By on February 2nd, 2015

Having an Extra Bedroom: Privacy for an Exchange Student

For someone experiencing a new culture for the first time, it can be eye-opening. If you are a student and going to study in another country, there is bound to be some excitement which is normal. However, once you step off the plane, that’s when reality sets in and culture shock starts. A great way for a host family to help a student adjust to a new country is to have an extra bedroom ready and waiting.

What is Meant by the Term “Culture Shock”?

Culture shock happens when a person is suffering from stress due to the loss of what is familiar to them. Although not every student will experience culture shock, it is more likely to happen when a person spends a longer time away from their home. Upon meeting host families for the very first time, many students may feel overwhelmed. A host family setting up an extra bedroom will provide comfort and privacy, which is just what a student needs most.

What Problems Could Bring on Culture Shock?

While there is no easy way to totally prevent culture shock, there are things a host family can do to ease the student into the transition of living in a new place. A host family can show interest in the student’s homeland, try to help them integrate to their new home and set up an extra bedroom, so their guest will have a place to relax and unwind.

What can Host Families do to make a Student Feel at Home?

While it can be tempting to plan special activities to welcome a foreign student to the country, it is also necessary for the family to understand how they might be feeling. By being accommodating to the student and allowing him or her to acclimate at their own pace, a host family can make them feel more at ease.

Try not to overload activities for the first few weeks after a foreign student arrives, this will allow them time to get used to the changes going on and make them feel more comfortable. When an exchange student is feeling overwhelmed by all the new adjustments, a host family should provide an extra bedroom, as a place where their guest can retreat for privacy.

Should a Host Family Try to Learn about the Student’s Culture?

Experiencing culture shock at the prospect of living in a different country is very common. A host family can help the student feel more comfortable and welcomed by understanding a little bit about their background and culture. If a host family wants to go the extra mile decorating the student’s room with items which are reminiscent of the student’s homeland, can make it feel more cozy and homelike.

How Can Homestays be a Great Experience for the Family and Student?

To make a homestay the best possible experience, there are some things a host family must bear in mind. Always remember that although a foreign student may have been away from home before, it does not mean the newness of another country will not be lonely and daunting. There are bound to be moments of awkwardness and these should be handled with sensitivity and humor, when applicable.

A homestay family is like an extended family for a foreign student, so they should be treated like one of the family. When a host family is supportive, understanding and compassionate to a foreign student, it will help friendships to form and will help make culture shock more bearable.