By on October 21st, 2013

Meal Plans Make International Homestay Students Feel…At Home

When an international student visits an American homestay family, acculturation opportunities occur for both. The student will not only encounter academic challenges, but also lifestyle changes with the homestay family. The host family will discover new patterns of operation with their guest, but with few, if any, major interruptions to their routine. The cultural experience thrills students. And the families enjoy the cross-cultural exchange.

Questions about Cooking
Food offers the occasion for discovery. Most students look for a host to provide a ‘meal plan’ or a ‘room with meals’. Typically, this comprises continental breakfast and dinner. Host families like to begin the homestay for international students with a first meal to get to know one another. During a home interview when the host seems concerned about providing meals, we ask, “Do you cook?” They usually do. We point out that this is fine, because no special meal preparation is required. Students in an international homestay do not expect native foods–just something they can have before and after school each day. We want our hosts to feel comfortable, too, if they do not cook. So, we suggest hosts offer the student a Breakfast Only or Room Only plan. We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed everyday thinking what to cook for the student.

Some dinner items will be unfamiliar to international homestay students. Other fare may be more common due to media and franchise exposure. Tolerance for novelty will vary, but students readily find comfort in just having a healthy and nutritious homemade meal from their homestay host. The host family can also decide whether they want to discover the culinary traditions of their international student, or not.

Every day will bring new experiences. Small cultural differences that have an impact tend to affect students the most. But because they join a homestay for international students to gain an American experience, you don’t have to go out of your way when it comes to preparing food.