Every year, thousands of American families open their doors and hearts to welcome new students from all over the world. Studying under the American family program, you will have the opportunity to observe, learn and experience new life and culture, as well as practice your English skills in everyday life with your American family.
The experience of living with a homestay family helps students feel less homesick, because students will feel that they have a second family who loves and cares for them every day. Many students praised the the host family program because it gave them the opportunity to improve their English skills and integrate into American culture.
DAILY LIFE EXPERIENCE
What makes the host family program so special is the experience of daily life with the host family who wish to share their life with students. Students living with families are often asked to do daily tasks with them and introduce students to relatives and neighbors. Native homeowners also often invite students to live with their families to participate in family activities, such as summer barbecues, anniversary celebrations, and field trips to regional attractions.
Typically, international students want to live with families with children of the same age as themselves or with common interests. Talk to the program coordinator to find out if they hold a presentation between international students and homeowners before officially joining the program.
The university, an intensive English language institute, or an international educational exchange organization coordinates the program with a host family and can arrange the program within a short term, a semester or a year. In addition to a fulltime homestay program, there are many other options for students. Students can stay on campus in the school on weekdays and live only with American families on weekends and holidays.
At the English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Delaware, there are more than 175 students participating in a homestay program in Newark, Delaware. Many American families participated in the program for many consecutive years. They built close relationships with students living in the same house and then even traveled to the student’s country to attend the wedding and meet the family.
There is also a free “native family exchange program” for students who do not join the American family program. More than 150 families “adopt” one or more students and want them to become members of their American family. Because students do not live in the same house as the host, they are often invited to dine, participate in family activities or play games with the American family. American families come to hostels to welcome students home.
There are three levels of program activities living with a host family at the University of Delaware:
Tradition: The host family provides all meals except lunch for the school days of the week
- The host family only offers dinner
- The host family only offers breakfast
- Excluding eating: Students prepare their own food in the host family’s kitchen. The family will take students to buy food every week.
ADJUSTING TO THE HOUSEHOLD
The program of living with a host family always requires some kind of agreements from both homeowners and students. You can have agreements on meals, timings, internet usage, laundry, watching TV, keeping your room and bathroom clean and money matters.
For universities that offer programs with homestay families, it is important to set standard requirements for agreeing to American families participating in the program. For example, at the University of Delaware, all homestay host families who live in this program live less than a mile away from the school and must ensure travel between home and school for students daily. The host family must also ensure that the room for students is comfortably furnished, and helps students feel welcomed in their home.
The program coordinator conducts phone interviews, home visits, and carefully examines the basics of participating families. Annual meetings, phone calls and email updates with the program help maintain high standards in the performance of the homestay program.
Even so, not all cases in the homestay program have worked perfectly well. Occasionally, problems arise and cannot be solved. In such cases, students can talk to the program coordinator to find another family or be referred to other appropriate housing options.
BENEFITS TO RECEIVE FROM THE HOST FAMILY PROGRAM
The host family where you live will care about your country and your family. Bring pictures of your city, school, friends and family. If you want, you can also bring small souvenirs representing your homeland.
There is no better way to learn about American culture and improving your English skills than joining a program living with natives. If you want to learn with a positive, open and flexible attitude, you will have an extremely enjoyable experience living in the United States.