You probably have some questions....
if we don't answer them here, email us! .
What if I don't like my host family? We have awesome host families, so we don't think that will happen, but if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable in any way, talk to your program leaders right away.
How much money should I bring?
Your host family will pay for your living expenses. You will want to bring spending money for any shopping or personal purchases/meals during activities your host family has planned. You can bring a debit/credit card and use an ATM to get cash.
Does my host family have internet service? Probably, but it would be wise to ask how it works. Some families have rules about using the internet safely. If you need to use the family computer or the telephone, please ask first and pay for your own calls.
What is Christmas like? In one word....FUN! You will have many opportunities to participate in your host family's Christmas traditions. Your host family will probably invite you to attend a Christian worship celebration during your stay and family gatherings of grandparents and cousins are common during the holiday season. Usually there is a special meal at these events.
Will there be presents? Yup, and not just for the children! Adults give presents to each other, too! Your host family will explain what they do about presents. If they don't, please ask them who you should buy presents for. Some families enjoy having secrets and helping each other, so it's OK to ask your host brother/sister/mom/dad what kind of present to get another family member. If you need to go shopping, it's OK to ask your host family to arrange it.
Christmas gifts are not about dollars but are about saying "I love you" to a family member. An expensive gift is not necessary.
Will I get to sleep in?
Maybe..... but when your family asks you to be ready to leave the house at a certain time, be sure to be prompt. If you don't have an alarm clock and you need help waking up in time, ask your host mom for a "wake up" call.
Do I have to share a room/bathroom? Maybe.... but you will not be asked to sleep in the same bed with another person.
I'm really shy, what should I do?
Many Americans like to hug people, especially those they feel close to. If this makes you uncomfortable, hold our your hand quickly for a handshake.
My English is really bad!?
Relax! Spoken English is about practice and it's OK to make mistakes. Host families are usually very patient in making sure you understand something. There's always Google translate if you need an English word.
But what will we talk about?
A few photos of your home, parents, family, school or city are wonderful things to talk about. Many good discussions start by telling about cultural things like national holidays, religion, current events and cultural traditions.
If you like to cook, please volunteer. Most host families enjoy eating unusual foods and would welcome you to their kitchen.
Can I go visit a friend while I'm staying with my host family? Sorry, but no, and you can't have friends who are not enrolled in CIH come visit you at your host family's house. Students come to CIH in order to be part of an American family and when students have friends with them, they are distracted from being part of a family and host families miss them. If you have an emergency and must leave, contact your program leaders.
Will my host family try to make me a Christian?
No. Absolutely not! But you can observe and learn a great deal about Christianity from your host family. You will find that your host family's religion is very much a part of their lives and you will see them practice their beliefs every day. Please ask questions! A discussion about religion that can be a good exchange of information.
If at any time, you feel your host family is putting religious pressure on you, politely explain that you have a different religion, which you wish to honor and please share information about your religion with your host family. If the pressure persists, speak to your program leaders about it.
Is it OK to play with the children?
You bet! And you will make some new friends! Sometimes it's easier to play with the children. Try to comply with any family rules about the children. Sometimes children are shy at first, but most are accepting of strangers and will be a lot of fun.
Can I smoke or drink alcohol?
All our host families are non-smokers. Please refrain from smoking while you are with your host family.
The legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21. If you are of legal age, please be respectful of your host family's rules regarding alcohol use.
Do I have to clean my room?
Well...it would be nice if you did! In most American families, household work is shared. Many host families welcome some help cleaning up after a meal, including clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, washing dishes and straightening up the kitchen. If you see your host family working around the house, you can offer to help. Most families will appreciate it.
Are American families very formal?
Not usually. Host families keep a very informal style at home. If your host family tells you to help yourself, please do so, it is not considered rude. If you are unsure which foods or snacks are available for you, please ask. Your host family will try to have foods you enjoy available. You will also get to taste new foods that your host family enjoys.
Agh! My head hurts from too much thinking in English!
If you feel overwhelmed by your host family, it is fine to spend some time alone in your room to relax, rest, write emails or read, but please do not stay there for long periods of time. If you hang out in the common areas of the house, something fun might happen!
We hope staying with your host family creates warm, happy memories for you and your host family!
Did you know..... .....that your host family doesn't get paid? They host you because they love hosting students!