Hosting / Life in the U.S.

True or False: You Need an Entire Family to Host…. False!

A household of any size, whether it’s made of one or many, can welcome an exchange student into their family! Meet Nicole from Michigan, who shares the best parts of being a host mom and the joys that come with it. From having a partner in crime to exploring the town together, the memories she has created with her students over the years will be treasured for a lifetime. Not only does she love hosting, but she also serves as one of Aspect’s wonderful International Coordinators! Read below to learn about her experience as a single host mom, her tried and true method of finding the best-fit student, and the advice she has for potential host parents!

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a host mom?

For me, I really enjoy having a partner in crime for the school year. Someone to go to different restaurants with or get up on a Saturday morning and decide to go to the market. I like taking my student along with me to be a tourist in my own city, finding things to do that I wouldn’t normally just go out and do on my own. Getting to share that with them is one of my favorite parts.

Nicole (right) and her friend, Aimee (left), with their 2020-21 students, Nina from Belgium (left on the back row) and Nina from Germany (right on the back row)

Q: What is this like for you as a single person to host? What’s your secret to choosing the perfect student?

I am learning more and more about how to choose the best fit. Not just choosing for myself, but also choosing for a good friend of mine who has hosted a few times now. She’s single with no kids, so when helping her pick a student, I tend to suggest someone who is a little more mature, a little bit older, a little bit more independent. They’re usually juniors or seniors, so they will more likely have friends who will be old enough to be driving to help with rides home and things like that. These students also tend to sometimes have an easier time getting involved in activities at school and thus make their own friends which is so important for a successful exchange year.

Also, it sounds so simple, but when you read a kid’s profile and they like to do some cooking, the kids are less likely to expect their host parent to be making every single meal, or ask, “What’s for dinner?” and then waiting for their host parent to make it. Not that I don’t cook because I do enjoy it, but on those days when I have to work later than usual, there’s less of a chance that cooking by myself will feel like a fun experience. One those days, cooking is still fun when you have a student to cook with!

Meline in her home town in France, before her departure to America in August 2022, to meet her host mom, Nicole, in Michigan!

Q: How do you balance your work, family, and Aspect?

Honestly, when I have a student, I feel like it kind of makes balancing everything a little bit easier. Because normally, I wouldn’t say no to things because it’s just me. But having a student gives me a really good reason to say no to other people and prioritize my own household. When I’m hosting I can make my student’s experience and the time we spend with each other the highest priority.

Nicole (right) with two Aspect students, Romane from France (left) and Bilal from Pakistan (center), 2022.

Q: What kind of advice would you have for someone thinking about hosting, especially if it’s a single person?

I think most people don’t realize how easy it actually is to be a single person and host a student since it’s just my student’s schedule and my schedule to juggle. I honestly feel like there’s a lot more room for spontaneous experiences because of that. I think it’s important to choose a student that truly fits you as a host. Going through the student profiles and realizing what is important to you and what type of student fits into your routine, and your schedule and then choosing a student based on that instead of choosing someone just because the student has one interest in common with you. Just because the kid plays tennis doesn’t mean that she or he is going to be a good fit for your current lifestyle.

I think reading the parent letters is also valuable because they’re likely to be honest and tell you where the kid is going to struggle. Based on the parent letter, you can get a good idea of things you can live with and things you can’t that will additionally help you choose the right fit.

Nicole welcoming her first student, Teera from Jordan, to Michigan in 2018!

Q: Is there anything you would like to add about being a host mom?

The first student I hosted, Teera, was from Jordan. She was a YES scholarship student (Youth Exchange Study sponsored by the US Department of State). She now goes to university in Singapore. An American friend of hers that she met during her exchange in Michigan joined the Navy after graduation. Teera recently sent me a Snapchat video from her friend traveling. She was not stopping in Singapore, but slowly traveling past Singapore at night. Singapore was all lit up. You could see all the buildings and everything. Her friend was like, “I’m waving at you! This is probably the closest we’ve been since you were in Michigan”. And Teera pointing at the sky was like, “You’re right here somewhere”!

I just thought it was such a cool thing – to be pointing at a country this girl has never been to and be able to say “I know somebody there”. To me this ripple effect from having a student in your community is the coolest part about hosting! Because it’s not just your family that you’re affecting, it’s the entire community, too!

Teera from Jordan on her last day in America. She had an amazing 2018-19 year, thanks to her wonderful host mom, Nicole.

Are you interested in making a student a part of your family? We are looking for American host families to welcome a student for the upcoming 2024-25 school year! Check out the profiles of our wonderful students! New student profiles go online every Thursday!