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Thinking of Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?

Don’t do it! Seriously though, many of you know we have hosted a German exchange student this past school year. We did not go into it with our eyes wide open, but instead, it seems with eyes sewn shut! We’ve had our ups and downs, things we would’ve done differently, but also nice surprises here and there of having a young teenager in the house. Honestly, it has been a positive experience and we have a cartload of stuff we can apply to our own kids when they get to be that age.

Be sure to keep these thoughts in mind when choosing and hosting your exchange student:

  • Pick a student with similar interests to your own. Don’t pick a student who is heavy into outdoor sports, thinking your bookworm family will changes its ways…you won’t and both of you will be unhappy in the end. Read the student letters and bios VERY carefully and look for clues of immaturity, dominance, chauvenism and possible (more noticeable and problematic) character flaws too. If there is something you absolutely don’t want to deal with, then pick another student.
  • Realize that a boy student is easier than a girl student, so if this is your first experience, I would certainly pick a boy. We all know teenagers, right? I am a girl myself, so I make no excuses in saying that a teenage girl is much more difficult to deal with than a boy…I’ve seen it myself and been told it over and over again by other parents.
  • You don’t necessarily have to have teenage children already in your household to host. We have two young boys and thought it would be nice for them to have a big brother. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way we would’ve liked. We have a very gregarious young man who loves to play soccer and be with his friends, so he rarely interacts with our boys. Be prepared for something like this happening and make up your mind ahead of time if this will disappoint you or not before you choose someone to share your life. Our program had another family with three young adopted children from China. They hosted a young man from China, hoping he could share his culture and his general being with those kids. Well, those kids were so unruly, and this boy was a professional piano player who tended to like things calm and orderly. It was not a good mix.
  • When they first arrive, don’t have a huge party. Your student will be exhausted. Some take many travel days to get here, depending on where they are coming from. Plus, they have to deal with time changes, cultural changes and just the change of being in a new place with absolute strangers and no familiar family in sight! Integrate them slowly. When you first meet them, ask them if they are hungry, take care of those needs, then go home and let them sleep. Let them take a few days to get adjusted. There will be time for a party next weekend (or whenever), as well as showing them around. Don’t give them too much to process the first few days.
  • Have basic toiletries on hand. Many don’t travel with much stuff and may be too embarrassed initially to say they need something. We always have a basket of toiletries and toothbrushes in our guest bathroom for all guests. Let them know they can help themselves. No need for them to ask!
  • Do show them where you keep basic stuff. Go ahead and give them a quick tour around the house after they arrive, just to show them the basics. Show them where the snacks are and where to put their dirty laundry. Tell them when mealtimes are. Later, let them empty the dishwasher and the trashcan…what better way to learn where everything goes? Make sure you tell them they are not a guest but part of the family, and then treat them accordingly.
  • Realize you may get some cultural resistance. Many of these kids come from cultures where moms do all the housework or dads say what goes. Let them know how you do things here. Remind them they are here on an exchange, and that to be a part of your family, they will do things the way you do things. Don’t listen to the excuse that I can’t make my bed because that is lady’s work…uhh uhhh…not here it ain’t!
  • Your water, electric and whatever bill will be higher. Most teenagers LOVE to shower. Our boy takes two or three long showers a day. Water in Florida is expensive. Just be sure to budget for these extra expenses or be prepared to teach them about conservation.
  • Your food bill will be higher. Teenagers eat….a lot. I also had to shop more often and buy snacks and things like that…teenagers like to eat pizzas and snack stuff rather than regular meals, although we do try to sit down as a family at least a few days a week and required this of our student too.
  • Figure out ahead of time how you will deal with situations and money. We decided beforehand, that whatever we spent money on with our kids, we spent it on our student too. If we went out to eat, to an amusement park, shopped for Christmas gifts, our student was treated as one of our children. For extra expenses, such as when he goes out with his friends on his own (which is almost all the time…kids love to go out to eat and spend money) and clothing and other knick knacks he may want to buy, those were on his own dime, and he understood that ahead of time.
  • Have a rules talk. Within days of our student arriving, we sat down with him, in fact, we wrote it all down in very plain English, what was expected of him. He ended up posting it on his bulletin board in his room. It listed his curfews (schoolnights and weekends), no drinking, driving, drugs and that kind of thing and what his chores and responsibilities would be. Our student cleans his bathroom every other week (he rotates that with our kids) and gets $20 for mowing our huge lawn. Otherwise, we ask him to keep his room clean and pick up around the house when he sees something out of place. Of course, we constantly have to remind him of many of these things, which I believe are just part of normal teenage behavior.
  • Have them realize there will be consequences when (not if) they screw up. You are standing in for the student’s parents. Our student’s mom actually told him if he screws up, he will be on the first plane back home. They have to learn responsibility. If they come in late from curfew, then take something away from them, whether it’s internet, TV or going out (a big one for them). Most teenagers LOVE to sleep in and hey, if they miss their ride to school, let them sweat it out and figure it out themselves. Our student had to go flying through our subdivision on my son’s little scooter one morning, trying to catch his last chance for a ride. He made it, but next time, he got up when his alarm rang. These kids have to learn to be adults, and if you baby them, make their school lunch, make their bed for them or wake them up in the morning, they will never learn (remember this with your own kids too). We also had the “sex talk”…I wanted him to make sure I knew what the deal was and if there was any hanky panky that gets him or a girl in trouble, he was going to be on the first plane home, no questions asked.
  • Try to have some kind of contact with their parents. My student’s parents were worried about having their son in someone else’s care. I regularly send photos and email, plus I know I will get his mom’s support when things go wrong. She has stood behind me 100% so far, and we wouldn’t have had this rapport without this back and forth contact. Can’t speak their language? Then use the Altavista’s Babelfish Translator to try to get your point across. Email makes that easy. Even if the parents don’t have email at home, in many countries, they can figure a way to access email elsewhere.
  • You may end up being a bus driver. We were lucky in that our student made tons of friends and always had a ride somewhere. We do know other students who didn’t have friends who drove and the host parents had to drive them everywhere..not so difficult if your student ends up being a homebody or has only a few friends, but if they join a sport, such as ours did, with multiple practices a week, it might’ve been close to impossible for me, taking into consideration my husband’s deployments and our own kids’ schedules.
  • Schedule some family activities. I made sure to schedule some events for our family, including our student. Give them a head’s up well ahead of time to make sure they understand they will be attending the event. Many students think it is almost all fun and games when they come here. Ours doesn’t want to do anything without his friends, so we sometimes have to rein him in and remind him that he is here on an exchange and not on a party bus. Let them know their world revolves around your family and not them.
  • Have a set-up for your student’s privacy. Kids at this age should have some sort of privacy. Don’t dig through their stuff and if you can, give them a room they can call their own. This is important. Our student knows that his room is his and his alone and that I don’t even go in there other than to peek in to make sure it is somewhat in order and all the four walls are still standing.
  • Decide what you want to do about the cellphone situation. It seems like every teenager has a cellphone these days. Our student says kids text message all day long, even when they are standing right next to each other. We couldn’t add our student to our cellphone plan, because we didn’t want to incur any more time in our contract due to our upcoming move. Plus, we would’ve had to uptick our minutes and add text messaging, which we don’t have. So, our student had his mom send his phone from home, and we set it up as a prepaid phone. He ended up going through his minutes like water, especially with all the incoming text messages he had to pay for too, so he eventually started leaving it at home when he went to school…a good and smart decision if you ask me in the first place. He has learned to be thrifty and to delay gratification with the thing.
  • No TV or computer/internet in the teen’s room. When we went over the rules, we set down the internet rules as well. If you don’t want to trust them and are a little paranoid, you can always get one of those software monitoring programs on your computer and set them up with their own user id (not as administrator). Keep the computer and TV in the common areas of your house (this is a must for your kids too). You want them to know you are monitoring what they are doing, and that you are keeping track of the time they spend online. I think ours learned the wonders of My Space over here, although I think he was already a messaging wizard before he came here. I have heard it can be a real problem keeping them off the internet for hours, as many want that contact with home (and their friends), and this behavior is discouraged in order for this exchange to work as it should.
  • Insist that they call their parents and family at least every other week. This frequency seems to work out best. Once a week is too often and longer than two weeks wrecks havoc on the poor parents. We have lowcost long distance/international phone service and our host family was also able to find a deal at two cents a minute. You can’t beat that! Here’s a reliable service, Pingo that works great.  You can even share it with others!
  • Query them about their likes and dislikes, and try to make them feel at home. Most will get homesick at some point. Ours had no problem at the beginning, it is at the end of his stay that he is starting to feel down and apprehensive about going back. Give them a chance to tell you their wants and needs. Buy snacks and toiletries and things for around the house they might need. We made up a basket of goodies and gadgets, such as a pocketknife, pen flashlight, dictionary, Post It Notes, a popular novel and office and desk items our student might have needed for school. We included a nice note and put this on his desk in his room before his arrival. The kids also made a welcome home sign for his bedroom door. Before I go to the grocery store or wherever, I do let him know I am going beforehand and leave my shopping list where he can add things to it.
  • Encourage your student to answer the home phone. Ours used to run the other way when it rang. I finally had to tell him to answer it. Now that he has his confidence up, he has no problem answering it. Try to get them in situations where they can get their confidence going in the right direction. You can start with a non-threatening thing such as the’s not face-to-face contact, and if they totally screw up, they can still run and find you and give you the phone. The more they do something, the better they’ll get at it and the more they’ll get out of the exchange experience.
  • Do take the tax deduction when you do your taxes. Right now, you can take a $50 tax deduction per month for hosting a student. In actuality, you spend much more, but that’s what the law says right now.
  • Along those same lines, don’t host a student if you are short on money. Hosting a student costs at least a few hundred extra dollars per month. If you can’t spare that, then don’t host. Don’t put a student in a situation where you are always pinching pennies. You will also tend to resent that unknowing student, and that’s just not fair to them. Most of these exchange programs cost many THOUSANDS of dollars for the student and his family. Many scrimp and save for years or have to ask a rich uncle to help them out. This is a big thing for them. Don’t blow it for them, and be prepared to be somewhat generous. I think many host parents don’t realize the costs involved going into this (both in time and money), so I just wanted to get that out there so you can mull it over!

Those are the highlights, and these are the things we have learned over the past few months. Would we do it again?….probably. I would rethink though having a student the year before we make a big move overseas, but it has mostly been a positive experience for us all. There are many student foreign exchange programs out there. There are a few shady ones as well that you need to stay away from. You can check the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students to read some of the complaints. We had a lot of luck with Youth for Understanding, a program that’s been around since the end of WWII. I must say, they go through a lot of trouble to make sure their students are prepared before they arrive, they have activities and get togethers for the students, and they monitor their stay and try to make it a positive experience for both the host family and the student. Have you ever hosted a foreign exchange student? Have you been one yourself?

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106 Responses to “Thinking of Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?”

  1. Linda says:

    I’ll add these:

    Don’t make a decision for a student until both parents come to a COMPLETE agreement about which student they want. A military couple I know argued about which student…in the end the male got his choice…a saucy little number. She had him wrapped around her finger in about 2 seconds and a lot of times, I saw what *I* considered inappropriate behavior. (hugs and other physicalness that seemed wrong for a girl that age to be trying on a man)

    Also…when your student decides to do things that he/she SWEARS her parents said was okay…maybe be sure the parents ARE in agreement. Same couple above…their young lady went out and got several tattoos (the first 2 were without anyone’s knowledge – she lied about her age to the tattoo place as well), and then, it was too late. She swore mom and dad said it was okay…but it really wasn’t, they discovered. The rapport between the families quickly disintegrated.

    And…if you are a young married couple (say…aged 23 and 25) it’s probably not a good idea to host a student…especially if you’ve just had a baby, moved to a new state, started a new job, and have only been married a year or two. You need to be solid in your foundation so that you can give the students a good home.

  2. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    I agree!…Funny, my husband wanted a girl too until our area rep told him a boy would be much, much easier!

  3. tootie says:

    We’d eventually like to host an exchange student. We will keep all these tips in mind. Thanks for sharing – it’s definitely an interesting topic!

  4. Sarah says:

    Wow! Awesome that I was just looking for advice like this and you just wrote this post yesterday. My parents are hosting a German girl next year and I’m forwarding these tips to them. Thanks for your time. :D Do you have any advice for exchange students?

  5. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    That’s wonderful! As far as advice for the student…I asked mine..he said the student should become familiar with the cultural differences and customs, work on their language skills and to go into it with an open mind. He also said you have to minimize contact with friends back home (no text messaging) or else why bother doing an exchange if you can’t get “out of your life”.

    Let me also add, I don’t think many of the parents know the true costs of an exchange. Yes, there is the fee to be a part of an exchange organization (since 9/11 there can be no more independent exchanges done on your own, you have to go with a program)…running thousands of dollars (our student paid around $9,000)…but teenagers need LOTS of money. I can’t tell you the number of times ours went out to eat with his friends (almost a daily occurrence) or to Starbucks, plus money to attend school sporting events ,be a part of the soccer and swim teams and other school activities. Our student had a paper route at home and saved some of that up. He typically spends about $300 a month (not including if he buys clothes or things for himself)!

  6. Funny about Money says:

    Well, this one may sound like borrowing trouble…but for what it’s worth:

    If you’re in a big city and the young person you’re hosting comes from a smaller town, take a little time to teach her or him the basics of street smarts and urban survival.

    Our neighbors hosted an exchange student and were very happy to have him as a guest member of their family. One afternoon on the way home from school he was let out of the bus on the main drag nearest their house and tried to cross the street from in FRONT of the bus. He was hit and killed on the spot. This happened in front of the family’s twelve-year-old son, who was riding the bus with him.

    It was heartbreaking. And more so because no kid who lives around here would even think of walking across the road in front of a bus; they would all walk to the back of the bus where they could see oncoming traffic or walk the 50 or 60 feet from the bus to a crosswalk.

    In some parts of the world jaywalking is normal behavior. So…think of all the hazards a kid could encounter and give a clue.

  7. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    What a sad story to hear! Our student came from a small city, and we did have a street smart talk…but alas, you can’t cover everything and the student needs to be reminded to be aware of their surroundings, look and then act…we tried to instill this in our student and so far, he has matured like you wouldn’t believe since he’s been here!

    We also had a student immobilized in a terrible snowmobile accident from our program. I don’t know what her experience is with snowmobiling, if she was riding alone or what the story was, but it was heartbreaking to hear about it. I hope she is able to make a full recovery.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Want to find out what exchange looks like from the kids perspective?


    I’m not a military person but I thought I’d add my comments.
    We hosted a swedish girl and couldn’t be happier. she became another daughter yes she got a tattoo (a little one on her ankle) yes she got drunk (but was discreete about it) Yes she had a fling with a boy (and we were happy for her to put some energy into learning about relationships.) she has now returned home. Sending her home was a heart rending processes. She became another daughter for us and we still keep in contact.

    I read all your tips and they are all sound and sensible. My thoughts though are that your exchange organisation should have pointed all those things out to you well before your student arrived. Ours (Rotary) did.
    Communication is the key word We told our host daughter on day 1 that if something wasnt right to tell us. perhaps there was nothing we could do and she would just have to accept the situation but at least we knew.
    You do hear horror stories from time to time but there are thousands of exchange students each year you would expect a few to “go wrong”

    best wishes
    Aussie Dad

  9. FinlandTyttö says:

    Coming from a host student, I have to say that many of your points would make me feel so completely out of place and angry, I would probably leave.

    Your whole suggestion that giving the student their space is excellent and extremely true, but then you talk about putting a software monitor on the computer? Would you do that to your own kids? If the answer is yes, then whatever. But if you think that just because this kid is foreign and coming to your country, he’s suddenly going to decide to look at porn on your computer, you obviously don’t understand teenagers that well.

    Trust does not need ot be earned in this situation, we have spent 17, or maybe 18 years convincing our own parents that we are trustworthy. (And Rotary, if that is the program being used) When someone is allowed to be an exchange student, we have to go through a lot of processes to prove that we are worthy, and should be give a certain amount of trust. If we keep breaking rules however, obviously we should be punished and such.

    There is no such thing as being a perfect exchange student, obviously you didn’t go on exchange. You may never understand how hard exchange is, nobody can unless they do it. College exchange is different, but high school exchange is probably the hardest thing a teenager can do. You don’t understand how stressful and hard and complicated and confusing and painful leaving your family and coming to a new country is. It’s not all fun and games, if your kid wants to go out, let him go out. If he wants to stay in his room reading or crying or whatever, let him. We need space to cope, we can’t be perfect.

    Just keep in mind you have to be lenient and understanding, more so than you would with your own kids, since this is a completely different situation.

    I know I’m only 17, and you probably don’t care what I have to say. But I know that if you were my host mom, I would break as many of your rules as I could, just to prove that I am 5 anymore, I can make my own decisions and I don’t need you breathing down my neck constantly just because I’m foreign.


  10. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    Wow, you sound like an angry young person. Our exchange student loves it just fine with us and actually wants to stay!

    Our own children follow these SAME RULES and yes, I was an exchange student myself at one time. I went to Germany, so I know what I am talking about.

    As for the computer, I did not say I spy on them…my kids use the same computer. They all know the computer is MINE and that they are allowed to use it as they like..responsibly. They know the rules beforehand and respect them. As a responsible parent, I have the monitoring on there, just in case. I trust my children and exchange student just fine. I would hope you remember these tips when you have children…it’ll make them better and more responsible adults.

    Oh, and if you were my student and broke all those rules, you would be on the plane back home…what a waste of money and effort on your part…hope it would’ve been worth it for you!

  11. FinlandTyttöTaas says:

    Fair enough, I guess you can host how you like but it’s just not the way I would choose to treat an exchange student/be treated as one.
    But, actually yes, its been the best thing in life. And defiantly not a waste of my time and money, in any way, ever.

    When I was back home my parents had a lot of rules and restricted me a lot, and when I came to Europe I had practically none. Back home I would go out, party a lot, break rules and be a teenager. But since I have more freedom and I can choose to go out and be a teenager, I don’t have so much incentive to do those things. I’m an advocate of the idea that more rules = more trouble, because it’s what I’ve experienced.
    Because I got to make my own choices about my free time here, rather than having my parents breathe down my throat all the time, I’ve learned how to be in on control of my life, and grew up a whole lot. We have to be let go in order to learn how to live our lives, and what better time to do that when we’re on exchange, right?

    As for me being an “angry young person”, probably. But before you tell me I’m angry please realize that you have no idea why I may be angry.

  12. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    finlandty, I agree with a lot of what you have to say. It sounds like your exchange experience was a very positive one! I am very glad to hear that! Thanks for all your constructive criticism, and I hope you can continue to encourage others to experience an exchange..whether it’s a student or a host family:-))

  13. kcampobasso says:

    Veteran Military Wife: I’m so grateful for your sharing on this subject. My husband and I are considering hosting this coming school year and we have many questions. This spells out quite a bit of information that I find helpful and reasonable.

    FinlandTyttoTaas: I realize since you haven’t commented here since April, you probably won’t receive this, but I’d just like to say that as an educator who has taught MANY exchange students from MANY different countries, I see validity in what you say about having freedom being a deterrent for getting into trouble in the first place, but I’d like to add something. Every exchange student is different, and things that you see as useless boundaries have PROVEN to be important safeguards to my students again and again. I do not believe any exchange student INTENDS to cause a problem or get into trouble, but rather that most of you are curious about the world around you. I believe this to be a sign of maturity and respect that you have the courage and committment to take a journey like this. However, due to either misunderstanding, or a lack of knowledge about certain situations, I have known students that did things they later regretted. Guidelines exist NOT to control a student, but to protect them and help them get the very best out of such an experience. I believe you were more open to what “Military Wife” said after you allowed her words time to settle and after she replied to you, but the way you represented yourself in your first response was indeed angry-sounding. Maybe more so than you intended. The truth is that you ARE younger and have important things ahead to learn. Your values and beliefs WILL change as you journey through life, and at no time will you have ALL the answers. I know this because mine have done so, and all those around me. I wish you great success in your life, and hope that as you enjoy your process and perhaps someday have children your understanding will deepen.

    By the way, I have taught and formed close relationships with at least ten Finnish students in the past four years. I love them dearly and we “keep up”. They sometimes expressed frustration at more “rules” in their households, but they had been told to expect this as an American way of life and an important part of their exchange experience. Every single one of them left for home FULLY SATISFIED with their experience and several have returned to visit me and their host families and friends here. No regrets.

    Thanks to all who shared input!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hi all,
    Being a former Exchange student from Oslo, Norway in 1989/90 (now married to a soldier, and living in the US); I fortunately had a GREAT family, that I still talk to on a weekly basis, and see at least twice monthly (as we are now stationed in the same city I used to be an exchange student in!).

    But let me say: we had some MAJOR difficulties to get through at first! Nr. 1: most young people from european countries are NOT religious in any way, nor have they ever attended church (or even considered doing so)…so speaking for myself: Telling my host-family I had no interest in going to church because I do not believe in God was a HUGE issue (considering they are southern baptists!) I remember calling home telling my mom I may be sent home! LOL The end-result: I went to church….it was their house, and their rule (oh: and I didn't die! But definetely did NOT believe even a smidgen more than before either). Another huge issue was the fact that coming from Norway (a very safe country) at 17yrs old I had no curfews what-so-ever, my parents always raised me under the principle: "Freedom with responsibility" (meaning: don't mess up because you'll loose!) The subways run until after mid-night, there is a night-tram, or you just ride your moped to whereever you need to go at night……But I had no clue that in most US states you HAVE to have a car to get around…there is no subway/tram/bus-system in most cities….and mopeds were for people that had lost their license (well: basically)! it was a SHOCK to me having to be in at 10pm on weekdays, and 11 pm on weekends, and the fact that there were no coffee-shops, teenage hang-outs, orclubs to even go to was mind-blowing to me coming from a large city. Norway is a country where you are on a first-name basis with all your teachers, your friends parents, grand-parents, etc…Every teacher i ever had WANTED you to be out-spoken and discuss issues, and also disagree with them (of course you had to present your case, a give reasons!), but coming here to the US everything was opposite….here you must conform, no-one in high-school is "allowed" to voice other opinions, there is little room for individuality… It takes TIME & UNDERSTANDING for people (both sides) to "learn" the others culture. Would I do it again: YES! Would I let my son go to another country to study: double-yes! But I think I would make him study long and hard about the other country's culture first. My host-family paid for everything we did together, if I did something by myself (or with friends); I paid. My parents called me on a weekly basis (this was before e-mail). If I baby-sat my host brothers (3 and 5 yrs at the time) they paid me. I did normal chores around the house (I love to do laundry so I did a LOT of that so I could escape other things such as vacuuming! LOL). The year in the US does not count for most exchange students (myself included), everyone I ever knew just did it to be fluent in another language…and to get a break from school (which in Europe is a LOT harder than here in the US….we have no such thing as a multiple choice test….everything is essay based)…..OK, I can go on and on and on…. But mostly I wrote in because i can't see why people would be upset about your little blog about exchange student: I would have been a lot harsher! I still ask my host-mom: WHAT the heck were you thinking taking in a teenager when you had 2 small kids: did you not have enough work as it was??? LOL They both always "blame" me for not having more kids…LOL they say: we were scared we'd have a girl, and we saw how hard that was!! :-) Then again: we only had one exchange student from my program get sent home the year i was here: and that was a BOY from Ireland: he was caught drinking and smoking weed….and his excuse that it was normal in Ireland; did NOT fly here!
    My tip for a family considering this:
    1. Religion = Can you tolerate someone who is the opposite from you?
    2. Politics = are you liberal (you may WANT to be, at least picking a european youth)
    3. Can you afford it?
    4. Do you have time for him/her (I needed help with homework sometimes)
    5. Can you stand having another person in your house for 10-11 months? (Honestly: my limit is about 3-4 days for anyone but my husband and son!!)
    6. Getting someone just because you want to learn more about that country: Bad idea. Spend your money on a plane-ticket there instead :-)

    For those of you that do open your home: THANK YOU!!!!!!!! I would have never been where I am today without the experience as an exchange-student living with a wonderful host-family…I even came back to the US to go to University 7 yrs after I left the first time, and ended up meeting my now: hubby! CUDOS to you all.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I was an exchange student in Germany from 2007-2008. It was a very differnt and rewarding experience. Coming from a very strict familyinteh US to a very informal family with lots of unwritten rules, structure and rules would have certainly made life alot easier. Plus I agree with the OP, do not host if you cannot afford it nor want to include them as family. One of the families I stayed with wanted an au-pair. The other did not want an exchange student at all. Overall I made lasting friends, and one of my hostparents will be coming to my wedding next year (marrying a Navy guy). Overall I thank each and everyone of you hostparents that make this possible. Thank you

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all of the helpful information. We are also a military family, preparing to host a student from Switzerland for the upcoming school year. We're wondering if you were able to obtain a military ID for your exchange student so they can access on-post facilities.

  17. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    We lived 45 minutes away from post, so didn't even consider this. As far as I know, you have to be a true dependent to get an ID card, but just call your ID office and ask.

    We did get him added to our family though at the YMCA at no extra cost, so he could go with his friends. The YMCA is very popular with his crowd of friends.

  18. Anonymous says:

    anyone had experience with a German girl exchange student. mine is very negative with a low self esteem and it is starting to affect my other two children. I have been told this is common in German girls.

    any suggestions on how to help boost her self esteem and to not be so negative.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  19. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    So sorry to hear that! No, not all teenagers are as outgoing as you think an exchange student would be! Many just don't know what they are getting themselves into.

    Some things that I'm thinking of….is there a neighbor's daughter who would be willing to include the young lady in activities and events? I would say bribe the neighbor's daughter if you have to.

    Get her signed up for some kind of club or sport….there she will start to feel like she's part of something greater and that helps self esteem issues.

    The other thing is to complement her….often but not excessively…either on her work, what she's wearing, her chores and that kind of thing.

    Lastly, talk to your own kids in private. You've got to get them to understand how hard it is to get transplanted out of everything you know and to be in a strange place with a new language. Try to have them see it from her perspective and that it is not normal behavior, but they have to try to help her to cope. You didn't say how old yours were…they should act really delighted when your exchange student "gets it" or does something out of her comfort zone…that's how you pump someone up.

    Don't be artificial about it…but genuine, and she'll eventually come around.

    Our exchange student was quiet and shy when he first came….he was a different person when he left and is STILL a member of our family, visiting often:-)

  20. Anonymous says:

    We hosted a beautiful young lady from Germany three years ago and are considering hosting again. The delay has been our first experience was close to perfect and we're afraid the next one will be hell-child. :)…just kidding.
    Mariana was a delight to host in every way. She was kind, thoughtful, involved and we came to love her as our own.
    What we learned during the experience and in talking with other host families is that kids are kids no matter where they're from. Sure, there are cultural differences, but we experience those within the borders of our own country.
    The "rules" you worte about in your original post were spot-on. It's very simple…"my house, my rules" applies. As long as the rules are fair and applied consistently and communicated in an understandable fashion, there rally shouldn't be any more drama than goes in in any normal household.
    Thanks! I think I just went from "considering" to "gonna do it!"

  21. isecz says:

    This made me smile when I came across it. 19 yrs ago I became a host mother for the first time. A boy!!! Heck, I had 3 children, foster children and loved being around kids. That year changed me forever. Since then I have hosted 18 students from so many countries. I am now a Regional Director at 61 yrs of age and don't understand why all the kids that come visit me (that I don't host) want to stay. LOL So much of what everyone said on here is so very true. It is not like raising your own children. These kids are scared, go into culture shock, don't understand rules, feel they may know it all sometimes and see how far they can go but if you as a host mother, Area Representative or even a Director, as I am…have the understanding of kids, can be open minded, try to think what you would do if it was you, how you would want your child to be treated in another country, able to stay calm before saying things and can give Huge Hugs….You can make it and the student will never forget the little things you did for them. So often I cry when I read things my kids send me. The one that touched my soul the most was from the young lady I just hosted last year from Denmark. She told me in a short message how much se missed me, wished she was still with me and thinks of me all the time when she sits down to eat dinner with her parents. She remembers we would sit and pray first, then eat, talk about the day and end up staying there for at least an hour talking. That was our time and she misses that every day. She wanted to learn about God and she joined Young Life through the school. I bought her her first bible and that was the book she never went to bed without. Religion was never pushed down her throat but she would always come home from Young Life and tell me they discussed something we may have spoken about weeks earlier. Yes, hosting to me is what I will do till I take my last breath. Each one I have had gave me something deep inside and even with me in charge of so many students placed all over PA, DE, NJ, even those who try to do things they should not do are still special. Remember, we did not give them their values in life, we did not bond with them from birth and we did not teach them what we do our children each day…Understanding and having an open mind with them gets you further then tough rules. To all my Area Representatives, Host Families and Students…I love you all and am so proud of what you do each and every day. We all have grown together each year and have formed wonderful relationships. I have over 600 son's and daughter's all over this world. Hosting may not be for everyone. Don't be ashamed if it is not. To the one lady above who mentioned she would like to host again but is afraid it could go bad and the one she did host was so good….don't stop now. Read the letters, find the organization that really cares, especially the Area Rep's and Managers and look for the one that catches your eye. You will be just fine. God Bless All of You. I have been Blessed….

  22. J Elizabeth says:

    I'm a USAF vet, single, childless and my first hosting experience is drawing to a close. This year was one if the best experiences if my life! My new "daughter" is from Thailand and was the mist perfect addition to my life! I never thought I'd be a Mom – my timing has just been off and it just never happened- so the day she asked to call me Mom was one of my happiest!
    The tips are here were good but I had to adapt them to fit what my student needed. That was scary for me as this was my first parenting-like experience! My student would have spent every waking hour studying if I didn't push her out of the house! An 85 or 93 on a test triggered intensification if studying!! It was a great learning experience for both of us – I tend to work long long hours but when I had no time to visit with her and saw that we were doing nothing but school/work, it was the prod I needed. We both relaxed our type-A ways and have regular fun breaks now!!
    As for expenses, I set my rules up that food outside the house us generally the responsibility of the student, unless we're eating out cause there's no food UN the house. I don't buy snacks other than what I normally eat – my student was free to buy what she wanted but rarely bought anything. Road trip costs – gas, hotel- were split 50-50.
    As a single person, I could not afford doubling every expense. My exchange program encouraged me and helped us find these compromised rules that worked for me.
    I would encourage other adults to host- absolutely!!
    I'm ambivalent about hosting again- thus was such an easy ride I feel completely unprepared for a rocky one if it came my way!!! But, it is so life changing I can't imagine not doing it again!
    My student will leave in a few weeks, but I know she and her entire family will be part of my life forever.

  23. Anonymous says:

    My family hosted an exchange student during 2009-2010 school year and she became a true part of our family, I would not change that experience for anything. At the time, I was pregnant, had a fifteen month old son as well as a nine year old step-daughter, My husband and I had only been married a couple of years and we were both in college as well as searching for our dream home during her stay here. We aren't wealthy but felt as though we could give a student an opportunity of a lifetime of coming to America. At first we limited her email and computer use simply because we wanted her to become a part of the family rather than talk to her friends at home and not get the full experience here. We still talk to her once a month or so as I said she became a part of our family. She was there for the birth of my second son as well as mine and my husband's graduation plus the purchase of our first home. Only you know what your family can handle. I am certainly glad that I decided to bring an exchange student into my home…

  24. Kittie says:

    We hosted a a girl from South Korea. Poor thing felt so out of place when she first arrived. Just as she was adjusting it was time for her to head home. She said if she could have picked an area to go to it would have been a major metropolitan city( we took her to Chicago,and Dc.She taunt me a lot about her country and her culture. I hope to go visit her some day.The only bad experience I had with hosting was I felt she could of gotten so much more out of her experience if we had been paired better. But when she was interviewed she gave different answers then what she ended up actually 'hoping" to experience. Were as I thought she was perfect. We tried to allow her to see some of the bigger cities located here in the USA the best we could. She says she misses the big house and quietness of our home. I was far less critical of her and gave her more personal space she was accustomed to . I too limit PC time, TV time, chores, and money spent, who and where they went. As great as it is to learn to be self sufficient begin practical and respectful are just as useful.

    I hope to do again some day.

  25. Angela says:

    Thanks to everyone for this information. I am interested in serving as a coordinator that places international students in US homes. I stumbled upon this blog, and was hoping that some of you that have hosted students could provide insight as to your decision to host a student. I'm really looking for incentives to provide families that might be interested. Thanks in advance for your help!

  26. ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** says:

    I can answer for myself. I studied at a foreign university in college and wanted to give a German…particularly one from the former East Germany a chance to do something new and exciting! Plus, it was a bit selfish, in that I was looking for a "big brother" for our boys and wanted a "taste" of what it was like to raise a teenager before we had to do it for real!

  27. forex says:

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful blogs online. I’m going to recommend this site!

  28. Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife says:

    Wow, that would be pretty cool!

  29. Eric says:

    Above was a comment that states “since 9/11 there can be no more independent exchanges done on your own.” Is there some written information regarding this? I am in the process of hosting a student from China without using an organization, and I want to be sure it is legal.

  30. rdtsmith93 says:

    Not sure but checking with the State Department is a start. I do know the program we used, there was a student who was a relative of one of our host families. I remember the mother telling me it was near impossible for them to host her independently, so they chose Youth for Understanding and got her in that program…which is how the relative came to them.

  31. djwtxus12 says:

    Our german exchange student leaves to go back in a couple of weeks. We didn’t sign up for an exchange student but rather rescued her from a host family situation that was not working out.

    She has been a real pleasure and my daughter’s life has been enriched. They are the same age and since my daughter is an only child, she found it tough initially. Now I know they will be friends for life and that is a wonderful thing.

    The advice above is sound now that I have been through the experience. Would I volunteer for another exchange student? I don’t think so. I am looking forward to having my home to ourselves and not be responsible for someone else’s child. It has been somewhat of a financial burden but not that huge – it was just not something we included in our budget since it was something we did impulsively.

  32. kaay says:

    I host a student from South Korea. Read her profile and it seems to fit in my family. She stated that she is fine with younger siblings, like animation, music, and like to make friend. But everything turn out to be the opposite. She doesn’t like kids, especially youth who is the same age. She has no basic life skills and social skills with youth her age but adult. She wanted all my attention to herself and she is very inconsiderate person. She is very negative about everything and she is very insecure. She eats and drinks like an elephant and her room is totally messy, many bottle water and glasses of juice in her room. She is on her ipad all the time. I had lay out rules, curfew, and bed time in my house, none has followed. She is very rude to my girls. I will not do it again. She is odd, not normal child. I heard that Korean parents have the attention of send their special needs kid off to different country so they don’t have to take care. My student has been in my house for about almost two weeks now parents called the first night she arrived to make sure she get here alright. No email, phone call or whatever from her parents. I will not do it again. My family and kids come before them.

  33. kaay says:

    I am working with the agency to find her new host family. No one want to take her if we tell the issues.

  34. GLPetro says:

    I need some of advice. We are hosting a 16 year old boy from Indonesia. We are into our 7th week hosting and things are not going well. He is very passively disrespectful. We give him chores and he just doesn’t complete them. Sleeps all the time, acts like he’s superior to us (especially my kids), and has been looking at porn on MY laptop. The first time we caught him, my husband talked to him and explained it was ok to be a sexual person, but that looking at porn is inappropriate, especially the “rough” nature of what he was viewing. So, we said the pc was to only be used in the common areas of the house. 2 weeks later he is held up in his room with my laptop in his room again! I check the history and more porn! I already reported him once to our coordinator and this Time he will probably be sent home. I’m not sure how to handle this. It is actually illegal to even view porn in his home country and he’s a strict Muslim so I don’t get it.

  35. admin says:

    I am truly sorry you are going thru this. It seems that some students just don’t get screened properly. This young man is NOT a good candidate for an exchange. If you have tried everything in your power to make him feel comfortable and to understand the rules..three strikes and you’re out! I’d also be curious what organization you are working with. Some vet their kids better than others. Oh and the porn thing…young Moslem men do sow their wild oats before getting married…sometimes even with each other..then it’s not accepted at all once they’re married…at least officially. This is what my Moslem friends tell me anyway…I can’t vouch for it myself. Make sure you document specific instances on paper…dates and what the young man did to break the rules and also what you told him. You want to have something to show the agency and not just say that he’s not working out. Again, sorry you are having a challenging time!

  36. GLPetro says:

    I’d be happy to tell you the organization! It’s FLAG and he’s here on scholarship to boot! My husband says we report him again period. This is a big offense. I wanted to handle it initially in a non-punitive manner because we are dealing with human sexuality here and that should be guided in the right direction. Right? Well, obviously he can’t respect our wishes. I have a 5 and 8 year old that could stumble across that garbage and it’s unacceptable. I don’t wanna see it either. So should we report him again in your opinion? Sounds like to me that’s what you are saying. At the very least he will put on strict probation or sent home. At this point, as muh as I hate to say it, I think it’s best. I don’t want him living here on probation. It makes me scared of what could come next. I need your opinion based on experience fast! Please:) I think my husband will report him regardless. Should I not have the same attitude toward porn because it is acceptable in his culture? That was my thinking the first time and after a long, in detail, and loving talk about what the norms are and whats acceptable here, he still did it! He seems too sexually charged to me and often I catch him looking at my chest as we are speaking. It is very, very strange. What would you do?

  37. admin says:

    Is there a rep you can talk to locally? We had a local rep we could call on speed dial to get his opinion. Me personally…which is all I can offer. I would call my rep for advice. I would probably give the young man a few chances. We made ours sign a document where we listed the house rules (one was no porn on any of the house computers)…we all signed it…gave him a copy…we had that talk when he first came into our home. If you did not do that I would urge you to do this…and then tell him that if he chooses not to follow the rules, he cannot stay with you..simple as that.

  38. GLPetro says:

    We do have a rep that I can speak to and have in the past when the issue originally surfaced. However, this time he will go on probation, period. I am contacting her because, in my opinion, he had a chance and I have small children in the house. I do not know him from Adam and as much as I supervise, things can happen. I have been thinking about it all day and I am really disturbed by it all. It was made very clear to him the first time how innappropriate this is and possible ramifications and he still chose to blatantly defy us. I think a signed document is a great idea and will do that. However, at this point and given the content of his porn searches (which has been addressed too) he may be looking at going home anyway. And as I stated, it is a lot of defiance, very passive, but still there nonetheless. My major concern is that we are only 6 weeks into this and we’ve seen this much… What’s next? Would he direct his behavior toward my children? Already I catch him looking at me A LOT in a sexual way! You are right, he is not a good candidate for exchange. Thank you so much for your candid responses.

  39. admin says:

    At any time if I felt such discomfort and felt threatened, it would be best to terminate the agreement. I know they say they try to do things in the best interest of the exchange student but really…it sounds like you gave him and the organization a lot of chances already. Maybe they can give him a chance as placement in a home without children or older children before they ship his butt back home. You do what feels right for you AND your family first:-)

  40. GLPetro says:

    Thank you and I agree. We approached him about it, for the second time, and he was genuinely upset. However, he was upset because he was caught and not for doing it! Why else would he be? After all, we felt like the first time he “got it” and it wouldn’t be an issue again. He will be on a very tight leash from now on. I love the signed agreement idea and am drafting something today for him to sign and agree to. Any deviation from this will be immediate grounds for removal from our home. I do care a lot about this kid and would like to give hime another chance. He did state that he wasn’t totslly clear on what his chores are and even though I know we spelled it out for him, a signed document cannot be argued. I will give him the benefit of the doubt one last time. For me, the porn is a big deal. Especially after he was told how innapropriate it was already AND admitted how unacceptable it would be to his parents. I hate that I have to report him, BUT he did this and NOT me.

  41. Kindra.D says:

    well worth the read. I found very informative as I have been researching a lot lately on practical matters such as you talk about… Wish you luck!

  42. Hosting for the first time says:


    I am a single mom with two teenage daughters. We have been hosting a 17 yr old young man from Korea since late August. Things were going well until 6 weeks into the semester I learned he hadn’t turned in several assignments and was and still is .failing 3 classes. I had been told he had been immature with the previous host families and was disrespectful with them but he was really in a bind so we decided to host him. Well now I just want to give up and I feel a tremendous amount of guilt about it. He has promised to finish assignments that were due since Aug and Sept and the teachers still have yet to see them. When I ask him or remind him or advise him about how he can get his homework done he doesn’t want to hear it. His parents pay so much money for him to attend the private school here but he acts like he doesn’t appreciate it. I feel responsible if he fails but what can I do to get him to do it? I ground him from interet other than schoolwork, video games, watching movies until his several missing assigments are turned in but he defies me by using his ipod or phone or computer to do the very things I asked him not to. His parents are very little help as they trust what he says about his schoolwork and are limited in their English speakin/writing ability. We like him a lot overall but my girls have witnessed him being rude to me and that has caused dissension between them. And frankly, I am so stressed…I can’t go on like this with everything that is on me to do. What frustrates me the most is enabling him to be here in the US and him not showing the respect his parents deserve by all the sacrifices they make to put him here…they pay about $50K a year for him to attend school here. Any advice/ comments/ suggestions? I already informed the parents that he really needs to find another home for the next semester…problem is..we haven’t found a replacement and if noone can do it he will need to go home..back to Korea. He is aware of this and now seems to be working harder to bring his grades up and not goof off. He is very bright and capable ..just seemed to not be as focused on doing the work. If I continue hosting him then am I really doing anyone any favors? Thanks for reading.

  43. Hosting for the first time says:

    Also, I did say I would do it for a year and would be breaking that verbal commitment if I opted to not host past December. I spoke with the school dean and the woman.that placed him in my charge and they both feel being under the direct.guidance of his parents is most likely the for him…but of course…he doesnt go. Thanks.for any input…

    Hosting for the 1st time

  44. GlPEtro says:

    First off, i feel your pain and im sorry for you:( I can only speak from my experience and opinion, so take it for what it is please. Someone mentioned to me that it’s my home and when you begin to feel uncomfortable in your 1 place that you should have security and solice, then the ball game needs changed. Follow your gut. We did end up asking for our student to be removed. It was too much. He was rude and condescending to me and very inappropriate. Started doing similair things in school as yours did and was just very weird. I stopped wanting to be alone with him at home and would create things to do so I didn’t have to be. Nobody should have to feel that way. The thing to ask yourself is would you tolerate this from your children? I know that you wouldn’t send your kids away, but he’s not your kid. If you feel he needs to go, then he needs to go! I too felt guilty for not following through with my commitment, but once he was gone it was so much better! I felt i had my house back!

  45. Hosting for the first time says:

    Thank you soooooooooo much GIPEtro… I feel you are quite right! He is not my kid and the lack of respect is too much. I do not tolerate it from my children and it is very stressful trying to control it with him. I feel him finding a new home will ultimately be the best solutionfor all of us. Thank you again so very much. Feel more at peace with my decision. Blessings to you!

  46. GlPEtro says:

    No problem:) Best decision I made in regards to our exchange and now I have a friend in the same boat. I doubt we will ever do it again because of him. Don’t let the agency talk you into keeping him because he has nowhere else to go. That’s not your problem! I literally had to demand they take him and he’s living with his coordinator right now, but I’ve heard he’s gotten in
    More trouble since leaving us. God bless you and do exactly what you want. :)

  47. Hosting for the first time says:

    Thank you so much! His school is even supporting the decision he goes back to his home country with his parents or a boarding school because of things he has done there as well. Thank you so very much for your support. I feel so much more at peace now!! Many Blessings!

  48. GlPEtro says:

    Last piece of advice as the exchange program coordinator will probably give you a hard time, as they did us, document everything and especially that call to the school. I’d go as far as asking the school to put that in writing. Also, when and if they give you a hard time, give them a time limit to get him out. Remember they will possibly lose money if tht kid goes home or they may end up with him, as my coordinator did with my student! We gave her 24 hours in the end because of the lack of support and I felt literally scared due to him accessing porn and sexual attitude toward me. Do not allow them to come up with a reform plan with him! Stick to your guns! I’m only so interested because I know how you feel! Please keep us posted and bless you too:)

  49. admin says:

    Gretchen, this is absolutely GREAT advice! We were lucky in getting a student who had a sense of responsbility and courtesy…and we only had very small hiccups. I remember the big thing is to always document instances with dates/times and what he fails to do. I stand by having a contract with the student that you both sign shortly after arrival…that next day if possible. At this point, you have to have your family come first. The kids who come are given rules and must follow those rules. If they can’t abide by them, and you’ve done everything you done physically possible AND you gave him at least one or two chances…if the student still doesn’t comply, you’re done. Each of these programs does have a way to deal with kids who don’t “make it”…believe me. And it’s not going to be your problem anymore, and I would take comfort that you gave multiple opportunities and chalk this up to being a learning experience…hopefully…for that student…they can only grow from this experience. I want to wish you all the best and know you are doing the right thing from what I’m reading.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Ugh. No wonder the kid wanted to leave all the time and be with his friends. I am sure my hosting experience will be much better. Your entire perspective is about “Americanizing” them. I work with exchange students and there is beautiful process of compromise between keeping their values in tact while introducing them to new American concepts. It helps them adjust gradually rather than increasing their degree of initial culture shock like what you’ve described.

  51. admin says:

    Have you hosted before? I can only speak from one hosting experience and also from my friends’ experiences…very few were negative experiences. Our student had his own cultural norms which we accepted and learned about…we did NOT Americanize him at all (as much as he LOVED America). What the other folks above commented on show me that they tried EVERYTHING short of letting the children (yes, they are children) run amok in their homes with no rules. These kids (in the better exchange programs) are taught extensively in prep classes MONTHS ahead of time what is expected of them and how to interact with their host family…simple rules really…that have nothing to do with culture but a safe environment for both the host family’s kids AND the student. I hope your experience is easy-as-pie, and if it’s not, I hope you think about some of the things you have read here. Yes, you have to be accommodating, that much is for sure, but you don’t have to compromise basic principles of safety. That’s what it really all comes down to…not what our culture is like or isn’t like…sheesh.

  52. GlPEtro says:

    If you want to get to the real meat of it, anonymous, that is what their experience is supposed to be here, strictly an American one. They have strict rules of how often they can contact home and how much they are allowed to focus on their culture. That is the contingency to doing a program like this and they sign up for it because it’s what they want! All of that being said, we had liberal rules with contacting home because we felt our student could handle te emotional aspect of it because he went to boarding school in his home country and would go 4-6 months without seeing family anyway. Also, we were fascinated with his culture and celebrated it. Bottom line, these kids made serious bad choices. My student was here on a US govt scholarship and should’ve had exemplary behavior. It’s against the law in his country and here (under 18) to access porn. If he is willing to break that law, what other laws is he willing to? Also, he intentionally walked in my bedroom without knocking and caught me indecent. We never even did that to him. He was sexually inappropriate,disrespectful, defiant, and rude! Walk a mile, anonymous. We bent and bent for him and he took full advantage. Thank you admin for your support.

  53. Micaela.bradley says:

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! best wishes

  54. Bridget says:

    I’m researching ways to get families to WANT TO HOST, and your first sentence is – Don’t do it! Yikes! I’m a coordinator and after reading some of the responses to your post, I would like to offer two things, 1) your coordinator is not doing their job, 2) situations involving sexual activity in ANY way, that makes you uncomfortable, means it’s time for the student to be sent back home.

    Now, anybody want to host an exchange student? If so, and you’re in Colorado, reach out to me at I would love to work with you, and I am very involved with my students and families!

  55. admin says:

    You are obviously one of the dream coordinators we would all like to have!

  56. GlPetro says:

    No kidding, admin! Bridget you sound wonderful and hit the nail on the head in all respects. After all was said and done, my coordinator had the nerve to ask us to send her more documentation of specific behaviors! Sorry you didn’t do your job the 10 times I called you with a list of complaints, but he’s gone and your problem now. Sad part is that he is still here and going to the school in my very small district. He is a deviant and doesn’t need to be here. I hope he doesn’t perp on anyone else. I will add to make you feel better Bridget, that we may eventually do this again:) We won’t let one bad egg ruin it for the bunch. However, it will not be for awhile and until our kids are older. We need a break and there was too big of an age difference. Best of luck to you all!

  57. Eugene says:

    Looking for the host families in LA area. We have a group of 10 Ukrainian children (aged 12 – 14) who would love to come to US for 3 weeks starting late June (around 20-th) of 2013. Kids will come with one or two adults who will need accommodation as well. Kids speak some English and would like to practice is staying with the families, learn about life of Americans.
    We will provide local visits to Desney Land, Universal Studious, Long Beach, Santa Monica, etc.
    Please, contact Eugene at 1 515.528.1410 or e-mail at

  58. admin says:

    Remember to always thoroughly check out hosting agencies. Please don’t ever randomly accept students without knowing and reseaerching the agency.

  59. Sara says:

    From a host sibling’s perspective: My family hosted several exchange students when I was growing up, mostly through short-term programs. It wasn’t always easy to share my life with teens from across the globe, but I think the experience really helped me in the long run, especially in college. Hosting students taught me how to negotiate differences, build common ground, and take a personal interest in world events. It made me more curious and inclusive. Hosing was a struggle at times, but I’m so glad we did it. I’m still in touch with a lot of the students who lived with us. We always hosted through an organization in Oregon called Andeo. They were great! I went to Spain through them too. I think they specialize in short-term homestays.

  60. Stephanie says:


    I am very interested in Germany and want to host a German (preferably boy) of college student age (20 – 22)! Where can I go as an American college student to get information and read through profiles to pick a German exchange student?

    Please let me know!


    Stephanie C.

  61. admin says:

    I don’t think you as a student can host another student.

  62. Never Again says:

    Never again will I host an exchange student. It has been a very bad experience for our whole family. What we received on paper was not what we got. Our students bio said she was active in dance, gymnastics, piano, liked to cook and garden. None of this was true she hadn’t done any of these activities since she was 6 and is now 16. She didn’t even try to get to know us and was upset when we would ask her how her day went. We were told it was basically none of our business. She would stay up til all hours and would have problems getting up in the morning. I eventually told her if she missed the bus I wasn’t driving her to school and she would take a zero for the day.

    She expected us to take her on trips to NYC and New Orleans and other cities. Her only interest is shopping. She was very ungrateful for anything that we did for her. Nothing was ever good enough. She told us we were too strict…her only chores were to keep her room clean, clean the bathroom every other week(my daughter would clean on opposite weeks) and help with dinner dishes. She expected coming here was going to be a big party every night. She is now living with our area coordinator until they can find her a new home.

    Our coordinator did not do her job and help when we were having issues. I think she is just doing it for the free trips.

  63. Jennifer says:

    Where is this young lady from? I was thinking of becoming a host family for a nice young high school girl

  64. Never Again says:

    She is from the Ukraine. They have found her a new host family, who has more money and can take her places so I guess now she should be happy. I think she was also helping herself to the wine in the house. I am just glad she is gone. I think if we would have had one of the boys in her group things would have been better. She came with unrealistic expectations and is used to having everything her way at home.

  65. mazevo65 says:

    We have had positive experiences hosting throughout the years but this year has been hell and back. We will most likely never host again or if we do we will NEVER touch Europe again. The agencies over there do a POOR job of prepping those students and helping them understand that this is the USA not their home country. Leave your habits and lifestyle in your country and learn to adapt to OURS.

    Currently we have a boy who is a royal pain. Rude, does not show appreciation or thank you, his mother is rude (so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), cold, constantly puts down our country, and tries to convince my son that he is a better athlete than him (which is hilarious).

    I dream of the month of June. We were actually going to take him on a trip this summer before he left–not happening. I postponed the trip until after he leaves.

    If someone were to ask I would say DON’T do it. It seems like the kids get worse and worse. It saddens me that in my own house I have to hide food but if I didn’t he would leave nothing for no one.

    If a representative comes seeking you out close the door on their face.

  66. MamaMia says:

    We tried hosting our first exchange student this year. From day one we had nothing but problems with her. She would lock herself in her room for hours at a time, would not participate in family meals, she barely spoke to my husband and I even when we tried to talk to her about her home life, school, her participating with the sport she was involved in. She lied to friends of ours stating we refused to let her be in sports when in fact I kept trying to get her to be involved in something at school so she could make friends. This girl was horrible. The experience was horrible. After meeting with our coordinator (several times) we were encouraged to try to get another student in our home and host two students at the same time. Our hope was that the second student would help bring the first one out of her shell and interact with us as a family. The first one was having issues adapting to a home with a family (she lived with her grandma back home and rarely saw her mom). She also was not used to children. (I have 3 small children.) So we got a second student in our home. It was great for about a month. The first student came out of her shell. She was interacting with us. We took them shopping, to a college football game, spent time with them. It was great. Then after homecoming weekend they both came home hung over (sleeping all day, running to the bathroom constantly, headaches, gorging on food — I’m young enough to remember my college days so I knew the girls had been drinking the night before). We told them since they had been gone for so many days running with friends that we wanted a nice family weekend the following weekend to go shopping maybe go to a local event). All hell broke loose. They both decided that a home with their new American friends, the girls that party every weekend and whose parents take them to the local bar to drink, would be a much better time than living with us. The first girl at this point had reverted back to being sullen and moody. Refusing to speak to us. Refusing to eat any meals that we made. At this point I was done dealing with her. She ended up with another family. NOT the home she wanted to go to. She made a mistake and told the coordinator she was looking for a childless older couple. So they found her a nice retired pastor and his wife to live with. She hated it. Within 24 hours she was telling her home organization that she was being punished and demanded to be moved to another home. She was not moved and has had similar problems in her new home. The second girl wanted to initially stay with us, but after the first student didn’t get her way of moving in with her new friend she started pushing the second girl to move out as well. It was a mess. I swore that we would NEVER host again. However I had a moment of insanity and we have decided to host another student this coming fall. My suggestion is to READ the bios carefully. After our experience and going back to re-read the bios of those girls. I would NEVER have picked them now. The first student didn’t share any of our common interests and she listed friends as her main objective to coming here not the host family. (The first student admitted to writing out her moms letter and after reading both her letter and her moms letter she went back and forth about facts of her life completely contradicting herself in both letters…) The second girl mentioned several times how important her friends were to her and that she didn’t have a good relationship with her family after her parents divorced. Lots of red flags that came up after the fact. Having a coordinator that was seasoned enough to look for these things and provide a better match would have been a better situation for our family. Also the coordinator should know your family so that she isn’t just placing students to earn money/trips. Make sure you get someone you trust to place you with a student that will work in your home. Make sure you trust your coordinator to take action if there are issues. Our coordinator was too new to the exchange program. We were unfortunately her first placing experience. We learned a lot from last year and I hope that this next experience will go better.

  67. Amy says:

    Ha, that is all a little ridiculous. I was a student myself and it was no where near as strict. You can’t decide before hand which rules you’ll enforce on which student, it all depends on what they’re like as a person. Honesty, so many students would rather go home than stay in an environment like yours. I feel bad for your future students, way too strict with things. I know it isn’t a holiday but it sounds like your sole mission in life is to devoid fun in the home. Doesn’t surprise me your student didn’t spend much time at home. I suggest any other host family to look for other student’s testimonials and see it from THEIR perspective. It’s the only way you’ll both have an enjoyable time.

  68. mazevo65 says:

    Saddens me because the respond from Amy on May 5th is just the reason so many problems are occurring with the exchange students. In my community there are 9 exchange students including us and 8 (yes 8) of them have been having serious issues with their kids and the only reason why the 9th one is not is because he is a professed Evangelical Christian and lives with a a pastor and his wife.

    Our coordinator is working OT to address issues and I have stepped in as well to support other families since this is our 9th time hosting. The theme is the same: ungrateful, expect to do as they darn well please, do not want to compromise, want to live by their own rules, do not want to engage with family and instead spend it texting, FB, etc. So Amy based on those numbers I hardly doubt it is always the family. American families volunteer and do NOT get paid to have to pander and cater to. The families should not have to adapt to the student but the student needs to adapt to the family and the USA. Leave your habits behind and experience a new thing–I thought that is what the program was all about.

    We are hosting next year–a boy from Thailand. Europe good riddance.

  69. mazevo65 says:

    I mean…how dare we have rules in our homes that belong to us where you are a “guest” in it (and the USA) that costs me money in additional food, electricity, water, gas.

  70. Terri says:

    We are currently in our 3rd exchange year with a student. The first two were when our sons were young (5 and 10) and we had a girl from Brazil for 6 months and a boy from Germany for a year. We had wonderful experiences with both of them and are still friends with them. I was a coordinator for a very good exchange program at the time, so I was privvy to students from many different places. The European students are generally more open and free spirited and tend to be very social. We had some good ones and a few challenging ones, despite the screening. This time we chose an Asian student (south korea) because they are generally more strict and disciplined, like our family is. It is imperative to have a student that has the same likes and dislikes. It is your house, you make the rules regardless of who lives there – your own family, friends, relatives, exchange student. Just remember that when you communicate the rules that you allow for continous communication about them, as many times language or cultural misunderstandings can occur. We just got back from visiting our now 30 something year old german exchange student last month and he was reminding me how I had grounded him because he didn’t do one of his chores! We look forward to an enriching year this year with our new exchange student. It can be a wonderful adventure for your family! Remember, it’s like anything, whatever is worth it is not always easy.

  71. Nicole says:

    can you tell me what company ypu went through for the student exchange program? the ones that I have seen require you host a student for free, but the experiences to have another in your home are great. What can help off set those expenses? Please reply

  72. Katie NOLA says:

    Our German exchange student (15 f) will be here next week. We are excited and she seems to be as well. We have already talked via facebook and plan on Skypeing this weekend. We have a 6 year old and 2 year old of our own and they just know someone is coming to stay with us. We are keeping our thoughts optimistic and plan on communicating regularly with pur local coordinator. Thanks for some of the tips and we will post our own during our experience.

  73. admin says:

    We used Youth for Understanding. The key is a program that takes their students thru intensive training BEFORE they ever come stateside. It should weed out those not ready for such an undertaking. As far as offsetting expenses, there is small part you can claim in your taxes when you file the next year…I’m pretty sure I mentioned that above?

  74. Grace says:

    Great advice! We just completed our home study with YFU and are expecting our 15 y/o German boy very soon. He have three younger sons, too. I found this blog while looking for etiquette tips, customs (I’m a hugger, not a hand-shaker). I’ll definitely subscribe to hear more omments.

  75. Tony says:

    I hosted an exchange student from Poltava, Ukraine last year. It was a nightmare. I had kicked him out of my house twice but the OCEAN in Tempe, AZ ( non profit org ) lied to me they could not find any family to take the student from Ukraine and I got stuck with him for 5 months. He was so rude, messy, fifthy,lazy etc… and he fought with me right back when ever I told him so. It cost me a lot of money and MY TIME plus gifts for him during 5 months ( clothes + shoes + Ipod…etc ). When he arrived in PHX. He was 140 lbs and when he left my house after 5 months he was 164 lbs with 6 ft frame.
    He never said “thank you” when he got home but his grand father send me an email and stabbed me on the back saying it was not his grand son’ fault and it was the host family’s problem besides his parents paid to OCEAN ( non profit org ) $5,000 in USD. The bottom line is DO NOT host any students, using your money to travel and no need to bring the “new culture ” to your home. In my case, the student family and student never appreciated what I had done. They were the bastards ( English phrase ). I just wondering because the student came from Ukraine, one of the poorest country of Eastern Europe? or because he was born out of wetlock ( no father ). He told me so during the 5 months staying here ( AZ ). NEVER HOST EXCHANGE STUDENT AGAIN. NO MATTER HE/SHE COMES FROM UKRAINE OR WHAT COUNTRY FROM EUROPE or ASIA. You opened your warm heart + your home + your time + money and ending up it was a nightmare or the disarter.

  76. Anne-Louise says:

    Hello <3

    I'm going to be an exchangestudent in the US next year (2014-2015) :-D
    I'm so excited and really looking forward to learn about the American culture etc.
    And I'm sorry about the bad experiences some of you have had :-( But just remember that not all exchange students are like that.. :-)

    In a few months I'll be writing my student letter – do you have any advice? – I mean what do you look after etc.

    Btw. Right now my biggest concern is: Do I get a good host family?
    Because I really don't want to change host family and I want "my" year to be amazing for me (and my hostfamily).. :-D


  77. admin says:

    Biggest advice. Be honest. If you are a late sleeper and don’t do sports, say that. Many students like to write what they think a host family will like, trying to make themselves look like the more interesting and fun choice than other applicants. In the end, you will be miserable if you lie. Humor is okay, willingness to respect rules and open to new and different things is also important to say.

  78. Jacqui says:

    The student I am hosting this year decorated her letter with drawings and stickers it caught my eye, made me think she was bubbly and creative. She arrives in 2 days here’s hoping the stickers didn’t lie

  79. Tony says:

    To: All exchange students
    My advices are: respect the host family, be organized, do the housework, keep tidy and clean.DO NOT sleep until 11 AM or 12 noon or surf the internet all day long such as facebook or listen music, etc… Most the American host families are very nice. If they could not afford to bring ( the students ) in, they do not host. In my case, I got the “bad student ” from Poltava, Ukraine. He was so lazy, unorganized, fifthy, and VERY RUDE. He told me that his parents paid USD $5,000 ( five thousand in USD ) to agency for his studying in the USA. And the host family had to do all the work , including cooking 3 meals / a day plus snacks for him.
    He was my 1st exchange student and he gave me a “bad imgage” about the European students.
    I did complain to O.C.E.A.N in Tempe, AZ several times. However, the agency lied to me that they could not find another host family because the student had a “bad file” and no family would want to take him in and I got stuck with him until the end.
    I had learned this lesson from the Ukraine student and that was why I decided that NO MORE exchange student staying in my house. I spent a lot of money + my TIME + efforts to host the Ukraine student during last year (2012). And his grand father told me that (via email) he already paid the agency USD $5,000 and I still owed his grandson another 5 months living in the USA. Could you believe it? They were the ” bastards “. The student was born out of wedlock ( no father ).

    I know that not all the students are the same. But we do not need that kind of crabs in our house in the USA. You want us to host so you can have a “student visa ” and free shelter + food + transportation + gifts , etc… and your agency gets money from your parents. Your thought that the host family got paid. BUT you were wrong. American host families are very generous in the world. We have a warm heart + open door and welcome you to our homes BUT some of you “blew” it.

    Now I tell you what . There are 330 million people in the USA and only 30,000 students want to come to USA. However, every year some students could not come here ( America ) due to not enough HOST FAMILY. We hosted ONCE and no more. Because the bad students left us with the ” spoiled apples ”
    or let me put this way, you gave us the ” bad image of European students ” in the USA.

    Good luck to you to find the host family next year.

  80. Tony says:

    To Exchange students: DO NOT ask your host family
    to eat dinner at 9 PM ( in the evening ). Most Americans eat dinner between 6:30 PM and 7 PM
    so they would do dishes and clean the kitchen after eatng.
    European students have a habit eat dinner VERY LATE such as 9 PM or 10 PM. We don’t do that in the US. Don’t tell the host family you can not follow that rule and you can not eat early. Too bad!

  81. Ian says:

    To Tony:

    I understand your frustration, but your English is painful to read.

  82. Nicole says:

    I really enjoyed this article, and even a lot of the comments. I recently was hired as a Community Coordinator for the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA). A lot of the problems I’ve noticed in the comments seem like they could have been avoided from the start or at least corrected before it got out of hand with the support that host families are supposed to receive from their Community Coordinators.

    It helps to be prepared with a better understanding of different cultures and also how exchange students typically respond to their displacement once they get over here. They do go through a culture shock and home sickness where they may withdraw, develop feelings of depression, etc. CETUSA has done a really great job of training me on such things, which I already had a fairly good understanding of with my educational background in psychology. Also, these are teenagers, and it is completely normal for teenagers to push their boundaries to see how much freedom they can get away with, especially if they were not used to having so much freedom in their home country, or even if they were used to more freedom. Think about it, it’s like letting your own kids do whatever they want and then start trying to enforce rules on them when they’re teens. (Good luck with that, by the way!)

    It is important that Coordinators find a good match between the host family and the exchange student. Some students need a strong hand and a lot of structure. Other students can handle the responsibility of having more freedom. Some may fall somewhere in between.

    I know that exchange students in the CETUSA program are screened for maturity, independence, and suitability before being accepted into the program to begin with. Of course each program has their own process of screening students and I am sure there are ways that the students are able to manipulate their scores on such screenings if they want to be accepted bad enough.

    That being said, I also know that CETUSA requires the exchange students to not only abide by the local laws but also the rules of the host family home as well. If the student does not abide be the rules of the host family, they will be discharged from the program and sent home.

    It’s important to focus on making it a good experience for everyone… the student, the host family, and the school. When you start getting too caught up on enforcing all these rules, it may put the student on the defensive which will only cause more problems. Sometimes you have to take a step back, regroup, and reach an agreement to start fresh with the understanding and agreement that everyone will be respectful of everyone from this point forward with clear expectations of what the rules and consequences will be. Find out what the root of the bad behavior is really stemming from and come up with a way that works for everyone to move forward.

    Sometimes it’s a simple matter of a mispercetion or miscommunication, so it’s important to communicate effectively – that is talking to get your point across, making sure your message was received accurately, and listening to the feedback you get from the other person as well. With culture and language barriers that are inherent in these situations, it is important to take the extra time and effort to make sure all aspects of effective communication are taking place.

    Good luck to everyone, and thank you to everyone who has opened their homes and hearts to students from other countries. If any of you are in the Lubbock, Texas, area, feel free to reach out to me or any CETUSA coordinator in the US for that matter! I’m hosting my first exchange student this year as well, a 15 year old girl from S. Korea, and I am so excited to meet her in just a few more days!

  83. Tony says:

    To Ian ( Aug 12, 2013 ).
    We have to speak out this kind of ” exchange student ” business and the truth it is ugly because the agency gets the money from the student’s parents and the host family have to deal with the ” bad students “, mostly from Europe. Specially the students from Ukraine.
    They think they’ve already paid to the agency
    ( Non-profit org ) then they could do anything they want in the host family house.
    Why don’t you let someone to put their “c” or fingers to your “hole” for a while and you would feel how “painful” it is ? You must be a student from Europe. Another “jerk”.
    It’s not worth it to host. A lot of headaches and stress during the student staying in the house.
    UK and Ireland people speaking Engish too. Why don’t the European students go there?

  84. Kate says:

    Listen to all the advice given above about setting up rules, discussing them and making the student responsible for following them. This is not all about having fun but a learning experience for all involved. We just came off a10 month exchange and the family totally felt drained and will probably never host another student again. I can not say it was a god awful experience but I wish I would of been better prepared. We were on the tail end of the recruiting and felt a bit pressured to take a student in. There were only 5 students left and I am sure the agency felt pressure to find homes. The agency did not do a good job of explaining rules, expectations or cultural differences to us. My husband was an exchange student once and also had European parents so I think the agency thought we knew. My husband was raised with more American expectations of rules and behavior than assumed.
    So we look at the bios of the remaining students all boys and I was leery of getting a boy. At the time our daughter was close to 18 in her senior yr of high school and our son was 12. My daughter felt a boy would be better so to avoid any more female teenage drama in the house and our son would have someone to bond with as well. So we went through the bios and picked a 16yr boy from Berlin, Germany. We also decided for on 5 months he could stay with us nut he was 10onth student. The agency was hapoy with that. Cool we thought we traveled there, my husband lived there as a teen, and his mother was from there. Something familiar we can discuss.
    We have a few email exchanges to try and get to know him better but he was not real forth coming with info. His mother emailed us to discuss herself a bit more. I am telling you now if you read a kids bio and see red flags don’t pick the kid. That is what we did. In hindsight there was a lot if clues to this boy we overlooked feeling the pressure to choose. Kids seem better on paper or they don’t tell the whole truth. Our kid was pretty truthful but there were signs of issues.
    Here are some things to consider…..
    1) don’t get an only child they do not relate well to having siblings and are spoiled to some degree
    2) if they show lack of work ethic, pass like no chores at home.
    3) if they have average grades-it is hard enough to come here and learn in English in the first place they should have good/excellent grades in there native language and in English. Our was an average student who though school was more for socializing.
    4)if they are from a single parent family -this could go either way. The kid could be very mature and responsible or not. Ours was responsible in someways but was left to his own devices at home so he thought he was mature to do what he wanted here. Big no. You are not mature/ grown up if mommy is still doing everything and paying for everything. Our student had no chores and these kids do not get jobs as teenagers either compared to there American counter parts
    5)a big city kid to live out in a rural area- nope. He complained of the silence and the lack of transportation.
    6) having two teens close in age or same age is not always a good idea
    The student arrives he seems ok. He seemed a bit lost we would help him out. Our daughter took him under her wing and let him hang with her and introduced him to other kids his age she was a senior, he a junior. She did not expect him to want to hang with her and all her girlfriends. He played soccer, was on the ski team and track team. We did tons of family activities that are part of our culture. He went on the exchange programs trips, etc. Then after Christmas things sort of fell apart. He decided to break a few program rules like drive a car, flunk classes and leave without asking. He thought we would not find out about the car or flunking classes but we did. We said we were disappointed and he broke our trust which is inherently given. He was going to be sent home he broke major program rules. We have him 3 wks to straighten up the grades and to earn our trust back. He pulled it together. His parents were very upset with him as well. To this day his mother always thanks us for being responsible with him. We honestly liked him. On the other hand our kids did not so much. Our daughter was tired of taking him with her. Her friends would get mad at her if she did not. She wanted her space and her friends. Our son did not like him. They really both tried to befriend and have him as a brother but he did not give much in return to them. They both just wanted to talk with him and get to know him and his thoughts but he had nothing upstairs. So in the end my daughter just ended up alienating herself from her friends and him because of him not understanding he needed to back off from her friends. And yes we talked to him but one of our daughters friends was not a good influence. It was just very stressful to deal with the hurt feelings, misunderstanding and mistrust. He was never really disciplined at home. Thank goodness he did not drink or use drugs while here because I had learned he would brag about it at school. It was hard to deal with a child that was opposite of your own. Our kids are both academically sound, want to learn new things and are driven. I think our students mother wanted him to do an exchange program so he would grow up but I felt it was not my job. I also never got much in the way of thanks from him or appreciation. He took a lot for granted. I do hope we did teach him a few things about work ethics and responsibility.

    So I hope this helps others.

  85. Tony says:

    To: Kate and who ever hosted the exchange students in the past.
    I was exhausted for the whole 5 months with my student from Poltava, Ukraine in 2012. The student never said ” thank you ” when he returned home. During the time he stayed with me. He fought back with me when ever I said to him about the rules in the house. He’s also 16 years old. His grand Dad told me that I still owed his grand son another 5 months. I said to contact the agency ( O.C.E.A.N ) in Tempe, AZ for the money back. The agency knew what was going on at my house. However, they did not take the student away from my house because I have a nice house by myself with 4 bedroom and 3 bath and I am a very good cook. He looked very good when he left my house with 160 lbs and 6ft tall. When he arrived at my place he was 140 lbs.
    Who ever said : ” DON’T DO IT “. That person was right. For me, it cost my TIME and my money for ( new clothes + new shoes + new wallet + new Iphone etc…) plus the food + school lunch + gym membership I paid for ..and everyday I took him to school and picked him up then to gym and picked him up.
    He only paid for his haircut during 5 months living here ( AZ ).
    The bottom line is : NEVER HOST ANY STUDENTs no matter he/she comes from Europe or Asia. The business of ” hosting a student ” is very ugly. The agency get the money and you have to do all the work for 5 or 10 months.
    In 2013, I used my money to see Europe instead of hosting a student and I felt great. I did not need to bring the ” new culture ” to my home any more.

  86. Kate says:

    Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I have heard about others having issues with students from this area. I do not know much about the exchange programs that you had but have done my research and not all are not equal in the way they deal with exchange students or the host parent(s) when issues arise. I also now know that some exchange programs are much better about screening their potential students and in providing education to host parents about cultural differences that may arise and cause issues. I wish I would of been better educated on those differences. It may have helped to avoid some of our own issues. I guess it was a learning experience for us but one that I am reluctant to repeat to see if I could do better.

    You should have been better informed about what expenses you were responsible for and what the student was responsible for. It does make you feel bad about how it turns out and makes you feel somewhat bitter about the whole experience to swear it off and never do it again.

  87. Tim says:

    Every experience is different – and ever host families expectations are different. But I have to say that many of the negatives posts are ridiculous. You’re getting a one-sided story and I’d bet my shirt the kids story will be MUCH different.

    The 7 times we’ve hosted a student, we’ve gone by our OWN rules. They have always been VERY simple and very effective.

    Rule number 1: “Don’t do anything stupid.”
    Rule number 2: “Your allowed to make mistakes”.
    Rule number 3: “Understand that we have ZERO tolerance to drugs and/or those who use them.”

    The rest of the year we work things out as needed. Honest. That’s it.

    Yes, we paid for cell service. Its important!
    Yes, we paid for ALL food, “some” clothing, xmas gifts, vacation expenses, etc. Night’s out with friends, etc. Our students are treated EXACTLY the same as our own kids.

    Yes, they helped out around the house. Not because they were told too, but because they saw something needed to be done, and they did it. Or we asked politely, as a favor. It always got done.

    We never had ANY strict curfews, assigned chores, no time-tables, rooms check, friend checks (require meeting and approving any/all friends), screen/eavesdrop of phone calls, etc. We allowed them the freedom be a teenager. And we respected them from day one.

    All we asked was they be part of our family, and do things with us. That’s it – nothing else. And it’s worked out wonderfully EVERY SINGLE TIME. We’ve hosted 5 girls, and 2 boys. I can’t honestly say boys were “easier” then girls. I thought they all had unique challenges, but none were “harder” then another. Most were from Germany/Austria, but we also hosts girls from Japan — who at first are VERY shy and VERY meek, but opened up like a flower within a few weeks – given the space they needed to get comfortable.

    Now, we also have first hand knowledge of the host families that didnt work out too. And 100% of the time — it was the HOST families strict rules, and unbendable expectations, the lack of trust or respect, the refusal to allow them to have a private space or time to themselves, the invasion of privacy (a BIG problem – including sexual misconduct) that destroyed the experience.

    It wasnt the host families fault “some of the time” — it was 100% of the time in a dozen ‘breakups’ that I’ve witnessed, and got both sides of the story. Bottom line: Idiots hosting bright kids never works.

    So – If your considering hosting, remember that your not doing ANYONE ANY favors if your normal rules and your personality are that of a control freak!

    - If you are going to have strict rules — DO NOT HOST.
    - If you think teens are just children, and should be supervised at all times – DO NOT HOST!
    - If you forbid your student the basic respect of privacy when they want/deserve it — DO NOT HOST.
    - If your money situation is tight – DO NOT HOST
    - If you expect a perfect student – DO NOT HOST
    - If you demand they do lots of chores – DO NOT HOST
    - If you aren’t interested in them as a person, or thier culture – DO NOT HOST.
    - If your religious beliefs or agenda MUST include your students adaption – DO NOT HOST.
    - If you or your spouse is sexually attracted to young people — DO NOT HOST. You WILL be caught, you WILL be arrested. You WILL spend time in jail.

    Just remember: Exchange students arent just selected by who can pay the agency. They MUST qualify first and pass several interviews in thier home countries – and then find a sponsor. These are not easy steps! Make no mistake – most of these kids are VERY bright and VERY polite. There may be some exceptions, but I have never met an exception yet – and I have met literally hundreds of exchange students over the years. I HAVE met dozens and dozens of amazingly STUPID host parents. All Control freaks and zeolots thinking they are doing these kids some “big favor” and how these kids “owe them” for the distinct priveledge of living in thier home.

    Please – if this describes you, DO NOT HOST.

  88. Jacqui says:

    Well said Tim,
    We are in the 6th week of hosting our 1st exchange student, a girl from Japan we have the exact same rules and philosophy as you and things are going beautifully. She is funny and happy we laugh alot and she is best friends with our 14 yr old daughter.
    We went entered hosting with the thought process “how would we want our child to be treated if she were away” we follow that and the result is *success*. So far I love hosting and our student!

  89. Kate says:

    I think what people are trying to say is that there are agency rules and your own house rules which in many cases overlap like no drugs, maintaining good grades, no driving etc. These are rules to keep the kids safe and on track. Your OWN rules maybe those that are not defined by the agency such as helping with chores, and doing things as a family. I think if teens have an understanding of the basic expectations not necessarily strict rules then things will go smoother. Some families function better if the expectations are defined and that is not only to the exchange student but to there own kids as well. By doing this it can possibly prevent any misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations or hurt feelings.

  90. Amer says:

    I want to host a German student in my home in Jordan because I’m learning duetch ..
    So if there anyone want to please contact me on my email

  91. Chris says:

    Very well spoken Tim! However it sounds like there are a few exceptions to success. Consider the human population as a whole has it’s very small percentage of knuckleheads. So we must expect to run across that same small percentage of jerks as host families and students at some time. I fully agree with your list of Do Nots. Remember that T.V. show “Wife Swap”? Look at how many goofy, maladjusted,and intolerant families were exposed.

  92. AJ says:


    No offense, but you are just completely wrong. This is the first year I’ve ever had to ask that our student be removed.

    I don’t think I’m studpid either. However, your remark was. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. You can’t FORCE a child to want to participate with your family and learn the American Culture. That is what they are here for. Another child was turned down so this child could come over and spend 24/7 in her room. There are days I don’t see her at all. Ever. If I’ve had ten conversations with her in the two months she has been here I’d be surprised. All at my prompting.

    She has very few rules other than try to participate in family events (not all if she didn’t want to, just some) and abide by the orgainzation rules. Even some of those I would have let slide (like dating if she wanted to). She can come and go as long as I know who she is with for safety reasons. I don’t have strict curfews. However, she has made no friends at all and never hangs out with anyone. Even though my children have indroduced them to other children. She doesn’t want to do anything, with anyone, at all. To the point of being completely rude.

    She spends 100% of her free time on facetime with another boy from her country also in the program. That’s a no-no. Not our rules, the organizations rules. She won’t answer phone calls or text messages from her rep and will go days without saying a word to us or our children at all. She only talks to us when she wants something out of us (material things or a taxi service). We paid for her food, entertainment, expenses, etc and now find out from the school she has run up quite a high bill on lunch expenses while also making her own lunches daily.

    There is NEVER a time where it’s 100% one person or the others fault. We werent a good match for her. We expected a young lady, not a child. Someone responsible that could be trusted to come and go and would be treated as such. That’s not what we received. She isn’t the girl in the bio. She clearly needs a family who is unable to speak so she doesn’t have to waste her time with stupid small talk like “How was your day?,” and a family that has no job or responsibilities so they can spend their days catering to her shopping needs. I work full-time, as does my husband. So I guess if being employed means you are to blame for your foreign exchange student not working out than you’ve figured us out.

    We opened our home and heart to this child and she completely rejected not only us, but the organization that brought her here (she is a scholorship kid; how I don’t know), her family and the school. She is a shut-in who wasn’t screened properly. She has no business being in the United States. She won’t go into a clothing store alone so I’m not sure how she made it half way around the world on her own.

    We wanted to help a child whose parents couldn’t afford to send her otherwise. She has no appreciation for what her parents are doing to have her here.

    Tim, if you feel it’s all one-sided you need to be more active with your own program. Clearly, you’re missing something.

    Finally, I will leave with this. I’ve read this entire thread and I’ve seen at least three people talk of their issues with children from Ukraine. My current exchange student is also from Ukraine. Just food for thought for those of you looking in the future for children to host. She was my first and last Ukraine experience.

    There are many, many good children out there who know what the program is about and want to actively work through it. Just as there are many, many host families who know what they are doing and open their hearts and homes to these mainly wonderful children.

    It’s not one-sided and what do host families get out of this other than cultural exchange, which is the whole point? Their not the ones in another country experiencing other cultures. If you’re not getting that it’s time to move on. No matter which side your on.

  93. Lise Almenningen says:

    May I copy your tips for prospective host parents onto my blog ( exchange students / host parents in Norway (credited you of course)? They were incredibly easy to understand and answered questions I have heard.

  94. admin says:

    Anyone may repost any of my tips as long as you post that they came from this blog (please use the name) AND provide a link back to the original article. Thanks for thinking of me!

  95. Crystal says:

    Im a host mom this year and It has really stressed me out. I ended up with a 17 year old girl from japan. At first it was great but after about 6 weeks everything started going down hill. She had a friend that she wanted to go out with which was ok with me but I told her I have to meet who you are going to be with. I meet the little girl and she was a sweet little girl as far as I knew. Now it has become a nightmare. when she would end up spending time with this friend she never would come home on time plus my host daughter didnt have a cell so I had no way to call her when she was out. I ask the friends she was with for there number incase I need to contact her when she was out. They gave me there number but when I would text to find out why she wasnt home on time I got no answer back. After that She would tell me someone In knew was coming to get her and I found out that it was someone else she was with. I told her she couldnt go out with this little girl anymore. One of my rules was that i have to meet who you are going out with. Here we are in November and I just found out last night that she called the area cooridator and told him that I wont let her go out and do anything so she ask if she could go some where else so she could go out every night. Apparently my corridator has knew about this for a month and did dont call me or email me to tell me she was havng a problem. The kids got there report cards end of september and she ended up with a D in some classes so I took the internet from her because I wanted her to work on her grades. She wait till everyone is asleep to do homework. I found that out because I woke up one night and she was still up doing homework at 1 in the morning. I really have no idea how to handle this situation. When I got ito this program I was told that they was suppose to live by the family rules, but that not how the program is handling it.My 3 rules for going out with friends are: homework before you go out, be home on time, and i have to know who your with. I have 3 other kids that are my own and they know the rules. Not sure what to do about this do I let here stay or tell them to come get her?

  96. Kel says:

    Enjoy the comments and feed back, but my question is a military family can the exchange student stay on base with us or no? I am just researching now and would like to read more of your thoughts. We are a military family staying on base we have a 2 year old son and 2 dogs. I am 26 and my husband 25 we have been married almost 3 years.I stay at home now so I would provide transportation to and from school and whatever else the student may need. We have lived over seas before in Japan actually for 3 years. Would you think we would be candidates for this or no since it would probably be tough on us? Open to all feedback.

  97. admin says:

    We only did it stateside…the whole point is for the student to get the entire American experience…they won’t be able to get that on base, so I would wait til you get back stateside. As with any longterm visitors on base, that would need individual approval from the base commander, so I would start there if you were insistent on pursuing this. The host agency may not approve that as well…again, it’s not a true exchange experience!

  98. Kel says:

    We are stateside right now for sure the next 3 years but we are on base so maybe our next stateside duty station. But thank you

  99. Tony says:

    Hi Crystal,
    If I were you, I would kick her out NOW. It happened to me too in 2012, the boy from Ukraine. He stressed me out and the agency told me that to give them 1 week to find another host family. But they lied to me to delay the process and finally I ended up to host the student for the whole semester ( half year ) . I was so angry at the student almost every day but the agency ( O.C.E.A.N in Tempe, AZ ) said since my student was 16 and half, a minor. You would get stuck with him until the class ended unless sex was involved or the student got grade D.
    In your case, she got a “D”. Just enough to get rid of her.
    After the lesson of my student from Ukraine, I NEVER host any student again no matter where he/she comes from. It cost me a lot of money to host an exchange student, gifts and every time, we had a fight. The student said ” my parents paid $7000 to the agency ” to get here ( AZ, USA ).
    Who ever said ” DON’T DO IT “. That was CORRECT.I did not know this website after I had many problems or a “nightmare” with my Ukraine student and it was a disarter. The bottom line , the business of ” host an exchange student ” is VERY UGLY. Call coordinator every day and tell him/her that you could not stand and host the student any more. DO NOT buy any gift even for Christmas, Birthday, etc… Ignore her and let her eat by herself and clean after eating. DO NOT let her go out without your permission since she is living under your roof. The bottom line she has to live under your rules.
    Good luck to you.

  100. Ali says:

    I am thinking about hosting for the first time next fall, and I have been trying to research the many exchange organizations. Your blog was a very interesting find, but some of the comments are a little scary. Does anyone have any recommendations for organizations to use or avoid?

  101. admin says:

    Make a list of the ones you find online. Then google the name of that organization plus the word complaint or use other negative words…find a lot of complaints and issues, I’d say skip that organization.

  102. Sam says:

    Yes, be very careful. I agree with the commenter who said “if you or our spouse is sexually attracted to young people, do not host”. My husband must be, because he made our life a living hell for 10 months. Our exchange student, a female from a very poor country (eastern Europe), needed a lot of attention from my husband and he responded. She was sexually provocative to him in front of me and even jumped into his arms one time. I was trying to figure out what was going on. I spoke to the coordinator several times, and she was not helpful. From the beginning, our student tried to bond with my husband, not me. She told us many times that her parents and community hated Americans. She told many lies, and said that all people from her country lie and cheat. This was a scholarship program for children, so they didn’t have to pay for the program. I will never do this again.

  103. Jackie says:

    I am currently hosting a 17 yr old from Japan who lays in bed all day and doesn’t speak to anyone. She has made zero friends and is rude to my 14 yr old daughter. I ask her to help cook with me because her bio I read to select her listed “cooking and baking” as her main hobbies, every time I ask her she just ignores me. I finally sat her down and had her read her bio and asked why she listed cooking and piano as her hobbies, she was shocked as she read it. She asked “who wrote this”? I said “you” and she said NO I do not know how to play piano, I do not like to cook or bake then she went through the rest of paper work I was given and she said none of it was true. The organization sent her middle school report card because her current one was not very impressive. My point is the student info you receive to make a selection is all made up to attract you to host. This experience is horrible and I will never do it again she is literally sleeping her 10 months away.

  104. Jen says:

    You should contact the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students. I’d be interested to know why you hosted to begin with? Bottom line: your husband is the adult. What is it that you tolerated for 10 months? My guess is you are still married to this guy. I could be wrong and this is not my concern. My bet is that the area representative is still placing students. You really should report this to CSFES. To think this girl was a scholarship student, which means our tax dollars made it possible for her to arrive in America with little, if any, supervision.

  105. Nicky says:

    I’m hosting a 15 year old girl from South Korea this year. I can’t complain too much. She is not outgoing by any means, can’t name any of the friends she’s made, and has only done something one time with a friend from her school in the 3 months she’s been here so far. She does spend most of her time in her room and talking to friends and family back home, which we have addressed and has improved. She has also stopped up the toilet twice in a bathroom she’s the only one to ever use. But besides that, she hasn’t caused any trouble. She cleans up after herself for the most part. She likes helping out with cooking dinner every night. We never have to tell her to keep up with her studies. She’s quiet and doesn’t cause any disturbance in our home. Any time we ask her to do something, she complies or tries to do better the next time. We hope she will become more involved in things while she’s here instead of hanging around our house all the time for us to entertain, and we have been talking to her about this so that she knows what is expected because we know she can’t read our minds. A lot of the time, it is a basic case of home sickness when these kids isolate themselves in their bedroom with a negative attitude, so you just have to help them get past that home sickness and remind them of what they came here to accomplish in the first place!

  106. Tony says:

    Your former student must came from Ukraine. The students from Ukraine are the worst because they were from the Soviet bloc and became independent from Russia in 1990 after the Berlin wall fall. Your student got the scholarship via FLEX ( US scholarship for the eastern Europe students under the Soviet bloc ). The US paid the agency ( non profit org ) a little due to the program. The agency has to find and screen the US host family. And the student get an allowance of $120 a month from FLEX during their stay with the host family. Most the students use that money to buy gifts for their family back home and buy for themselves. I hosted a student from Ukraine in 2012. Even though he was not qualified from FLEX program due to his poor English. Therefore, his family had to pay USD $7000 to agency for 5 months ( 1 semester ) to stay in the US. Before hia arrival, the agency sent to me via email his profile look very good. When he came and stay with me, it was an opposite. He said he did not write like that. The agency in Kiev, Ukraine wrote and corrected it for him so the US host family would choose him. He said he could not write more than 1 paragraph.
    During the 5 months, I told him in the front of 2 directors of agency at my house that he was not WELCOME any more due to his behavior such as lazyness, sloppy, fifthy, unorganized, rude etc…He said because his family lives in the farm and do not take a shower daily. And I am a neat person and a business man.
    I was not happy with the student and got stuck with him for 5 months. The agency told me that only they would expel the student home was sex involved or he got the D grade in class. The reason was the agency signed the contract and got the money from his parents already.
    It also cost me the money to pay for everything for him during 5 months and my TIME and the most important was the emotion distress which he had caused.
    After 5 months, he left for home and I do not want to HOST any student no matter where he/she comes from. I have opened my heart, my home ( 4 bedroom, 3 bath ) to host an exchange student BUT now I close the door. I have traveled to Europe twice since the student gone home. However, I did not want to see Ukraine after my story.
    PS: He was 6 ft tall and 140 lbs when he arrived and after 5 months staying with me he was 162 lbs. The student loved meat and potato. Meat is an expensive food in the eastern Europe.

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