Student Guidelines and Rules
Last updated on September 16, 2016
Last updated on September 16, 2016
Treat everyone you meet the way you would want to be treated.
Make sure you know the rules, have all your documents, and pack everything you need!
Make sure you read all of these guidelines and rules carefully. Following all of these rules will help you stay safe and have an enjoyable time in the United States. Breaking these rules could result in you having to leave the Passport Scholars program! When you and your parents sign the contract, you are agreeing to be bound by these rules.
When packing, make sure to include all types of clothing. Depending on where you will live, you may want to pack light or heavy clothing. Your host family will not provide toiletries for you, and in many cases you cannot bring large bottles on the plane. Please bring money to buy toiletries when you arrive in the U.S. Also, it is customary (but not required) for homestay students to give their homestay family members a small gift.
Please keep all of your important documents safe and with you at all times! This includes your passport with your visa and a copy of your I-20. We also recommend carrying a copy of your birth certificate with you. You must keep your boarding passes with you while you travel. You may keep the digital or in-app confirmation on your phone, but make sure to print out physical copies just in case.
Be friendly and don’t hesitate to ask your homestay family questions!
Your homestay family will be excited to meet you at the airport when you arrive! They will most likely write your name on a sign in large, bold letters. They should have your photo with them to help recognize you, and you should also keep a photo of them with you. Take a selfie with them to remember this moment!
Your homestay family will give you a tour of their home, showing you your bedroom, bathroom, and other important areas like the dining area. They should also help you connect to their WIFI network. Be sure to ask them any questions you may have!
You will most likely be exhausted from a long flight. However, be sure to let your family know that you arrived safely! Your homestay family knows to give you your privacy and a chance to catch up on sleep, so take advantage of it! You’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other in the coming days.
Be sure to understand your homestay family’s house rules.
Each homestay family has their own unique house rules (e.g. no shoes in the house or limit showers to 10 minutes), and will write them down for you. Make sure to understand the rules and follow them. Doing so will help you have a pleasant experience with your homestay family.
Good communication is very important! We are available 24/7 for emergencies, and the responsible adults in your homestay family should also be reachable during emergencies. Keep their cell phone numbers and give them your U.S. cell phone number once you have one.
Your homestay family may ask you to help with light chores like setting and clearing the dinner table. You are also expected to keep your room clean. If you wish to do your own laundry, ask for help before using the machines and only do laundry in full loads to save water.
Everyone’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health must be protected.
You are not a guest—you’re part of the family now! Follow the Student’s Golden Rule. Participate in family activities and assimilate into the culture. Your homestay family may be religious and encourage you to attend services with them or observe a specific day of rest. While you are not required to do so, please respect their beliefs and practices.
Please make sure to always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating, using hand soap. Also, be sure to put dirty toilet paper in the toilet instead of the trash. Pay attention to and follow your homestay family’s hygiene practices. They are important not only to your health, but to the health of the entire family as well.
Drinking is illegal under age 21, and smoking is illegal under age 18. You must never drink if you are not old enough, and smoking inside your homestay’s house is prohibited. You may not drink with or supply alcohol to an underage person. This also applies to cigarettes and any other tobacco or drug-related items. Violating these rules will result in disciplinary action.
Staying within practical boundaries is crucial to keeping everyone happy and safe.
Students under 18 years of age are not allowed to drive except in rare cases.¹ All students who drive must (a) obtain a valid driver’s license, (b) drive their own vehicle, (c) pay for their own auto insurance, and (d) obey all driving laws. If you want to practice driving to obtain a driver’s license, please contact Passport Scholars so we can connect you to a driving school. You may not use your homestay family’s personal vehicles to practice driving.
Your homestay family is required to provide transportation to and from school.² Be very clear with your homestay family about your schedule for each day, including the weekends. Your homestay is not your personal chauffeur, but we encourage them to give you a ride whenever possible. Students under 18 in our high school program may use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation only if certain conditions are met (see below).³ All students must come home at a reasonable time, which the homestay family will determine with you. Sleeping over at a friend’s house is not allowed.
You should limit your showers to about 10 minutes, especially in California and other areas experiencing droughts. You must also respect the usage of your homestay family’s utilities (e.g. turning the lights off when you leave a room). While your homestay family will provide towels, you are responsible for your own toiletries (e.g. shampoo, toothpaste, etc.). If you do not have these items, your homestay family will take you to a store where you can purchase them with your own money.
¹In rare cases Passport Scholars will allow students under 18 to drive, but only if the following conditions are met: (1) The natural parents of the student must purchase or lease the student’s own vehicle; homestay parents are not allowed to be listed as co-owners or owners of any student’s vehicle. (2) The natural parents of the student must purchase and maintain the student’s auto insurance policy through a reputable U.S.-based insurance company (e.g. GEICO, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers Insurance, Liberty Mutual, or Nationwide); it is highly recommended to choose the highest coverage limits possible. Students may not be listed on their homestay family’s auto insurance policy. (3) The natural parents of the student and the student must sign a waiver recognizing the risks of driving and releasing both Passport Scholars and the homestay family of liability. (4) The student must display good behavior at school and with the homestay family while maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above.
²Transportation to and from school only applies to high school students who do not have their own vehicles. High school students may alternatively take a school bus or carpool with another family from their same school if previously arranged. If the original arrangement is for the homestay parent to drive the student, but they are no longer available to drive, the homestay parent is expected to cover any costs associated with transportation to/from school. If a student desires to participate in school-related activities which involve a substantial amount of driving (e.g. basketball games and practices), we will work with the homestay family and the student on a case-by-case basis. Students over 18 may (a) use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation, (b) drive their own vehicle, or (c) arrange to have their homestay family drive them to school. This can be discussed with the family and student on a case-by-case basis.
³For safety reasons, Passport Scholars does not encourage students under 18 to use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation. High school students under 18 may not use these methods of transportation unless if they and their natural parents sign a waiver recognizing the risks of using these types of transportation and releasing Passport Scholars and the homestay family of liability.
Speak English at home, practice common courtesy, and respect your homestay family.
Being immersed in the English language is one of the best reasons to live with a homestay family. Because of this, you should always speak in English with them! They should help you practice your English and be supportive of your efforts to improve. If there is another student that speaks your language in the same house, speak English with them as well. You should only use your native language when speaking to your biological family.
Always remember to say “please” whenever you ask for something. Always say “thank you” to your homestay family whenever they do something nice for you, especially after meals and whenever they give you a ride somewhere. This is customary and expected in the United States. Also, do not say whatever is on your mind without thinking about other’s feelings (e.g. calling someone “fat” to their face). Learn to use discretion in your speech.
We expect our students to do their very best in their studies. If you have questions, you may ask your homestay family for help. However, they are not obligated to act as your personal tutor and they definitely may not do your homework for you. We may discuss your academic performance with you every now and then and will provide your parents with monthly updates. Your parents work hard to make this possible for you, so make them proud!
Make sure to eat plenty of good, healthy food!
Homestays will provide high school students with a minimum of two cooked meals per day, and access to cold/dry food like yogurt or cereal for breakfast. However, you are responsible for paying for your own specialty foods or snacks. Your homsetay may not always have time to cook and will buy food for you instead; you will not have to pay for this. If you plan on eating out, notify your homestay so they don’t prepare a plate you. Meals for ESL/university students are handled on a case-by-case basis.
When you apply to join our homestay program, we will ask if you have any special dietary restrictions (e.g. vegan or vegetarian) or allergies. We will do our best to place you with a homestay family with the same dietary restrictions or preferences. However, in some cases homestays may have different dietary preferences. They will use the money they earn from hosting to shop for food which accommodates your needs and preferences. This does not include junk food or any kind of snacks.
If you prefer to buy lunch at school or if lunch is included in your school tuition plan, your homestay family is not required to provide lunch. However, if this is not the case, they are required to provide you with lunch. They can either prepare it for you or give you access to the food items needed to prepare your lunch. If your homestay fails to provide you with lunch or any other meal, please let us know about it immediately. We will work with them to ensure they provide the necessary meals.
Meet the conditions of travel, receive permission, and have fun!
You may travel out of town over the weekend or during vacation (e.g. Thanksgiving) with your homestay family or with youth groups like the Boy Scouts or Pathfinders if (1) you are accompanied by a responsible adult age 21 or older who has passed a background check and (2) Passport Scholars receives written permission from your natural parents. If you travel on vacation with your homestay family, they’ll pay for your food but you must pay for your own hotel/travel costs.⁴ Permission to travel must be requested from Passport Scholars at least two weeks prior to departure.
If you travel during a school break, you must ensure that you return one day prior to when classes resume. For example, if classes resume on a Monday, you must return the day before (Sunday). If this simply isn’t possible, you must request and receive permission from both the school administration and Passport Scholars in order to return late. Please remember to request permission at least two weeks prior to your date of departure. This applies even if you are traveling with your homestay family.
You must return to your home country during Summer and Winter breaks, except under very specific circumstances and as determined by Passport Scholars on a case-by-case basis. It is possible to request to leave some of your belongings in your room and/or a storage space in your homestay’s home during the summer. If your homestay family is able and willing, you can pay a retainer fee to reserve the room and/or have them hold your belongings until you return for the start of the new school year.
⁴Your homestay family is not required to take you with them on vacation trips, but we encourage them to include you. If the trip requires traveling by plane, students and/or their parents are expected to pay for their own tickets. If the trip involves staying in a hotel, students and/or their parents are expected to pay for the room the student will stay in. However, the homestay family is responsible for all of the student’s meals. Students are not obligated to accompany their homestay family on vacation trips. If a student chooses not to travel with their homestay family, they will be temporarily housed by the local Homestay Coordinator or another homestay family until their homestay family returns.
Seek help, keep your insurance card with you, and be safe.
If you have a life-threatening or potentially life-threatening situation, call 911 immediately. If you are unsure of the severity, err on the side of caution. While you wait for help to arrive, do your best to remain as safe and comfortable as possible. After calling 911, you must call Passport Scholars to notify us of the situation. In some cases, your homestay family or school faculty may drive you to the emergency room for non life-threatening injuries (e.g. broken bones from sports accidents).
Every high school student in our program has universal medical insurance, meaning that you can go to any hospital for treatment. If you receive treatment that is not covered by the policy, your biological parents/guardians are responsible for those costs. You must always keep a physical copy of your insurance card and medical release form in your purse or wallet. You must present these documents with you when you go to the hospital. Please call Passport Scholars whenever you go to the hospital.
Routine physicals and immunizations are covered by the insurance in keeping with U.S. healthcare standards. However, the insurance company will not cover the cost of sports physicals. If you need a sports physical to play on your school’s sports teams, you must cover that cost with your own money. You may choose to go to a local hospital or doctor’s office (cost varies) or CVS Store ($59). If you or your parents have further questions regarding insurance, please contact Passport Scholars.
Do everything possible to prevent conflict and utilize our support when necessary.
Your homestay family should not charge you money for food, gas, or any other item or service; they are responsible for your food and transportation (see § 5.2). However, you are responsible for your own snacks/specialty food, clothing, toiletries, and entertainment costs. We recommend keeping money in a safe place and avoiding carrying large amounts of money around. We do not recommend borrowing or lending money to anyone.
You have a right to privacy in your room. Everyone should always knock and ask for permission before entering someone else’s room. If you do not vacuum your room, your homestay may enter your room for that purpose. Your homestay is not allowed to remove any legal items from your possession, like your phone or passport. It is illegal to remove a passport from a student’s possession. Please let us know if this happens.
We encourage all students to communicate with us about their academic performance. If you need assistance, we can help find a tutor for you. If you have very low academic performance, or have repeated behavioral issues, the school may expel you and even cancel your student visa. If this occurs, you may have to return to your home country and your agreement with Passport Scholars may be terminated without a refund.
Passport Scholars must be involved in each case of conflict resolution.
If there is any serious conflict between you and your homestay family, you must notify Passport Scholars as soon as possible. Your homestay family is never allowed to use any kind of physical discipline on you, and you must never become physically aggressive, either. Both you and your homestay family are allowed to document the circumstances behind the conflict as long as no one’s privacy is violated. If the conflict cannot be resolved amicably, you will be moved to another home.
If you break or damage anything of value, you and your natural parents/guardians are financially responsible for its replacement. You should notify Passport Scholars about each instance where damages exceed $50 USD. While we will do our best to ensure the issue is resolved amicably, Passport Scholars is not liable for any damages that you cause to the belongings or property of others. We highly recommend that each student have a student renter’s and liability insurance policy.
If you are concerned about any potential conflict with your homestay family, please reach out to your local Passport Scholars Homestay Coordinator or anyone else at the company as soon as possible. We will work with you and your homestay to remedy any challenges and ensure they do not become worse. Remember, we are here to help both you and your homestay family, keeping everyone’s health and safety in mind. The safety and wellbeing of our students is our number one priority!
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