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Hosting an exchange student is almost always a fun and exciting experience for the whole family. However, there are always preparations to be made before the student arrives. What can a family to do help make an exchange student feel more at home?
If the exchange student is to have his or her own room, the preparation should begin here. This room will be the student’s refuge and should be as inviting as possible. The family should find out the student’s favorite color and some preferred accessories. They may not want to paint the entire room navy blue, for example, but may want to include navy accessories such as a bedside lamp, trash can, or comforter. The room should ideally have a desk or some kind of study table and adequate storage space, with a closet and chest or dresser. It might also be helpful to purchase a full-length mirror and mount it on the closet door.
Parents should also make sure that, if the exchange student has any special needs, they are provided for. A wheelchair ramp or handrails in the bathroom might be necessary. An exchange student might even have a service animal, and consideration should be given to this situation, as well.
A family should also be prepared for the exchange student to face homesickness. Most exchange programs have counselors and other workers who are accustomed to dealing with this, and they should be consulted as soon as possible. A family should also consult their own family doctor, letting him or her know that they have an exchange student in their home. Most exchange students have medical insurance provided by their parents, but if they need to go to the doctor while they are away, they will feel more comfortable if their host family knows the physician.
In most cases, the host family’s home is just fine as it is. An exchange student comes to another country for the experience of living in that country, and the host family’s home is part of that experience. The host family should prepare to be as welcoming, considerate and kind to the exchange student as possible.