Navigating the Post-Holiday Dip: A Friendly Guide for Host Families

ISE Christmas Party in Missouri December 2023

The holidays have kept our students very busy for the past 6 weeks, but it’s totally normal to feel a bit homesick, especially after the holiday cheer fades away. Fear not — we’re here to guide you through it! Here are five friendly tips to help your exchange student bounce back from those post-Christmas blues, along with a few signs to watch out for:

1. Heart-to-Heart Chats
Your exchange student might be a bit shy about expressing homesickness, but let them know it’s completely okay to share their feelings. Signs of homesickness might include a lack of enthusiasm, increased withdrawal, lack of eating or a longing for the comforts of home. You can make those daily chats a comforting routine to better understand their experience.

2. Let’s Keep Busy
Banish those blues by filling up their day with fun activities! Signs of homesickness often crop up during downtime, so it’s great to keep your student engaged. If you notice a decline in interest or participation, it could be a sign. Encourage them to make new friends, join a new club or sport, and explore their surroundings – there’s a whole world in your neighborhood waiting to be discovered!

3. Gently Cut the Cord
Some increased contact with home during the holidays can sometimes bring on homesickness. Signs may include excessive communication with friends and family back home, which affects their ability to adjust. Once they get back into the routine of being back at school, your student should get back in their rhythm.

4. Family Fun Time
Let’s break students out of the room to spend time with the family! Signs of homesickness may include your student increasing their time spent alone. Encourage your student to join in household activities, especially during dinner, or engage in family fun activities around the house. Sharing a dish from their home country or playing board games after dinner can turn those solo moments into memorable family fun. Loneliness will be a thing of the past!

5. Patience is Key
Your student feeling a bit low after the holidays is as normal as the sun rising. Signs of homesickness vary from student to student but patience is always the key. Remind your student that we’re in this together and there’s no rush to feel 100% right away. Checking in regularly, even after the initial slump, keeps the support flowing. Reach out to your Area Representative if you think you might need some coaching.

Let’s conquer those post-holiday blues together with understanding, activities, and patience. Before you know it, your student will be back to embracing their American adventure and your family with a big smile!

How Can I Learn More About Student Exchange and Get Involved?

We invite you to read 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.


Global friendship starts with local action. Volunteer to host a student today!


Change the world, one family at a time. Apply to become an ISE Area Representative!


Explore a new culture and experience a new way of life. Become an exchange student!

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