Case Study: Hosting a student
Why I continue to host exchange students
by Barbara from Fife
Barbara from Fife, Scotland has been hosting with MyEducation for 3 years and has welcomed five students into her home during that time. Here she talks about why she started hosting and why she continues to enjoy it. Barbara has also introduced her fiancé to hosting and together they welcome students to their home and to Scotland.
(Account written after hosting two students in 2019)
My girls were amazing … one from Italy and one from Brazil … when we met it was like we had always known each other. We had kept in touch via WhatsApp and made video calls before they arrived … their English was fantastic; it was my Scottish accent that was the problem, but we soon overcame that though!
When I met my first student Chiara from Italy, she was a very warm girl and I had made up a welcome pack for her … Scottish sweets and some transport timetables. She settled in and I asked what food she liked as in Scotland we eat everything from every nationality, she enjoyed Scottish food but loved to make her own pasta. MyEducation asked if I would host another student from Brazil, so I did and along came Stelle in January.
We both kept in touch with Stelle via WhatsApp until she arrived. Her English was fab as she had been studying it for 13 years. I had got her some Christmas presents, cosy PJs as it’s cold here in Scotland and she was coming from Brazil with heat in the 30s. Lol. She settled in and she and Chiara became host sisters and got on so well and did everything together; went to school, shopping, homework and cooked together. We had many giggles … watching horror movies, Stelle loved a horror film, but hid behind the cushion. They made their own friends at school but also went about with each other’s friends. I welcomed their friends to my home and some often stayed overnight. Chiara took charge and made them food whilst Stelle would buy in nibbles … her favourite was giving them popcorn!
Why did you start hosting?
Because I like company and when I started I was alone in the house. Now Dougie also lives in the home with me and the students.
Why do you continue to host?
Because I feel that it gives the students an opportunity to see Scotland and to live a new and unique experience. I like to have people around me.
What is the hardest part of hosting?
I think that the hardest part is the communication, sometimes. You have to be honest with one another and talk openly.
What is the easiest part of hosting?
I think is when you get to know the students, there is communication, and you start to build a family with them.
Were your expectations of hosting met or is it different to what you expected?
When I first did it was completely different to what I thought it would be. But now, after three years I find it better and easier.
What are your top tips for new host families?
Be open, honest, start only as you mean to go on, be patient and understanding, speak if there are problems.
What would you do differently, if anything?
This is a hard question because everyone is different and each student is different and needs different things.
What have some of your students gone on to do after their exchange?
One is been accepted in a medical school, and one is been modelling for a hair magazine.
Barbara and Dougie are getting married in 2020 and hope to have some of their students join them for the celebration. Barbara is also planning a trip to Brazil to visit Stelle.