Host Family Articles

Preparing For Your Return Home

become a volunteer host family!

Please let us know of any families you think have the willingness and resources to help one of our exchange students. Exchange students come from one of these countries:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Vietnam.

Say “Thank you” and “Good bye”

Saying “thank you” and “goodbye” are your most important things to do at this time of the year. Without them, none of this would be possible.

Soon you will prepare to leave the States and return to your native country, family, friends and lifestyle. We would like you to be prepared as you go into this final part of your American exchange experience. You and your host family may find this time difficult and/or different. It’s okay! In fact, it is quite normal. For example, what may have otherwise been a very positive exchange experience may become very sad for all participants if certain steps are not taken to ensure that this final stage is approached and handled with care and caution. Years of experience, and the personal heartbreak of saying good-bye to students we love has led us to design this orientation workbook to assist you during this phase. We urge you to use it!

Your coordinator has been trained to help you and your host family through this time. Begin now! Allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your emotions as you go.

Here’s to a successful completion of your ETC exchange experience!

Thank you for giving a semester or a year of your life to create global awareness and understanding between our two countries.

If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello!

Preparing For Your Return Home

Pre-departure anxiety

This can show up in many ways, with emotions you are feeling 
but don’t understand. Symptoms include:

  • Lack of tolerance/patience
  • Tension
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Withdrawal or feelings of isolation
  • And feeling:
    • Neglected
    • Ignored
    • Alone
    • Used

What to do?

Step 1: Recognizing that you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms is the first step!

Step 2: Acting on that recognition is the second step. Make a commitment to each other to deal with pre-departure anxiety openly, effectively – and now.

Step 3: Sit together and plan your last days as student and host family so you share the same expectations. 

It is important for the immediate family, including the student, to spend the last 24-48 hours together, without outside interruptions.

Step 4: Do something special – a late night dinner or breakfast together before leaving for the airport. Make it special and exclusive.

Say “Thank you” and “Good bye”

Saying “thank you” and “goodbye” are your most important things to do at this time of the year. Regardless of little difficulties that may have occurred during your program, leaving people with a pleasant memory of you is the true success of your program.

What to do?

Step 1: Say thank you and goodbye in person

Step 2: Give a small gift, perhaps from your country

Step 3: Write a personal note expressing your gratitude, and share your feelings for the individual (Each Host Family member, Teachers etc.)

Acknowledge your emotions

You have spent many months of your life in this experience. Invest a little more to ensure you have a lifetime of wonderful memories together. It will be beneficial for you to review your program together.

What to do?

Step 1: Review your American experience

Step 2: Share with your host family your feelings

Step 3: Discuss with your host family how you will continue your relationship after your departure

Re-entry into your home country 

When you left your natural family to embark on your American adventure, you knew you would return home at the end of the program. As you say good-bye to your host family, you do not know when you will see them again.

As you return to friends and family, you may find that you no longer “fit-in”. You look at things a little, or a lot, differently than you did before. You may even experience an identity crisis. You no longer belong with your host family and American friends and, even worse, you don’t seem to belong with your natural family and friends back home.

As you return home, it will be important for you to remember:

  • Time did not stop in your absence. Your friends have gone on with their lives in your absence.
  • It is YOU who has changed so much, not your friends.
  • Rules and expectations at home have not changed, even though you have lived by different rules and expectations for the past five or ten months.
  • Your friends will be interested in hearing about your American experience once. They will probably not want to hear about it over and over again. It may be a good idea to ask your friends to share what’s been happening in their lives over the past months, before you begin to share your story.
  • Friends and family will expect you to re-adapt to your culture quickly. They will expect to hear how much you missed them, not necessarily how great your new friends in the USA are.
  • Your family has definitely missed you while you studied in the USA. They have earned your thanks and appreciation and are eager to have their child back.
  • No one will completely understand or accept how you have changed.
  • Re-adapting to your native culture may be more difficult for you than it was to adapt to life in the United States!

Try to see yourself in each of the scenarios described above. You may also wish to discuss with your host family how you will act and be reacted to.

Departure overview and checklist

Preparing For Your Return Home

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