Preparing to welcome an international Boarding School student into your home is an exciting time. You’ll be playing an important role in helping an international student adapt to life in the UK. We’ve put together the most important things for you to remember to help you to be a great host family for an international student.
Hosting is a rewarding experience, and you’ll get out of it what you put in! It’s a great opportunity to learn new things and form unique and valuable relationships. Many of our students have such a great time with their host families that they stay in contact for years after leaving.
For example, a number of previous international students send Christmas cards every year to their old host families. Last year, one of our hosts was invited to the wedding of a student she hosted almost 10 years ago! The relationships formed between host families and international students truly are lifelong and you are guaranteed to make some special memories.
One of the most rewarding things about hosting a foreign student is the opportunity to learn from each other. Hosting an international student allows you to embrace cultures that are different to yours. Whilst it’s important for your student to learn about life in the UK, you’ll be learning about life elsewhere too!
Some of our students from abroad like to cook their favourite meals from home for their host families to try – if you’re lucky you might get a taste of authentic Chinese, Mexican or French cuisine! By embracing your differences and trying new things, the experience will be rewarding for both you and your student.
Having an international student stay with you is a great excuse for you to get out and try something new or go somewhere you wouldn’t usually go. You could visit that café you walk past every day, or the museum you’ve been meaning to go to for ages. International students coming to the UK will be naturally keen to explore and visit many new places, so there’s no reason that you can’t enjoy new experiences too!
Your international boarding school student wants to gain a sense of life in the UK, so do involve them in regular family life. This can include baking or cooking with them, watching TV together, or taking the dog for a walk. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our guide which covers the best activities for hosts to do with international students.
When you welcome an international student into your home, it’s important to remember that they may not have been abroad on their own before.
Put yourself in the student’s shoes and imagine how you would feel if you went to stay with a host family in Japan. Even if you knew the language, there would be local customs, sayings, and different accents which you might not be used to, so don’t be surprised if the student doesn’t understand absolutely everything. Lots of our hosts have great fun showing off their local customs and explaining British slang to international students! As long as you are happy to answer their questions, they’ll quickly get the hang of things.
Now that we’ve covered all the exciting parts of hosting that you can look forward to, we’ve got some tips for when it comes to keeping everybody safe and happy.
Having fun is a central part of hosting, but ensuring that your foreign student is safe is the most important. If you are a current host or are going through the application process, you will know that we carry out background checks on our hosts. We do this to ensure that we are providing a safe environment for our international students.
We recommend that you set reasonable rules to help keep everyone safe. These might include having lights off by a certain time at night. Rules around curfews can also be helpful for older students. For example, students over 16 are likely to want some independence, so setting curfews around 10pm is an effective way to make sure everyone is safe and can get a good night’s rest.
Our international students come from all over the world, and their customs are therefore often different from the UK. What they may think of as perfectly normal may come across as rude, or vice versa. For example, most people in the UK have similar table manners, but foreign students might have different customs in their countries. Whilst we eat with cutlery, people in many countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, eat with their hands. Meanwhile, most families in Asia never wear their shoes in the house, but you might not mind that at all.
Etiquette differences don’t mean your student is trying to be rude, but this is why it’s important to establish rules from day one. This way the student will know what is and isn’t acceptable in your home. Being on the same page results in a positive experience for everyone.
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