Quick Guide to FWT Host Family Living

Participating in a host living arrangement can be beneficial and rewarding for both the student and the host family. Connections are made, family cultures deepened, and opportunities broadened. Every student and family will have their own preconceived ideas about what the ideal hosting relationship should be based on past experiences, personal preferences, and family histories. Don’t assume that the expectations of a host family and the hosted student will align perfectly without discussion. Clarify everything!

Topics for discussion

  • Expectations of Involvement and Privacy: Some families and students might be hoping for and expecting substantial family interaction and others may assume that it is just a room to be provided. How will the student be expected to interact with the family? Where in the house will the student have personal space? Are there any privacy issues to discuss in advance?

  • Move In/Move Out Dates: Be sure to clarify arrival and departure information before the student buys travel tickets or leaves for their destination. How long will it take to settle in and move out? What day and time will the student be moving in and moving out?

  • Personal Living Arrangement: Be sure to clarify the exact living situation. Will the student have their own room, or will they be sharing? Is the room a spare bedroom, a basement apartment, etc.? How much space will they have for clothes and storage? Is there a bed, futon, or pull-out couch?

  • Meals: Will the family provide meals, or will the student be expected to cook their own food? Will the kitchen be available for the student to use? At what time? Are there rules for kitchen use? If the family will provide meals, decide on which meals will be offered.

  • Bathroom: If the student does not have use of a private bathroom, discuss shower/prepping time limits. Some times of the day tend to be more hectic than others, such as morning hours, when everyone is getting ready for work and school. Students are expected to supply their own toiletries.

  • Household Appliances and Common Spaces: Discuss any rules, time limits, and hours for the use of the family TV, computer, stereo, and common spaces.

  • Linens: Will sheets, blankets, towels, and pillows be provided, or is the student expected to supply their own?

  • Laundry: Does the host family have a washer and dryer that the student can use? Are there special instructions for their use? Does the student need to supply their own detergent?

  • Chores: Students are expected to clean up after themselves in their rooms, in the kitchen, and in all other common spaces. The expectation of other household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and babysitting should be discussed before the student’s arrival. (If a host family is also a student’s FWT employer, chores should be viewed as a condition of free housing, and not a condition of the student’s job. House chores are also not eligible towards FWT required hours.)

  • Telephone: How will the student be billed? Should they bring a phone card or cell phone for long distance calls? Any restrictions on when phone calls can be received (e.g., no calls after 11 pm) should be made clear. Is cell reception strong in the home or should the student give the host family’s land line to their family and close friends?

  • Wifi: Will the student have access to Wifi and are there any restrictions to streaming videos or music?

  • Curfew: What is a reasonable curfew, if any? Does the family want the student to call if they will be coming in late?

  • Home Security: Will the student have their own key? Does the family prefer to have the doors locked upon leaving? If there is a security system, does the student know how to use it?

  • Mail: Where can the student receive mail over their stay?

  • Transportation: If the student is bringing a car, any special or difficult parking situations should be discussed in advance. What is the availability of public transportation?

  • Vacations: If the family is planning any vacation time during FWT, what is expected of the student during this time? If the student takes short trips, should they notify the family in advance?

  • Visitors: Are visitors allowed? Should the student notify the family if expecting visitors? What is the family’s policy on overnight/multiple day visitors?

  • Emergency Contact Information: Who should the host family contact if there is an emergency?

Checking In

Especially during the first couple of weeks, we recommend both parties check in with each other to see how the living situation is going and if there are any areas that need to be addressed. Catching misunderstandings or unmet expectations early will help avoid potential conflicts later on.

Handling Problems

Mostly, we hear from host families and student about how wonderful their shared living arrangement was. That said, if problems do arise that are not easily resolved, please feel free to contact the FWT Office for support. We can help mediate an issue and try to find common ground. The Field Work Term Office is open Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–4:00 pm during the Field Work Term period. Contact us.