“Can you help me?!” was the cry from my good friend who works at a local high school. She was in charge of organising homestays for the visiting Year 10 students from Japan and couldn’t find anyone who was willing to have a student stay for ten days.
I spoke to N about it and through the school we organised a police clearance so we were legally allowed to host a Japanese student. After meeting with the homestay teachers one evening, we were given a pack containing a letter from our homestay student. T was 15 years old, had one younger sibling and was looking forward to experiencing Australian culture (not that he had a choice – every student at this school had to come here as part of his/her studies).
After having him stay for a week and a half, N and I decided it was a great experience because…
You get to be an ambassador for your city/country
N and I loved taking T around to show him the landmarks of our city. He patted Australian animals, saw the world’s largest rocking horse, enjoyed traditional South Australian goodies such as Farmers Union Iced Coffee and Balfours meat pies, and walked along the beachfront almost every day. His favourite activity, however, was attending an Australian Rules Football match at Adelaide Oval!
You learn about another culture
I learnt so much about Japanese culture while T was here. For example, it was interesting to find out just how hard Year 10 students have to work in Japan, and how little sleep he gets during the school week.
You get to meet new people
Not only did we get to meet T, but we got to meet his friends and teachers so we could learn even more about Japanese culture. N and I attended a fantastic thank you dinner, where we were treated to delicious food, a host family gift and a hilarious performance by the Japanese students. We also got to meet some other host families who live near us.
You get paid
People who host exchange students are given an allowance. This helps to cover the cost of food and accommodation, buying them souvenirs and showing them around your city.
Interested in hosting an exchange student? You will need a police clearance, be able to drop your student to school every day, and be with them all the time (they are not allowed to be left alone).
Have you ever hosted an exchange student? Please share your experiences below!