Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Go International in Your Own Home

Get International in Your Own Home

Have you ever participated in an international internship or exchange program?  Maybe you went overseas while you were in high school or college.  Perhaps one of your children is interested in participating in an international program.  Maybe one of your friends just came back from a four month educational program in Thailand and can’t stop gushing about all of the amazing things she experienced.  You’d love to participate but unfortunately your full time job, family and personal commitments don’t allow you that freedom.  Don’t condemn yourself to the sidelines though because there are other ways that you can get involved.

Ever wonder where all these international students are staying and how they can afford to live in a new country for half the year?  Chances are they are staying in homes like yours and mine.

International exchange programs often rely upon local citizens to offer up homestay situations for their students.  Homestays, were a student stays in the home of a local family for the length of their trip, are set up through a number of organizations with both the family and student being carefully screened and paired up to ensure the comfort and safety of everyone involved.

Some host families offer accommodations similar to local student housing.  Students are provided a room within the family home and all utilities in exchange for rent money, maybe $300.00 to $700.00, depending on the location.  In some cases, the host family may also choose to include meals  as well, leading to a situation where the student becomes more fully integrated with the family as they can chat and share stories over the dinner table. 

Another popular option for families with young children or a disabled family member that requires additional care can be to join up with an Au Pair program.  Au pair students act as nannies or caregivers within their host family, follow a schedule and daily routine and in exchange are provided with a room, meals and monthly stipend of anywhere between $150.00 to $350.00.

Both have their benefits for the student but what about for the host family?  Other than the obvious perk of either the extra income or the extra helping hand around the house, what is it that makes families want to take in an international exchange student?

It really is a personal decision when it comes right down to it, as letting a stranger live in your home is a disconcerting idea for many.  But more times than not, international students are so grateful and appreciative that it becomes a rewarding experience.

Think about it; these students are thousands of kilometres away from home in a foreign country trying to learn a foreign language and new job skills.  Their host family and home often becomes a pillar of support for them, somewhere comfortable where the people are familiar.

Having an international student in your home is a great learning experience for you personally as well.  Ask questions about their home town, culture, customs, family life.  It will give them a chance to practice their language skills and you a chance to learn about an exotic new place.

Also consider the fact that if you or one of your family members are interested in studying abroad at one point, it would be a great opportunity to experience and witness how an international exchange works all from the comfort of your own home.

If you have considered becoming a host family to an international student, contact International Career Studies to get more information about what is required and what you can expect when hosting an international student. 

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