Basically nothing is a good general answer. If you have an extra bedroom, that is really all you need. You provide 2 meals a day, and you are cooking for your family anyway. When do you not have leftovers? If the kids want snacks and you do not like them, buy them for your family, or choose to not provide them, the student can purchase them for themselves. If this occurs, you are asked to provide a cupboard or drawer for them to store their food.
There are different schools of thought and variables, and these are all dependent on you and your philosophies as a host parent. If I take my family out for dinner, I pay. I am expected to provide 2 meals/day. However, if the girls are at the mall and want a treat, my student pays for her own! Although, if I am buying a treat for my daughters, I buy for her too…that is how I am. She is my “daughter” for the year, I treat her as such! Some people choose to have their exchange student pay their own way for everything, and that is okay too. Again, this is all based upon your philosophies and financial abilities.
Gift giving is another hot topic here. I purchase equally for all of the kids. Some host families buy a few gifts, but not as much. A lot of times, the natural families send gifts for your student and the host family as well! My feeling is that I would feel, if I were in their shoes and completely homesick, that of not being as important or loved or included in that scenario. I keep this in mind, and adjust my spending to accommodate for to ensure equality.
Other than that, gas to drive them to the mall, a little extra on the water and electric bill, but that is it. They purchase a cell phone if they wish, they pay at the movies, they buy their clothes and toiletries, and they pay for field trips, trips with the hosting agency or anything else that comes up!
Host Atleast One Foregin Exchange Student
Honestly, I only have positive things to offer in this post. Even the cons, dealing with adjustments, coping with kids that don’t care for your “American” rules, the homesickness, no matter what, there is potential and strong growth for all involved! I have grown so much personally, culturally, in patience, in measures of grace, in love, in communication skills, on and on.
This growth also is obtained by your foreign exchange student, your spouse, your children, other family members, and friends and neighbors! It takes a village is more true in this situation than when normally speaking of raising kids. America, and what it is and means to you is different than to me, so I like to socialize my students. I like them to experience different family structures, means of discipline, expectations, etc.
I would love to be a world traveler, but cannot YET! Until then, I live vicariously through these students that help me prepare their favorite dishes from home, show me pictures, tell me stories, explain the differences, and if I am lucky invite me to visit.
Also, with every student you host, your family grows. You continue to hear from your students, may travel to see them, have them and/or their family come back, etc. What is better than that! Imagine having your grandchild on your lap listening to tales of So and So from France, or Brazil, or Spain. We as a family love to joke around. We have a favorite thing that each student said, mispronounced, or did that remain with us as an extra fond memory of that time…an example…we were shopping with a student and there was a bin of ladies panties on sale.