Learn to communicate effectively with your host family. It can be very easy to make inaccurate assumptions or to miscommunicate. Most of the time misunderstandings can be cleared up quickly without further complications. Spend time with your family learning about the expectations, rituals, and traditions. They will enjoy learning about you and will be happy to share with you stories about their lives.
Building a strong rapport with your host family can take time. Do not expect to feel comfortable right away. Adjusting to a new living environment will take time. Each family situation is unique, so enjoy the opportunity to learn from them.
If you plan to travel on your breaks or during the weekend, it is important that you leave an itinerary with your host family and let them know when you are expecting to return.
If you are unsure, ASK! The success of your experience will largely depend on the level of communication you have from the start. What are the house rules? Are you expected to be in by a certain time? Can you use the phone for local calls? Can you use the laundry facilities? Is there anything you should know about using the bathroom or kitchen facilities? Is there anything off limits? Are you welcome to the food in the kitchen or are you responsible for purchasing your own snacks?
Offer to participate in household chores such as doing the dishes, and make sure to tidy up after yourself.
It is okay to talk with your host family if you are homesick. Do not feel guilty about sharing these concerns with them. It is completely natural to enjoy being in a new environment, while at the same time missing your own home.
Gift giving is an important part of both personal and business relationships around the world. Learning what is appropriate and when to offer a gift can be a daunting task. It is recommended that you select items that are easy to pack and lightweight.
Suggestions on gift ideas include: items with the GVSU logo such as pens, t-shirts, bags, pins, key chains, or mugs. Other gift ideas may include a Michigan calendar, scenic post-cards, stationery, professional sport t-shirts, cookbooks with traditional recipes, cassettes or CDs, items from recent movies or popular television shows.
It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on gifts. If you do not plan to live with a host family, you may want to take some gifts for friends you meet, a roommate, or others that assist you while you are participating in your study abroad program.