Living with a U.S. Family

International students who attend St. Paul Prep live with host families during their stay.

This provides the opportunity for total immersion into the culture and language of the United States. We believe that this is the best way for a student to learn about and experience a new country and way of life. Below, you will find answers to questions that you may have about your future homestay experience.

How are host families selected?

St. Paul Preparatory School has a team of coordinators who find host families and help support each student and family during the program. Host families are found primarily through personal contacts and community organizations. Once a family expresses an interest in hosting a student, they are visited by a representative of St. Paul Prep who ensures that the family is qualified and prepared to host. The representative also determines if the physical condition of the home meets St. Paul Preparatory School's requirements. All host families submit applications and are subject to background and reference checks. Our host families come from many different backgrounds and income levels, and we do not discriminate against anyone.

How are students and families matched up?

Once a potential host family is accepted, information regarding the ages and genders of family members, their interests, family pets, and home setting is gathered. The host family can then search for students who best match their interests and family background.

The letter to the host family is one of the most important parts of the student’s application. Host families pay particular attention to this letter, as it is the main piece of the application, written by the student, which gives the host family an idea of who the student is. It is important to write a host family letter that openly talks about you, your family, and your culture. You should make an effort to share your true personality and interests in your letter. Think about the ways in which you will be able to contribute to the life of your host family, and include that information as well. Keep in mind that many families are not interested in hosting a student who spends most of his/her time on the computer, playing video games, or out partying with friends. Host families do like to read information about your daily life, family members, country, and interests. For many host families, this letter is the deciding factor in whether or not they choose to host a particular student.

What is required of a host family?

Host families are expected to provide safe and caring environments for their international students, treating them as they would their own children. They are also expected to take an active interest in their students’ academics and grades while they are here. St. Paul Preparatory School does not require families to plan special activities for their student, although many do.

What does living with a host family involve?

You will be a member of a family, sharing the joys and the responsibilities of family life. You should want to develop a friendship with your family. Because the goal of an exchange is to immerse yourself in another culture, it is up to you to adapt to your host family's way of life, and not for them to adapt to yours. This can be challenging, but the more you try to learn about their customs, diet, and habits, the more rewarding the experience will be for you and for your hosts. You should also try to find opportunities to share parts of your culture with your host family, friends and neighbors so that they have the opportunity to learn from you too!

Being part of a host family allows you to experience American culture in an intimate and personal way that is not available to the typical tourist. You will basically have the same privileges and responsibilities as other children in your host family, so you must be ready to live by their rules and help with household chores. It is important for you to integrate yourself into the host family and be willing to participate in their outings and activities, as these are wonderful opportunities to learn more about American culture. It can sometimes be difficult to find a balance between spending time with your host family and your own friends, but it is important to show appreciation for the place your host family has made in their home and heart for you by sharing your time with them.

When will I know my host family information?

This information will be made available as soon as possible. Matching a host family and a student is a complicated process to which we give careful consideration. You may know the details of your placement several weeks before your departure, but it is possible that you may not find out until the eve of your departure. Rest assured that we will make every effort to find you a suitable placement in a timely manner.

Will the host family have children my age?

Not necessarily. Some of our host families do have teenage children, but others have younger children or no children at all. We do request, though, that every host family give their student the opportunity to meet people close to their own age, either through community activities, schools, nephews/nieces, etc. You may also be placed with another St. Paul Prep student in the same host family. This will be a great way for you to learn about another teenager’s country and culture, and they will also learn more about yours. The majority of our host families prefer to host two international students, so it is quite possible that you will be placed in a home along with another St. Paul Prep student.

Are host families paid?

Host families are given a modest stipend to help cover the cost of food and lodging.

What happens upon arriving abroad?

As soon as students exit airport security, they are greeted by their host families and/or a St. Paul Prep staff member. In any case, students will be transported to their host families.

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