental challenges with a student from a country deeply affected by such issues can offer a firsthand perspective, which is often easier to relate to and empathize with.

Learn a New Language at Home

Hosting a high school exchange student from a non-English speaking country provides a unique opportunity for language immersion, turning your home into a dynamic language learning environment for your whole family! You’ll have the chance to engage in daily conversations, benefiting both you and your international student.

This two-way exchange enhances communication skills for everyone involved. Learning common phrases and even swapping some slang is a great way to bond with your student and enhance your language skills at the same time. 

Learning foreign languages isn’t always a priority in the US education system compared to other countries. If you have your own kids at home, a foreign exchange student is a fun and engaging way to introduce them to language studies. 

Improve Your Communication Skills

Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful hosting. Welcoming a student into your home encourages the development of strong communication skills for everyone in your household. You’ll have the opportunity to navigate cultural nuances and differences in communication styles, enhancing your ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. 

Create Lasting Memories

Your hosting experience will last between five and 10 months, but the memories you create throughout that time will last much longer. You’ll be amazed by how many memories you make through family outings, celebrations, and everyday activities. 

Do your best to document your hosting journey through photos and create a scrapbook or digital album that captures the essence of your time together. Host families often find that their student’s academic year in America flies by, so make sure you take plenty of photos and record the highlights of your time together. 

Discover Networking Opportunities

Hosting an exchange student expands your social network by introducing you to the student's friends and family. It’s easy to keep in touch with your exchange student and their family in the era of social media, and you might even like to plan an adventure to their part of the world after your hosting experience wraps up. 

You can also explore opportunities through Ayusa to connect with other host families, creating a support network of like-minded individuals who are all passionate about cultural exchange. We’re more than happy to introduce you to other host families in your area! 

Increase Your Empathy and Understanding

Hosting a foreign exchange student from a different cultural background cultivates empathy and a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by individuals worldwide. When you host an exchange student, you’ll learn how to navigate cultural differences with sensitivity. You and your family can listen to the student's personal stories and challenges, building empathy and broadening your understanding of diverse life experiences.

Develop Patience and Flexibility

At times, hosting a student may require patience and flexibility, turning your hosting experience into an opportunity for personal growth. Language barriers, changes to your normal routine, and navigating cultural differences may be testing at times, but also help to improve your patience and flexibility. These are both invaluable skills for your personal and professional success. 

Create a Supportive Home Environment

Hosting offers the chance to create a supportive and nurturing environment in your home that fosters personal growth and a sense of belonging as your student studies abroad in the US. Celebrate your exchange student's achievements, whether academic, artistic, or personal. This encouragement creates a positive and affirming atmosphere that your whole family can get behind.

Help Your Family Foster a Sense of Inclusion

Understanding how to be inclusive, and practicing inclusivity, are becoming increasingly important. UNICEF estimates that there are nearly 240 million children with disabilities around the world, and learning how to work alongside those with disabilities or from different backgrounds is critical in today’s interconnected world. 

Hosting an international student is a great chance for you and your family to practice inclusion. Consider incorporating the student's cultural traditions into your family celebrations or allowing them to share their customs during special occasions. This inclusive approach enhances family unity and is a valuable life lesson for every member of your family. 

Learn About Different Education Systems

As your exchange student becomes accustomed to life at a US school, they’ll be able to open your eyes to the similarities and differences of the education system in their home country. This helps you gain a deeper understanding of education practices around the world, which in turn broadens your worldview and makes it easier to interact and engage with people of all backgrounds and cultures. 

Make a Friend for Life

Most importantly, hosting an exchange student brings a new friendship into your life that spans oceans and continents. Most host families and their exchange students form extremely strong bonds, still sharing life updates, milestones, and experiences years later. Some even have the opportunity to see each other again, reconnecting and forging new memories. 

What Support Does Ayusa Provide Host Families?

At Ayusa, we know that hosting an exchange student is a big commitment. We’re with you every step of the way to provide all the support and assistance you and your family need as you embark on this unique journey. Let’s break down what makes Ayusa one of the best student exchange programs for host families, including: 

  • The importance of our Community Representatives 
  • Pre-arrival support offered by Ayusa
  • Support during the program

Ayusa’s top-level support helps host families enjoy every benefit that hosting a student brings. It’s also a big reason why so many Ayusa host families come back to our exchange student program again and again! 

Ayusa’s Community Representatives

At Ayusa, our Community Representatives (CRs) form the backbone of our program. These dedicated individuals are there to support host families and exchange students every step of the way. Our CRs: 

  • Help secure placements for exchange students in local schools
  • Screen and qualify prospective host families 
  • Respond to any questions you have about the hosting process
  • Maintain close contact with host families before, during, and after the hosting period
  • Conduct monthly check-ins and periodic in-person visits with students and host families 
  • Act as a backup host in the case of an emergency

When you host an Ayusa exchange student, you’re never on your own! Our dedicated Community Representatives are with you every step of the way, ensuring you, your family, and the student have everything they need for an incredible, unforgettable experience. 

Pre-Arrival Support

Once your CR has decided you’re a good fit for hosting a student, they can work with you to find the perfect exchange student. Based on your preferences, we’ll connect you with a student who’s right for you and your family. As you prepare to welcome them into your home, we’ll provide resources and answer any questions you have about the program or your responsibilities. 

Support During the Program

Once your student arrives, we’ll check in regularly with you (and their school) to ensure everything is going well. When you work with one of the best study abroad programs in Ayusa, your CR will always just be a phone call away for anything you or your student needs. They’ll conduct monthly progress reports and perform one in-person check-in per semester.  

How to Host a Student With Ayusa

Does hosting an exchange student sound like a great opportunity for you and your family? Here’s how to take the next steps to becoming an Ayusa host family:

  • Complete an application 
  • Meet with us
  • Find your student 
  • Prepare your home

Let’s take a closer look at how you can kickstart your hosting journey with Ayusa.  

Complete an Application 

The first step to becoming an Ayusa host family is to complete an application here. All you need to do is create an account and give us some basic information. Then, you’ll be able to view available exchange students and start thinking about the type of student that would be the best fit for you and your family. 

Meet With Us

Once we’ve received your application, we’ll set up a meeting for you with a Community Representative. The CR will make sure you have everything you need to be a successful host family, check that you meet the requirements to host a foreign exchange student, and answer all your questions about the program. 

Find the Right Student

Once your hosting application is approved, you can work with your CR to find a student who suits you and your family. Some of our students are highly active, some are quiet, some want to live in the city, while others prefer the suburbs. Whatever type of student you’re looking for, we’re bound to have the perfect fit just waiting to join your family! 

Prepare Your Home!

There isn’t too much you need to do to prepare for hosting foreign exchange students. Make sure you have a space carved out in your home for them, and feel free to decorate it as a welcome surprise! Other than that, it’s simply a matter of waiting patiently for your student to arrive and making sure they have what they need to settle in. 

Should I Host a Foreign Exchange Student With Ayusa? YES!

As you can see, the benefits are abundant when hosting an exchange student! It can open your eyes to the world around you, improve your patience and flexibility, and give you an incredible opportunity to create amazing memories with a very special student. 

If you’re ready to experience the life-changing act of becoming a host, start your Ayusa application today. We can’t wait to hear from you and help you discover the incredible benefits of hosting for yourself!

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