The experience of hosting an exchange student has a series of advantages but also its challenges, one of which is the adaptation of the host family to said student. Every family has issues of its own, and the presence of a new member could cause agitation, especially at the beginning of the exchange program. In this article, we will tell you the three most important things you must know to get adapted to an exchange student.
1. Understand that the exchange student will experience culture shock
A culture shock is a phenomenon that takes place when someone moves to another place and faces a series of phases. At first, there’s the excitement of being in that new country, after which the country of origin is missed. Finally, the person who moved will incorporate to their personality the values learned in the host country, at which time adaptation will have occurred. However, while this happens, it is necessary to understand that the exchange student will experience symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, head and stomach aches, withdrawal, rapid mood swings and inability to focus.
Naturally, anyone who suffers from these symptoms will not be at their best, and in the particular case of the exchange student, feeling homesick is added to the equation, so these students are not having a good time at all. Thus, members of the host family should keep this in mind and be particularly empathetic with the exchange student. In this sense, they can encourage the latter to carry out a series of actions with the purpose of overcoming said culture shock.
Among these activities are the realization of cultural exchange activities, sports, frequent contact with the exchange student’s loved ones, and encouraging them to build new social relationships in the host country. Regarding this last point, the members of the host family would do well to integrate the exchange student into their activities, such as inviting them to their social gatherings and other events. That way, the student can get distracted and meet new people.
2. Prepare to deal with family issues
In every family there are problems and the arrival of an exchange student will not solve them by magic. Conversely, the presence of a new member can cause new issues to arise or others to aggravate, such as rivalry sibling and financial distress. Concerning rivalry sibling, the first thing to understand is that it is normal for this to happen. Children will always compete for their parents” attention, so the latter must constantly tell the first how much they love them and demonstrate it with actions, as well as reminding them that the exchange student is far from their country. For this reason, it is important to treat them with affection to help them overcome culture shock.
Now, about financial problems, this is a situation that must be anticipated and, in any case, managed. Although the objective of an exchange program is not the host family’s financial gain but the cultural and spiritual enrichment of all the parties involved, it is also true that this exchange program should not impoverish them.
For that reason, the host family should first analyze if it has the resources to fulfill that role and, in case of requiring compensation for the exchange student’s maintenance costs, this must be agreed in advance. Moreover, if there is a change in the family situation and it is necessary for said student to provide a higher amount, this topic should be addressed as well. Money does not buy happiness, but when we do not have it, it can be an additional cause of stress.
3. Give them joy
Although this can be deduced from the previous two points, it is necessary to emphasize that the simplest way to adapt to another person and, in general, to make any relationship work is by giving joy to others. Understand that the exchange student is a human being and as such they deserve to be treated with respect and consideration, especially taking into account their special situation. If the host family appropriately treats the exchange student right, they will do the same with them, creating a virtuous circle that will make coexistence enjoyable.
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