You\u2019ve packed your bags, bought your plane ticket and may have even started saying your goodbyes to friends and family \u2014 but the international exchange adventure is just beginning with your new host family. Before you know it, you\u2019ll be spending a big part of your day with brand new family members with different traditions, beliefs, and preferences than yours. This is both exciting and a little scary \u2014 but a positive attitude can go a long way. After all, your new family is just as excited and nervous as you are! So how can you get off on the right foot with your new host family? Are there any absolute \u201cdo\u2019s\u201d and \u201cdon\u2019ts\u201d when living with Americans in their own home? These are just some of the most important tips for living with an American host family according to the students and host parents that have been there. Open your mind and heart to your new host family\u2019s traditions and beliefs. When you chose to study abroad, it\u2019s safe to say that you didn\u2019t expect your host country to be just like your home country. You knew that the food, activities, environment, and values would be different than what you were used to. In order to set a good foundation with your new host family, take some time to talk about what activities are most important to them. Maybe they always have dinner together as a family, or always go to church on Sundays. Maybe they avoid using their cell phones or tablets in the living room or prefer to spend at least one day a week together at home. Whatever your new family\u2019s beliefs and traditions, it\u2019s important that you not only understand and respect these differences but openly embrace them, too. After all, your time living and studying overseas is an opportunity to try new things \u2014 and maybe even step outside of your comfort zone. Trying new things with a smile will help your host family see that you are open to learning \u2014 which will make them feel more comfortable with you and open to learning about your own family\u2019s culture and traditions! Ask questions \u2014 lots of them! Cultural exchange is all about learning \u2014 and sometimes, learning means asking questions even when you feel silly doing so. It might feel easier to simply sit back quietly and do as your told, but asking questions about what is expected of you helps your host parents spot and fix any misunderstanding or confusion. You aren\u2019t expected to understand everything right away, and your host family is always there to help. This is especially true for things like rules, curfews, and chores. It\u2019s much easier to ask questions about why a particular rule is put in place, versus accidentally breaking a rule later on. So if your host family insists on you coming home every night before 10 pm \u2014 but you are used to staying out with friends as late as 2 am at home \u2014 don\u2019t hesitate to ask why they have this rule. Maybe city curfew for teens is 10 pm, or they have had another child get hurt after missing curfew. Either way, asking for a bit more information about a particular rule you might not understand will help your host family keep you safe and healthy during your time spent abroad. Tell your host family if something makes you uncomfortable. Just like you are expected to learn about and respect the beliefs and values of your host family, so too are they expected to respect yours. While sometimes it\u2019s up to you to try new things, there are some instances where something might be too far outside of your comfort zone. In this case, the rule is simple: use your words. Your host family won\u2019t know what you\u2019re thinking and feeling if you don\u2019t tell them, and it\u2019s up to you to communicate with them openly about your thoughts, feelings, and needs. If you are put in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don\u2019t wait to tell your host family. Try using statements like \u201cI feel uncomfortable with this because\u2026\u201d or \u201cI would prefer not to do this because\u2026\u201d so your host family can understand why you are hesitant or nervous about a situation. This extends to people, too. If there is someone at your school, in your church, or within your group of friends that makes you feel uncomfortable, always say something. Your host family is here to help you! Share your culture \u2014 but don\u2019t use it as an excuse not to try new things. Your host family wants to learn about your culture and traditions just as much as you want to learn about theirs, but not when it\u2019s used as an excuse not to try something new. For example, if your host family likes to eat dinner at 5.30pm every night \u2014 but you usually eat dinner at 9 pm at home \u2014 be careful how you communicate this difference to your host family. Remember that differences are an opportunity to learn more about your host country\u2019s culture, and the way you communicate these differences can help put your host family at ease. Here\u2019s an example: What you might want to say: \u201cWell back in my home country, we always eat at 9 pm.\u201d This might not sound rude to you, but it might sound like you are disagreeing or arguing with your host family (when that\u2019s absolutely not what you mean to do!). Plus, it doesn\u2019t help to start a conversation! Instead, try phrasing it this way: \u201cThat\u2019s so interesting! At home, we eat at 9 pm. Do many American families eat around 5.30pm?\u201d This acknowledges the cultural difference while opening up a conversation, which can be a great way to better understand your host family and American culture as a whole. Keep your promises and always tell the truth. Your host family\u2019s number one concern is keeping you safe, healthy and happy during your time abroad. In order to do that, though, they need to know where you\u2019re going and who you are spending time with. Always maintaining honest and open communication with your host family \u2014 and always doing what you say you\u2019ll do \u2014 will help your host family trust you as well as keep you safe. For example, let\u2019s say your new friends at school invite you to a midnight movie that ends at 1.30am, but your curfew is at 11 pm. Rather than staying out past your curfew and simply apologizing once you get home, ask your host family ahead of time if it is okay to go to a late-night movie. It\u2019s likely that your host family will allow you to stay out later as long as they know who you are with and where you\u2019ll be. Remember: trust is a difficult thing to earn and a very easy thing to lose. By always doing what you say you will do, you can help show your host family that you are responsible and mature enough to do things on your own! Living with an American host family is a wonderful opportunity to learn about American culture firsthand. With the right tips and tricks, you can create a strong, positive relationship with your host family that will last a lifetime!\u00a0 We invite you to read more about hosting a foreign exchange student. If you have specific questions about hosting, check out our host family FAQ page. You can also read testimonials from our past and current host families. When you feel ready, complete our host family interest form and our area representative will get in touch with you. You can also get involved by joining our team of Area Representatives! Help match host families and exchange students and bring the world closer together, while making a supplemental income.