There are numerous misnomers, myths and misconceptions about being a host family for an international student or foreign exchange student. While the responsibility may seem overwhelming, a little extra effort is needed to assure a seamless transition for both the student and the host family.

Myth #1: Host Families must speak the exchange student’s native language

On the contrary, study abroad students are required to speak English. It is a prerequisite because it ensures that the international student will be able to integrate, function and communicate effectively to benefit the program. Certain programs will screen foreign exchange students and require the passing of an English Proficiency Test.

Myth #2: Host Families become the international student’s legal guardian during their stay

A foreign exchange student’s natural parents are ALWAYS considered the legal guardians of the student. During the foreign exchange student’s stay with a host family, the student’s foreign exchange program is legally responsible for the student. The only major task the host family may have to take on is if the foreign exchange student becomes ill. All international students have health insurance and a Certification of Health. The document includes a medical release form which authorizes the host family the right to seek medical attention for the student in the case of an emergency.

Myth #3: Host Families are financially responsible for the foreign exchange students living expenses

International students NOT host families are responsible for their own living expenses. Their natural parents and families will provide them with enough money to cover the following: school lunches, pocket cash, educational supplies/expenses and recreational spending money.

Myth #4: Host Families are required to placate to every whim of the international student

Absolutely not. Foreign exchange students have responsibilities – just like the other kids in the house. Students should adapt to their host family’s lifestyle, activities as well as house rules. Because the international student is being hosted for an academic purpose opposed to a vacation, the student program necessities both effort and work to enable learning.