Foreign Exchange Student Families


Madison Arthur

This is an example of a foreign exchange student and her family.

Have you ever thought about hosting a foreign exchange student? Maybe you don’t even know what that is yet, but that is why I have written this article to clarify what it really means to be a foreign exchange student’s “family.”

A foreign exchange student, in definition, is a student who studies for a period at a foreign school as part of a program between two schools or countries. Most foreign exchange students are college students and the number of foreign exchange students is growing each year. The majority come from China, and surprisingly India is a high numbered second percent. They come to study various things and go to school just like everybody else but usually have a group of other foreign students that they spend the most time with and get to know the best. They get to travel and explore not just the city they are staying at, but also the country and famous landmarks depending on what they plan with their group or sometimes even by themselves. Depending on the student, their goals can either be around their education or having fun in a different culture.

My family and I have had four foreign exchange students, three from Spain and one right now from Japan. We are not “hosts” because our students do not live at our house, we do it through a different program at MSU that lets us become the “family” of one student at a time for however long they stay in America. We keep in contact with them and drive them around or take them to stores when they need to go, we take them with us to events and when we go to places like Silver Dollar City, and they pretty much become another family member. Ours have all been girls because that is what fits our family the best, but there are usually more male foreign students than female. It depends per year on where the foreign students will be from, but when you sign up to become a family, other than the usual paperwork and background checks, you also get to pick out some specific things you would prefer in a student. My parents lived in Spain for about two years, so we ask for a foreign exchange student that’s from Spain, and if there isn’t one, then we get to choose from the students who are available and maybe meet some of our other wants.

Madison Arthur
Shiori is a foreign exchange student attending MSU from Japan.

Being their family, you are expected to check in on them and take care of their needs as a normal family would. Sometimes a foreign exchange student signs up for a family but never spends time with them or wants anything to do with them. That is not your fault, but you are still obligated to keep in contact and leave the door open. Some students who stay through all four or more years of college, and sometimes even some who stay for only a year, can get very close with their families and stay in contact after they leave. Students may come back to visit or families may visit their students if they are able to because family is forever, even a family that is around the world.

{Comment down below if you have any questions or need any clarification. It’s hard to find on the web. Also, comment if you’ve ever considered studying abroad, where would you want to go?}