My family has been a host family for (almost) 20 years now and I grew up living with American students from all over the US. It‘s exciting to meet new people with a different culture and language. Both sides benefit from this experience. All of the students appreciated to be integrated into a German family getting in touch with the German culture and learning a new language in everyday situations. They have always someone to aks if they have specific problems which are actually smaller than they seem like in a foreign environment.
I like just hanging out with the students. There are so many things you could do. I always show them all the cool spots in Bonn and Cologne or just go to the bar at the next corner by our house and grab a „lemonade“ after a busy day. Bonn is a university city and full of young, open-minded people. It’s easier to get in contact with the local community if you know a German student. I also introduce them to my German friends. So, they meet other Germans except people from the AIB and get a feeling how a student’s life looks like in Germany. Besides, we try to do little excursions whenever the students have a break or a long weekend in their schedule and I have time, too. But there’s always time to do something spontaneously. A visit at the cinema, gallery or local events.
But the most important thing is that you really become friends with the students during the four months of study abroad as well as the summer program. From the first contact via email and the first meeting after the arrival until the end of the program you get each other better to know. So, at the day of departure it’s very hard to say Goodbye. But it’s not a Goodbye forever. A German phrase says „Man sieht sich immer zweimal im Leben“ (You’ll always see each other twice a life). And that’s true! A lot of students come back to visit us with their whole family. They’ll always have a place to stay when they come back to Germany for any reason. And I’ll visit them in the US, too. So, the contact never gets lost.
It’s absolutely the best decision you can make by going to a host family during your time abroad.