Students at Brighton International School, just like the students on our cultural immersion programmes, stay in host families. We believe this is the best way to get to know the language and culture. Many students have never lived away from home before and this setting gives them the opportunity to gain maturity and independence whilst having a caring host family in the background making sure they are safe and well. Because students live like family members, sharing meals and space, this is also the most economical way to organise a stay abroad. Our students always have a single room.
Families are carefully selected and prepared. We have a strict procedures for advertising, assessing and informing. There are guidelines, agreements, handbooks and training. Many of our families have been hosting with South England Exchange and then Cultural Experience England for years. Students don’t choose a family, but they can make requests such as having a family in the city or countryside, having a sibling or being the only young person, staying with a vegetarian family or finding a common hobby. Generally, we ask our students to be open to circumstances which are different to the ones they are used to in their home country.
Families in the UK receive a household contribution. We have found that attitude is far more important than finances. We look for families who are genuinely interested in getting to know their young guest from abroad and really want to encourage and support them. Students received detailed information about the family before they arrive and there is usually a lot of time to make contact by email, phone, Skype or Whatsapp. Of course, staff are always available to help out if something is not working well in the family. We are continually impressed by how our families open their homes and hearts to our students and we often hear of students returning to visit or families being invited to graduations, weddings etc. We love to see lifelong bonds created.