STUDENT ADJUSTMENT CYCLE AND HOW THE HOST FAMILY CAN HELP

Arrival and First Days

The Host Family feels:

  • Excited about the new
    experience.
  • Pleased to be showing the
    student everything.
  • That their privacy may change.
  • Anxious about another teenager in the house and what that means.

The Host Family should:

  • Communicate often with the student.
  • Try not to overwhelm them with too much the first few days.
  • Encourage the student to ask questions and use their dictionary.
  • SPEAK SLOWLY!

Honeymoon Days

The Host Family feels:

  • That everything is going so well.
  • That the student needs to make different/more friends.
  • The student is doing so well and everything is perfect. 
  • That the student is on a
    pedestal.

The Host Family should:

  • Encourage the student to join clubs and activities.
  • Arrange for activities to meet the student’s friends.
  • Talk to the student about his/her friends and cultural experiences and differences.
  • Avoid putting the student on a pedestal, it is too easy to fall off.

Culture Shock

The Host Family feels:

  • Hosting as a novelty is wearing off.
  • Host Children may resent the exchange student.
  • This may be different from the experience they anticipated.
  • That the student is spending
    too much time by themselves, on the phone, or on the computer.

The Host Family should:

  • Encourage the student to join clubs and participate in extracurricular activities in school.
  • Talk to the student about their friends and cultural differences.
  • Talk to the student about what
    the family feels.
  • Talk to the student about their
    feelings.

Feeling Dissatisfaction

The Host Family feels:

  • The halo effect (feeling
    everything is perfect) is gone.
  • The student and the exchange experience is seen more in the
    light of day to day behaviors.
  • Frustration at the “little things”

The Host Family should:

  • Watch for unresolved conflicts that could lead to more problems.
  • Address concerns with each other as soon as possible.
  • Contact your local coordinator
    with any concerns.

Making Adjustments

The Host Family feels:

  • Less responsible for the student’s comings and goings.
  • The student is more independent but still part of the family.

The Host Family should:

  • Encourage the student to cultivate her/his friendships and meet new friends.

Feeling Accepted

The Host Family feels:

  • That the student is relaxed with the family and is able to tease and joke with them.

The Host Family should:

  •  Help the student find ways to remember the exchange experience (scrapbooks, photo albums, videos, etc.)
  • Encourage the student to be thankful for the experience
  • Look for the student to become more social during this time.

Returning Home Anxiety

The Host Family feels:

  • Anxious about sending the
    student back home to her/his
    country
  • Uncertain whether the student
    will remember the family upon
    her/his return
  • An urge to capture every
    moment left with the student
    before departure
  • Jealous of the time others
    demand of the student away
    from the family
  • Sad because they will miss the
    student when she or he leaves

The Host Family should:

  • Set aside time to talk about all
    the student’s feelings
  • Assure the student that all of
    the feelings are normal in this
    situation
  • Reassure the student that
    leaving does not mean
    “goodbye”
  • Plan out your future
    communications with your
    student
  • Call your local coordinator and
    talk about it

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