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9 posts categorized "Support"

Getting to Know The Town - Help Your Student Find Their way Around!

As you know, students have arrived and are settling into your home and community. School is starting, and they are beginning to receive a whirlwind of information. Here is an awesome idea submitted by our Superstar Local Coordinator, Susan G from Iowa. One of her host families helped put together a scavenger hunt for the exchange students in the community for this school year. 

To help introduce their student from Kyrgyzstan and Thailand to their new town and friends, they put together a list of important places they would need to know for the upcoming year - leading them to the local library, police station, school, and most importantly - Starbucks! 

Check out some photos below & put together your own Ice-Breaker for your student. Don't forget to share all your awesome ideas and success stories with us on Facebook & Instagram

Here is to the #CIEEBestYearEver! 









Travel over the holidays



Dear Host Families,

We hope you are enjoying this Fall season with your new son or daughter!  As the holidays are nearing, your student may request to travel with family from home or ask their family to come to the US for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Though we understand the challenges of spending holidays away from home for the first time, we want our students to take this opportunity to experience American holidays with your family and in your community.  CIEE has a travel policy for 10-month J-1 students where visits with family from home are only allowed after January 1st .  Our semester students are not allowed to receive visits from home while on the program.  For a complete list of CIEE J-1 program rules, please click on the following link:



If you have any questions about our travel policy, please don’t hesitate to speak with your Local Coordinator or call CIEE at 1-800-448-9944 and ask to speak with the Support Department.  We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank you for hosting our students this year and wish you a happy upcoming holiday season.

Best wishes,

The Support Department




6 tips for working through your family’s adjustment

 Hosting an exchange student can be exciting, educational, perplexing and sometimes challenging.  It is an adjustment, not just for the student but also for the host family.  Remember that you are not in this alone and are always welcome to call your Local Coordinator or CIEE Support Coordinator.  We wanted to share 6 tips that can help during the adjustment period.

  1. Communicate openly and honestly about how things are going.
  2. Don’t wait to address problems.  If you don’t know the best way to approach an issue, ask your Local Coordinator or Support Coordinator for assistance.  That is what we are here for!
  3. Don’t assume that your student will know or understand your family rules, chores or schedule  
  4. Remind everyone in your family to be forgiving with yourselves and with the student.  Mistakes and miscommunications happen.
  5. Keep a sense of humor and remember to laugh with your student (but not at your student)
  6. Do a little research on your own about your student’s country and culture.  It may help explain some of your student’s behaviors.  Be careful of stereotyping or drawing final conclusions, based on this research.  It should be used as a springboard to conversation. 


All you need to know about tutoring

Have you noticed that your student is struggling with their English comprehension?  Have you noticed that your student is having a difficult time in one class?  Has a teacher or the school suggested that your student start tutoring or seek additional help with coursework?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is possible your student needs a tutor.


Per CIEE ‘s rules, your exchange student is required to maintain a C+ average in all classes during their exchange year.  If your student has a grade lower than C+ or is struggling in school, she/he may need to find a tutor.   

This process can seem overwhelming at first but do not panic and keep reading. The first step is to speak with your student and your Local Coordinator.  Together with the CIEE Support staff, a plan to help your student succeed in school can be formed.  Tutors are paid for by natural parents, but we often need your help in finding a tutor.  Here are some tips for finding tutors in your community:

  • Talk to your student’s Local Coordinator to check if he/she knows of local tutoring resources.
  • Talk to the school guidance counselor and teachers about tutoring options at the school.  Ask if before or after-school tutor groups exist or if a teacher/student in the school is willing to tutor.
  • Check with local universities and colleges to see if there are available tutors.
  • Look in local resources (newspapers, bulletin boards, etc.) to find tutors in the community.
  • Think of a friend or a neighbor who might be interested in tutoring.
  • Look at the CIEE Host Family website for student study tips: http://www.ciee.org/highschool/host-families/academics.html

Most importantly, remember that we are all working together to help your student succeed and have a successful exchange program.  It’s ok to ask for help!


Everything your exchange student needs to know about budgeting his/her exchange year

Your student will likely have an allowance of spending money from their Natural Parents or a stipend from their Grant Organization. CIEE recommends a monthly allowance of $250. It is a good idea to sit down with your student to talk with them about how they will budget this money. Your student may have experience with budgeting, or this may be the first time that they have ever had an allowance to spend as they choose! If you talk about budgeting early, then your student has more time to understand and reach his or her financial goals.  

Here are some questions to ask when you talk about budgeting:

  • How much money will you spend on regular, inflexible costs (those costs that will occur every month, no matter what)?
  • How much money will you spend on regular, flexible costs (things that your student wants to spend money on every month, but aren’t necessary in case they want to save up their money for a specific goal)?
  • What are your financial goals? Is there a big vacation or shopping trip that you want to save up for?


 If your student has a financial goal to save up for, help them calculate how much money from each month’s allowance they will need to put aside in order to achieve their goal in time. Once you and your student better understand his or her budget, it will be easier to stick to it!

 What sorts of costs might your student have? Here are some financial things that your student will be responsible for:

  • Personal needs, like school books, sports equipment, activity fees at school, clothes, and toiletries.
  • Favorite snacks or junk food. Host families provide 3 meals a day to their students. However, if your student wants to eat or drink something outside of the regular meals, or something that you don’t normally keep in your house, like their favorite brand of candy bar or energy drinks, they need to pay for it themselves.
  • Entertainment. Students should budget money for the fun stuff, too! All personal shopping, movie tickets, and vacation expenses should be paid for by your student.

 Remember that the beginning and end of a school year tend to add lots of expenses, like school books and vaccinations at the start, and yearbooks and prom dresses at the end. Please keep in mind that your student may have much more or much less spending money than you are expecting, and their spending habits may be very different from your own.  It is a good idea to give your student options. For example, if your family wants to go on an expensive vacation but your student can’t afford it, work together with your student to find a friend or family member that they can stay with while you travel. If you want to go out to dinner but your student doesn’t want to pay for a restaurant meal, make sure that there is enough food at home for them to make their own dinner.

How to deal with your student’s Culture Shock


If you are wondering if you are dealing with a student who is experiencing culture shock, know that it is not always easy to notice.  It usually builds up slowly and the signs are not always obvious. 

Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with culture shock:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Stomach Aches
  • Overly concerned with health
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling lonely or helpless
  • Distrust of hosts
  • Withdrawal from people and      activities
  • Homesickness

 If your student is showing some or most of these signs, it is quite possible that he or she  is going through culture shock.  Apart from calling CIEE Support and your Local Coordinator, there are a few things you as the host family can do to make it through this challenging time.

Have an honest conversation

Be sensitive, but try to have an honest conversation with your exchange student. You could start by saying: “I have noticed you are staying in your room a lot and seem very upset. I understand you are probably very homesick and this must be hard.” Your exchange student is experiencing a flood of emotions right now, and it is difficult for them to navigate through all of this. Often times they turn to friends and family in their home country, because home is familiar and they know exactly where they fit in. Over here, everything is new and they still need to work out, how they can fit into your family and their new environment. They don’t really belong here yet.

While they are navigating through all of this, it is important to try and remain positive. Let them know that you are glad to have them, that you care about them and that you are available to listen to them if they have things on their mind. It is best for your student to cut down on communication with home, so try to remind them of that, but make it easier for them by providing time to talk to them as well.

Don’t take it personal!

This is likely one of the biggest challenges when dealing with a homesick exchange student who is experiencing acute culture shock. During culture shock students often turn against everything new they are confronted with and that often includes your family and even your entire country. It can be very difficult to hear your student’s comments about food or lifestyle in the United States, but as hard as it can be, try to just listen and don’t judge. Instead try to remind your student that things are just different. You are different people and a different family from your exchange student’s, your country is different, with different values, outlook on life etc. Recognizing these differences as part of the process, but you can ask your student to understand that something being different does not mean it is better or worse.  Despite all the differences, there are always commonalities. After all, we are just people who like to laugh and share and do activities together. Create experiences you can all enjoy and remember together.

Suggest joining a group or activity

It can be challenging to help your exchange student break out of his or her shell, but be patient and keep suggesting different activities he or she could join. “Are there any groups and extracurricular activities at school you could join?” Sometimes a student fails to be accepted into a competitive sports team at their High School. In this case they might be able to join a community team instead. Being active and exercising will help get their mind off being homesick, it will also help build new relationships and see your community with different eyes.

Offer to join your family – over and over again

It can be hurtful when your new exchange student walks to their room right after you asked them to join a board game with the whole family. DON’T GIVE UP! Keep offering and make it clear that you would love him to join you! At the same time understand that withdrawal is a very normal reaction and should not be seen as a rejection of you and your family. Even if the student appears to be very critical of your family or the area you are living in, this is part of the sometimes “painful process” of adjusting to a new culture.

Smile and take a deep breath J

While it can be difficult for the student or host family, it is important to remember that culture shock is just part of the adjustment process and it will pass. It can seem like an insurmountable challenge at first but, with a little effort, students and host families can overcome culture shock and complete the student exchange experience with a great sense of accomplishment.



Set Guidelines and Expectations early on with your exchange student

CIEE Family 1
Please review the expectations about your household rules with your student within the first week after your student arrives. CIEE has created a helpful document that can be used as a conversation guide. Please make time to review your house guidelines with every students soon after they arrive in order to set clear expectations for your 5-10 months together.

Getting Involved

Leon from Germany with the Bryants
Focus on helping your student get involved in after school activities in order to meet people with common interests and make friends. Check to see if the host high school allows exchange students to participate in sports teams. Remember to sign your student up early to ensure he/she has a chance to try out or participate when he/she arrives. Also ask your guidance counselor to review the options of clubs at the school and encourage your student to pick one that interests him/her and go to their first meeting.

Support Coordinator contact with students

All students are assigned a Support Coordinator from the CIEE main office in Portland, Maine. Please go to our website to find your student’s Support Coordinator contact information by country and agency. The CIEE Support Team will be in contact with every CIEE High School exchange student during the month of September to check in and introduce themselves both to students and host families. So please inform your students about this contact and encourage them to call their Support Coordinator at 1-800-448-9944 during the month of September! Your Local Coordinator is both you and your student’s first point of contact but you can also contact the Support Coordinator if you have any questions or concerns throughout the program year.


Host Siblings welcome Theresa in TX