Homestay Students FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions that have been asked by our homestay students:

Where will I be staying during the IFF program?

The purpose of an IFF homestay program is to get an American cultural experience, so you will be staying with an American host family that has been kind enough to volunteer to open their home to you for the duration of the program.

How will my host family be chosen?

IFF puts a lot of time and energy into recruiting and screening the best host families for students like you. Host families are selected based on several factors, including their interests in and suitability for our program. IFF carefully screens each prospective host family, and performs a home visit, in-person interview, and background check on every family.

How was my individual host family placement decision made?

After recruiting and screening a pool of host families in a given area, individual students are “matched” with host families based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the interests, hobbies and general preferences as listed by the individual student and host family on their respective applications. IFF representatives carefully make each placement decision after reviewing each student and prospective host family application. While every attempt is made to accommodate as many student and host family preferences as possible, IFF cannot guarantee that every student will be placed in a host family that can meet every preference the student wants. In addition, we generally have more flexibility to honor the requests of students whose applications we receive earlier. With few exceptions, and after running programs with thousands of students, IFF has generally found students and their host families to be very happy with their respective matches.

If I don’t like my host family, can I switch?

IFF makes careful decisions about the recruitment of host families and matching of students. Because of this, it is relatively rare that students do not like their host families. While IFF generally does not change a students’ host family merely because a host family may not provide everything the student wants; in exceptional instances, IFF evaluates the individual situation carefully, and if necessary, may switch a student’s placement if irresolvable issues arise.

What happens if I don’t get along with my host family?

The homestay program is all about giving the student a true cultural experience. Because of cultural differences there is sometimes an adjustment period for a student and the host family. If there is a conflict, the student and/or host family should immediately engage the IFF Coordinator, who will work to resolve the situation. In the rare event that an unresolvable situation arises, IFF may find alternate placement for the student. However, in over a dozen years with thousands of students and host families, the situation where such a need arises is very rare. We have found that most misunderstandings between students and host families occur because they don’t know what to expect of each other. An open conversation usually solves the problem.

Will my host family have children my age?

Over the years, this has probably been one of our most frequent requests and questions from our homestay students. It is also one of our top factors in matching students and host families. However, IFF recruits various types of families including couples with no children, those with young children and those whose children are grown and moved away. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that in every case, students will have host siblings of similar age. Students whose applications are received earlier, however, will have the best chance of being placed in a host family with host siblings of similar age.

Will I have my own bedroom?

Students who prefer their own bedroom should note as such on their application. While IFF will attempt to accommodate this preference in our placement decisions, we can only guarantee that you will have your own bed, but not necessarily your own bedroom. In many cases, students share a bedroom with a host sibling of the same gender and similar age. This has a strong advantage, however, as sharing a room with a host sibling will give you additional chances to practice your English-language skills!

Is there a minimum GPA to apply?

There is generally no minimum GPA requirement to participate in an IFF Group Homestay Program. Each student’s application is individually evaluated by IFF or our overseas partners (whichever is applicable) and the suitability of an individual program for a particular student is determined. IFF Homestay students are generally outgoing and interested in an American cultural experience.

How good do my English-language skills need to be to participate?

While there is no specific English-language requirement to participate in IFF programs, most of our students have some level of proficiency in speaking English. It is difficult to have a very enjoyable experience in the United States without speaking or understanding some English. Furthermore, most of our host families will not speak an individual student’s native language (and even if they do are generally instructed to speak to students only in English). There may, however, be limited cases where IFF can place a student who does not speak English with a host family that speaks the student’s native language. Such cases are evaluated individually by IFF and our overseas partners.

Is airfare included in the fees?

For our students who enroll with one of our overseas partners in their home country, airfare is generally built-in to the overall program fee. In other cases when a student is coming on an individual program, it may or may not be. Contact us if you have questions about a specific situation.

What will I do every day?

You will become a member of your host family, doing the same activities they normally do. Most students are surprised by how activities at home become interesting and challenging in a foreign culture. The most important thing to remember is to display your enthusiasm and willingness to learn as this will affect the type of experience you have. The more eager you are to join others in activities or conversations, the more willing they will be to include you in their excursions, parties, or even just a trip to their favorite hang-out.

Will I attend school during my Homestay?

This depends on the type of program [link to programs main] on which are enrolled. Those students coming during the academic year on one of our school visit programs [link] may spend up to several days attending a public or private American high school. If visiting an American high school in session is your primary interest, you will want to come on one of our school visit programs [link]. Because schools do not operate during the summer, students coming on our summer programs [link] do not attend school in regular session, but students in our ESL programs [link] attend up to 12 hours a week of class, which may be held in a high school classroom.

My primary interest is to improve my English, what type of program is best for me?

If your primary interest is improving your English-language skills, you should consider coming on an ESL program [link]. These programs offer the chance to practice your English-speaking skills in a real-life home environment along with intense formal English instruction making them great for the student who wants to significantly enhance their English skills in a short period of time.

Will I receive school credit for my participation in the program?

You will need to check with your school at home about this about the specific policies for receiving credit. Generally, the short-term homestay program is not designed for students seeking to earn credit while studying abroad.

What happens if I get sick or injured while I am on the IFF program?

IFF provides accident and medical insurance for all students on our programs. Depending on the specific program, students may receive their insurance information from the overseas partner in their own country or from IFF upon arrival during the student orientation. Students should inform their host family and their IFF coordinator immediately in the event of illness or injury no matter how minor it may seem. IFF will ensure that all medical needs are addressed promptly.

Can I leave before the end of the program?

IFF anticipates that all students will complete the program for which they are enrolled. The only way to obtain the full value and experience from the program is to complete it. On our short-term programs, the need for a student to leave early is extraordinarily rare. With thousands of students coming through our programs in over a dozen years, only a few have not stayed for the entire duration. In the extreme event that a student may not be able to complete the entire program, IFF will work with the student and his or her family to ensure that proper arrangements are made. All costs associated with an early departure will be the responsibility of the student. IFF is unable to refund program or enrollment fees due to an early departure.