- 8 years ago
For those of you following along on my cake thread, I wanted to start a new one discussing specifically our exchange student experience. I’m over the cake issue (still not laughing yet but over it in general!) but really need a forum for discussing the issues that were brought to the surface by that one action. If you aren’t up to speed – you can click here to get that thread.
So here is the backstory:
When we signed up as a host family, it was so we could stop stressing out over being landlords. We had been renting room(s) in our home off and on for about two years. This was to get additional income because I’ve had rocky employment history since we bought the place. It’s big (2 story, 5 bed, 2.5 bath) and since it was just us, we decided to take the extra cash since I’m not working. We have been able to consistenly rent a room for about $450+ a month including utilities. The difference between a having a renter and our responsibilities as a host family were: furnished room, food and cooked meals, and social interaction. What primarily drew us to having an exchange student was that they were pre-screened, we had background checks on them, the income was guarenteed (we had a renter move out on us during the day once and skip rent), but most of all we were drawn to the idea that we would have a student who wanted the interaction with our little family unit. Having a ‘stranger’ under your roof can be a little odd at times, and we found that our renters tended to feel more like hotel guests – something we didn’t really care for.
Our responsibility to any student is to provide him/her with a safe, clean home where he has a private, furnished room (queen bed, desk, nightstands, lamp, bedding, and towels), wireless Internet connection, a cooked family dinner (about 5 nights a week, not every night) plus food that he can use to make his breakfasts and lunches – and the opportunity to learn about US culture and practice English in conversation. For all of this, our compensation is $625/month. It is taxable income and we are required to claim it each year with the IRS.
In addition, he has a private bathroom that isn’t shared with anyone else – which is usually not something students are afforded by host families. It just worked out that way for us. Prior to him arriving, out of my own kindness I decorated his room, purchased him brand new bedding, hung matching curtains and provided a pretty cool set up for him. This isn’t required, just something I did because I was trying to provide a good experience for whoever lived with us. I also mentioned in my last thread that I have gone out of my way to help him out with other issues (buying a car, taking him shopping for snowboard gear, getting his US driver’s license) and a few people said I shouldn’t have done that. Again, I did all of the extra things out of genuinely trying to forge a relationship with him, to help him adjust to his life here and with no expectation other than his kindness and appreciation/acknolwedgment in return.
Last, I don’t think I gave this information out before, but he was removed from his first host family by request. We were told the family felt it simply wasn’t a good fit. Since our student is close friends with the student who lives in the home of our close friends/neighbors, we had met him before. We decided to give it a chance. When students are moved, the company doesn’t typical give the new host family all of the details because they find it can cloud the new family’s opinion. I’ve now been told that the fit issue with his previous family was the same – no interaction and the attitude of entitlement.
We are at the point of make it or break it with him. We decided to give this one final chance – and sit him down to discuss things. We decided prior to talking to him that we would be letting the cake issue go entirely. It was clearly a misundersanding. The real issue comes from his total lack of interaction with us and treating the house like it is a hotel.
What we DID discuss with him were some cleaning issues, a laundry schedule, and most importantly communication. Through it all he basically said ‘okay okay‘ to everything and gave us no feedback. That is when we said “you choose not to speak to us in our own home and that causes issues.” It is a big problem for us – we have no idea what he does or doesn’t know or understand UNLESS he tells us – and because he doesn’t talk to us, we don’t realize there is an issue until something negative comes to our attention. The examples we gave him were using bleach on his towels (which were brown and are now ruined) and throwing his trash and items into our food/yard waste bin (which I found yesterday, coincidentally.)
When I brought up food, I asked him to write on the pad of paper on the fridge whatever I should buy himf or the week and anything he eats the last or close to the last of so I can replace it. At this point, he finally spoke up… And told us that he can’t plan around his life well enough to know which days he is going to be home for dinner. When we said it isn’t our responsibility to cater to your lack of planning, he asked for an altered rent payment – saying that a friend of his had worked out a deal with his host family to pay only $300 and not eat dinners! I immediately said no to this and explained that at most, he eats about $100 worth of food total, so either he could continue to pay his contract amount or he could pay $500 and be 100% responsible for all his food. At this point, he went back on everything and said he would pay the full amount each month.
He also tried to say he isn’t home often or around for dinner because he is always working on a school project. I suppose he isn’t savvy enough to realize that when he added me on Facebook, I could see his posts, photos, etc – so when he says school work and then posts a bunch of pictures of him and his friends drinking and hanging out at someone’s apartment – I know he is lying.
Last night did very little to make me feel better about having him here in our house. Honestly, I feel like this kid is being cheap, rude and disrespectful. He has been here plenty long to know what food costs (I’ve taken him shopping many times). I really feel like we are being taken advantage of here.
I realize that being a newlywed (and one with some other stressful issues at that) it probably seems stupid to some that my husband and I would put ourselves through this right now. I guess what I am looking for here is more conversation so I can make a decision about whether or not we should remain a host family at this point or give up.
Anyone feel like chiming in?