Prepping for Your Student

We've prepared a guide with everything you need to know about welcoming an international student into your family and home.

When Your Student Arrives

After months of anticipation and excitement it’s finally time for your student to arrive! To make the transition as smooth as possible, we’ve prepared some helpful advice.

Welcoming your student

At least one member of your family will need to be at the airport to greet your student. We encourage you to make it a family event and to bring colourful signs, balloons or even small gifts to welcome your student.

It’s important to keep in mind that flight details can change, especially during peak travel times. A staff member from NSISP will be able to confirm all flight and travel information for you.

Once you arrive home

Once your student arrives at your home, excitement is very high and many students will be eager to take in as much as they possibly can. Show your student around your home including where their room is and introduce them to any family members who may not have been at the airport, including furry ones!

Some students may be jet-lagged while others may not be. Likewise, some students may be hungry while other may not want to eat for a day or so. The combination of being excited and adjusting to a new time zone can impact students in different ways. Above all, remember to be patient with your student as they adjust.

Try to put yourself in your student’s shoes and anticipate what they may be wondering when they wake up in an unfamiliar place the next morning. The more help students get with practical matters the more at ease they’ll feel. Don’t be afraid to explain simple things- in a new culture even the small things are new and exciting!

Culture Shock

Culture shock is a common thing for students to experience in some degree. For most students, it’s temporary and with a little understanding and guidance, you can help them recover quickly.

There are four phases of culture shock to be aware of:

The Honeymoon

Students are excited about new experiences and surroundings and they will start to associate Canada with their home country. Identifying similarities between the two countries often helps students feel more comfortable.


As students start to notice the difference between Canada and their home country they can start to feel a little disorientated. At this point, some students may even begin to feel homesick. Often, students may not outwardly display “symptoms” but they may get sleepier and look for more alone time away from their host family. It’s important to keep an open line of communication during this time and be accepting if the student wants to talk about their feelings.


Students start to feel more relaxed, comfortable and secure with their surroundings.


As students begin to enjoy their new way of life, they will become more confident and comfortable with their host families.

Getting Acquainted

The first few weeks of the program can be difficult as everybody learns how to adjust to a new routine. But this can also be an exciting time as you get to know more about your student.

It’s normal for there to be an adjustment period, after all you’re bringing a new person into your home. Hesitation and confusion often happen for both host families and students while you get to know each other. Be clear and direct with the student and approach matters and questions with an open mind.

Food is often a big topic of discussion. It’s typical for students to take a week or two for their appetite to adjust. A good way to help make this easier is to take a trip to the grocery store together where they can point out some of their favourite foods.

The other major topic of conversation is supervision. Students agree to follow the house rules set out by their host families. Often, these can be different from what they are used to. It’s important to be clear with your expectations in regard to curfew and other liberties as soon as your student arrives. This ensures that everybody is on the same page and can prevent conflict.

Visits From Family

Visits from family back home are encouraged and can be a wonderful opportunity for host families to meet their students’ parents.

Some students, however, find these visits can disrupt their routines and cause added stress to balance the presence of family members back home.

Ultimately it is up to the student and their parents to decide. It’s not recommended that students’ families stay with their child’s host family. Although it is recommended that host families extend some of our legendary Nova Scotia hospitality in the form of a shared meal in their home.

Student Travel

Students are encouraged to travel and visit other places around Canada if they are able. Students must follow the travel terms they agreed to within their participation terms to enter the NSISP. Ther terms are as follows:

Travel within the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island)—I understand with the acknowledgement of my host family and consent of my custodian while in Canada, I can travel throughout the Maritimes with them, a student group, or other family.

Travel outside of the Maritimes (NS, NB, PEI)—I understand I require approval from the NSISP to travel outside the Maritimes. Travel outside the Maritimes must be chaperoned by a responsible adult (minimum age of 25) and requires written approval, in English, from my family. I will also advise the NSISP at least two weeks prior to my departure of my plans to travel.

End of School Year

Students cease to be considered participants in the NSISP after June 30 if they are here for the academic year.

Although it is tempting to allow your student to stay an extra week or two after school ends the students cease to be considered participants in the NSISP after June 30. Their medical insurance has expired at this time as well. 

The NSISP does not run the homestay program in July or August. Although students will ask to stay with their host family during the summer they are not permitted to stay. If a student cannot return to their home country they can enroll in the ESL Summer Camp, offered in Truro, or another program of their choosing.  

Student Visas have an expiry date. If your student wants to extend their visa or apply for a study permit, the NSISP can recommend an accredited immigration consultant who can assist the student to gather all the necessary documents and apply to Canadian Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) on their behalf.

A Successful Experience

Hosting an international student can be an incredibly rewarding experience for your whole family. After all, there’s a reason why many of our homestay participants continue to host students year after year.

Here are a few points to keep in mind to make the experience as pleasant and smooth as possible for both students and host families.

  • Welcome your student into your home with care and understanding.
  • Remember that some students may be homesick upon arrival and show compassion and sensitivity to this condition.
  • Understand and agree to accept your student as part of your family. It may be uncomfortable at first, but include them in all normal family activities.
  • Talk to your student regularly. Show interest in their school projects, activities, and hobbies.
  • Try to resolve any problems through proactive communication and understanding.
  • Spend recreational time with your student.
  • Encourage students to make friends at school and in the neighbourhood. School and community activities are an important part of your student’s experience.
  • Provide a reasonable amount of transportation for your student to attend school or community activities.
  • Monitor the student’s progress in school and offer assistance and guidance when possible.
  • Keep in touch with your Homestay Coordinator.

Successful host families also give their students time, attention and love. Remember, you’re not just getting a houseguest. You’re gaining a family member.