Joining an exchange programme abroad is a good idea since you can learn from foreign cultures by immersing yourself with the locals. You learn a lot from school especially with the teachers who provide you with knowledge. However, experiencing life overseas with other people who don’t share the same culture as you still feel different.
If you decide to do this programme, you will choose from some of the many host families for students. They will serve as your family for the next few months or years depending on the length of the programme. It is a scary idea at first considering that you don’t know these people. You might be worried for a lot of reasons.
You don’t know if your host family will like you, or if you will like them. You also worry that they are different from the type of family you have back home. There are ways to have a good relationship with your host family and continue your pleasant stay with them until the programme is over.
Communicate with them
When you are with a host family, they expect you to interact with them. Try your best to communicate with them and join them in their activities. Don’t lock yourself up in your room for several hours each day. You are not there as a tenant but as someone they accommodate as their family member. If you have dietary needs or health issues, you need to be open about it to them right from the start so that they will be sensitive to your needs.
Don’t forget to bring a gift
Your host family is nice to accommodate you. Imagine the cost of staying in a hotel for several weeks compared to the cost of visiting with a host family. The least you can do is to bring a gift for them as a way of thanking them. The gift can be something that best represents your culture. It will be something to remember you by when you have gone home.
Respect the schedule
When they tell you about their daily routine, make sure that you follow it. If it is time to eat, share a meal with them. If they have curfews, make sure you are already home at that time. If there are school activities, and you can’t go back on time, inform them in advance so they won’t worry about you.
Learn to accept the differences
Whether you like it or not, you will have disagreements with the people you are living with. From the food they eat and the way they spend their time, not everything will be comfortable for you. Nevertheless, you need to accept those differences. You might see these differences in a negative light for now, but you will soon appreciate how you were able to adjust and grow.
Always mind your manners
Before heading to another country, make sure that you read about the local cultures. Find out what signs, gestures, and actions are rude for the locals. You also need to know the religion, cultural beliefs, and background of your host family. Prepare yourself before you arrive at their home. Say sorry when you commit a mistake and learn to say thank you when they do something great. Always be on your best behaviour when you are with them.
Hopefully, it will be an excellent stay with your host family, and you can learn a lot from the experience.