Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Theory on Student Compatibility with a Host Family While Studying Abroad

I came up with the following "theory on student comparability with a host family while studying abroad" and posted it to my Scribd page a few years ago.  It should be noted that this theory is really in it's infancy stage [a sketch really] and I've not done further testing/research on it.  Perhaps after my dissertation I'll dig it up and mess with it but for now it is just out there for critique.  What are your thoughts?

A Theory on Students Compatibility With a Host Family While Studying Abroad by Comp, 2008


  1. Wouldn’t home contact improve comfort over a long distance? I could be misreading the chart, but shouldn’t it make it easier to adapt, knowing you can contact those you love abroad?

    My mom dated a foreign exchange student when she was in high school. It took him months to acclimate. He switched "foster" families during his first month. One because they didn't understand his Mexican over the Spanish they learned in school, and two, they struggled with his desire to spice up everything they cooked with hot sauce.

  2. I realize your theory is still in the infancy stage, however I am curious as to your thoughts on the maturity component; do you have a set age that you theorize to be optimal?
    With regard to homesickness,would you recommend setting a recommendation for frequency of contact? I would think that a regular schedule of contact could preempt a descent into homesickness.

  3. @Sarah & @Erin K - thank you both for your comments.

    @Sarah ~ I do think that home contact could improve comfort. This theory was prepared before FB and other social media tools hit the market and I think those platforms certain help keep contact with home much more than e-mail (which was coming of age when I prepared this theory/diagram)

    @Erin K ~ I haven't put much though to an optimal age. Thinking back to my times abroad on exchange/study programs (15, 17 and 20) I would not say I was very mature, on many levels, but I was very compatible with my host families.

    I think frequency of contact varies from individual to individual. For me, I required little home contact and didn't really experience home sickness but for others homesickness can be a significant issue that needs to be address and increasing home contact certainly helps although in some case home contact may actually increase one's homesickness.

    Much more needs to be thought about and revised here and I appreciate your comments as they are helpful as I think through this.



  4. Another thought, though I’m not sure the impact this would honestly have, is education. I’d speculate that a student coming into a nation with some idea of its culture would feel much more accepted than to arrive at a country a complete stranger. Again, I could be wrong.

  5. You've talked about the student-factors that affect compatibility, but what about the factors on the other side? I have lived with a few host families and my parents have hosted a few exchange students and I can see some factors on both sides that influence how well we've gotten along.

    I think length of stay could be a factor as well. People will put more effort into a relationship if it's going to last a year rather than a few weeks.

  6. @Sarah ~ Excellent additional points and ones I had not thought of, especially the factors of the host family that affect compatibility! Many thanks! David

  7. Your list of compatibility components is a great start in understanding what factors contribute to the success of homestays. I have been a host family for 7 years and have found that adaptability, making the student feel like they are part of your home and having them share their home comforts really help to support the transition into a new home and family. Please continue to conduct research on this topic. It will have important value in the international and global communities.

    Julie Gallanty