InterStudies LSC Training: Support

Your role as an LSC

This course will take you through the exchange year - from dealing with arrivals, helping students settle in and get the most out of their experience, to departures. This course can't cover every possible situation, but if you follow it in detail, and complete all the tasks, then you will be well-equipped for many aspects of your role.

The course is built up of a series of texts, videos and activities. Some activities are interactive, and you will recieve feedback automatically. Others require that you send your answers to your training manager, who will get back to you with feedback and input. 

The course and activities have been developed at InterStudies head office, with the help of our most experienced LSCs. The advice you receive here is based on years of experience of working with exchange students, and we hope that it will help you in your role.

Module list

We hope that you enjoy the course and find it useful. If you have any questions or feedback please don't hesitate to contact us. 


Cultural Differences

The importance of cultural differences

Our students come to the UK and Ireland to experience our culture. Our students come from a wide variety of cultures, and the way they experience our culture will depend on the culture they come from.

Coloured glasses are a useful analogy for this. If one person looks at the world through a pair of red glasses, while another looks through a pair of blue glasses, then they will see and experience the world around them in different ways. This can lead to interesting discussions. It can also lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

The way our students experience the UK or Ireland will depend on the colour of their glasses.

The colour of their glasses will depend on the student’s nationality, education and culture. The norms, values and experiences from their everyday life at home will affect the way in which the student experiences the local culture when they are on exchange.

It’s our job to help our students to understand the local culture, and to experience cultural differences in a positive way. We need to remember that what is natural and normal to us, may be different and strange to them.

Try the quiz on the next page to test your knowledge of the culture in some of the countries our students come from!

Cultural quiz

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Cultural Glasses

Watch the video below for some examples of how people from around the world deal with a variety of everyday situations. While you are watching the video, think about what norms and expectations there are in your local culture, and how you can help your students to adjust to adjust.


Meeting and Greeting

First impressions are important. When the student arrives, they are likely to be nervous and disorientated. It’s essential that the host family welcomes the student with open arms, and makes them feel welcome and at ease immediately. An important part of your role is coaching your families, to make sure that they give our students a warm welcome

There are many cultural differences around the world regarding meeting and greeting. Some might say that the British are quite reserved with a handshake being the most common greeting, whereas other cultures may be used to a big embrace, and a kiss on one or both cheeks.

Make sure your host families are aware of these cultural differences, and encourage them to think about how they can make their student feel welcome when they meet them for the first time.

Try the quiz on the next page to test your knowledge of common greetings in different countries!

Meeting and greeting quiz (match countries with greeting type - e.g. France, kiss on cheek, etc.)

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The arrival day

Preparing for your students' arrival

The period between when a student is placed, and when they arrive is important. Both the host family and the student are likely to be excited and nervous about the coming experience. It's important that both are prepared - our colleagues in the student's home country will make sure the student is prepared for their arrival, and you will need to make sure that the host family is prepared for the experience.


When all aspects of the placement are confirmed we will send a confirmation email to the host family and the student. The student will probably have lots of questions and be keen to get to know the host family.

Please ensure that the family replies to email and messages from the student. The more the student and host family have communicated before the student arrives, the easier it will be for the student to settle in when they arrive. 

If students don't hear from their host family, then they become nervous and worry that the family doesn't want to host them. If a student is nervous and worried before they arrive, then it will be more difficult for them to settle in.

The student may also contact you with questions. It's important that you reply - just as with the host family, if the student has heard from you before the programme, then it will be easier for them to contact you for help or advice later.

Local information

We ask host families to gather information about the local area for their student before they arrive. A small welcome pack with practical information will help students settle in and find their way around the local area. This could include:

  • A map of the local area (with locations of your home and school marked)
  • Public transport timetables and information
  • Information about nearby points of interest and activities

Host Family Handbook

It is important that host families read through the host family handbook, and talk about how they will make the student feel welcome in their homes, and how they can help the student to become a part of their family.

Go on to the next page for practical information about arrival flights. 

Arrival flights

All our students should be met by their host family at the airport.

Our students' flights are booked in their home country, either by their parents or our partner organisation. Students are asked to fly to the  international airport nearest to the host family. 

We usually receive flight details 1-2 months before the student arrives. As soon as we receive the details, we will forward the flight information to your InterStudies email account. You should then pass the details on to the host family, and confirm how the family will meet the student at the airport. You must then complete an arrival transfer form, which you can access via the resource website.

Use an Excel sheet to keep track of your students' flights. You can make your own, or download one here for the purpose. 

Arrival flight FAQ

What if the host family can't meet the student at the airport?

We expect the host family to meet the student at the airport, just as they would expect a child of their own who was going abroad to be met at the airport.

If there is a good reason why the host family cannot meet the student at the airport then you will need to meet the student at the airport.

What if the host family doesn't have a car?

The host family is still expected to meet the student at the airport

They can collect them and travel home on public transport

What if the student books a flight arriving at the wrong airport / a different date than the one requested?

Contact the host family to check if this is a problem. 

If the host family can't collect the student from a different airport or on a different date than the one requested please contact the office





Settling in

Getting to know the local area

Your host families should show the students around the local area within the first few days of their arrival. It is important that students know how to get around in the local area, and where to find all the most important amenities.

You need to make sure that your host families understand what they need to show the students in their local area. 

Make a list of what you would show a student in the local area - and enter your answers on the next page

Check your answers against the list on the following page

Open Q: What would you show students in  your area

Answers - what we think you should show students in the area

As a mimimum students need to be shown the following

  • Doctor's surgery
  • Dentist
  • Post Office
  • Pharmacy
  • Bank
  • Local shop
  • Their school
  • Local bus stop

Did you get everything on the list? Is anything else on your list?

The first day of school

If you think about it, you can probably remember your first day at a new school, or at a new job. New starts are exciting, but they can also be a daunting experience.

Now put yourself in the place of one of your students: They are not just starting at a new school - they are in a new country, with a different culture, speaking a different language. 

It’s important that our host families are well equipped to support their students on the first day of school. Your role is to ensure your host families are prepared for this role.

Your host families should accompany their student on the first day of school

They should also be prepared to answer the questions students will have before they start school

You can see some of the questions students may have about life at school here:

In order to be able to support your families in finding this information, it’s important that you are able to find the information yourself!

On the next page you will be asked to answer some of the questions students will have. If you are hosting a student yourself then you can answer the questions with information about the school they will attend. If you are not hosting yourself, you should find information for the school a student would attend if they lived with you. 

School quiz - answers to Q's

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The arrival visit and orientation meeting

Your role

Up to this point your role will have focused on supporting the host family in helping the student to settle in and get their programme off to a great start.

Now it's time for you to meet your students. Within the first few weeks of the programme you will need to visit all your students in their new homes, and you will also need to hold an orientation meeting for all your students.

1) Arrival visit

The arrival visit is your first real chance to see how the student and host family are interacting, and for you to help them deal with any teething problems. It's important that both the student and host family feel supported at this meeting, and it is essential that you allow enough time for this. You must:

  • Speak to each student individually and in private, so that they can discuss any concerns with you
  • Speak to each host family in private, so that they can discuss any concerns with you
  • Hold a joint meeting to see how things are going and talk through any teething problems

Read on to learn how to hold a succesful arrival visit and to make sure you get the feedback you need from your students.

2) Orientation meeting

The orientation meeting is compulsory for your students. It's an opportunity for you to meet your students as a group and to make sure that they have relevant information about the programme and local area, and also a great opportunity for your students to meet other students in the same area and situation as themselves. 

Read on to find out all the practical information you need to hold a succesful orientation meeting. 

The arrival visit

The arrival visit

You need to visit each of your students in their host family home within the first 3 weeks of their programme. 

The aim of this visit is to check that your students are settling in, and to help them deal with any issues they are experiencing at this stage. Catching any minor  issues at this stage will help you to tackle them before they grow into bigger issues, and help your students to get the most out of their programme. 

After you have completed your visit you should submit an arrival report for each student.

Practical information

  • Find a time when everyone is home - you need to meet both the student and host family
  • Allow enough time to speak to everyone
  • Prepare before the meeting: Read the student and host family profile through
  • Find details about activities & clubs in the local area that might interest your students. Making sure students have activities to do is one of the best ways to avoid issues with homesickness and boredom, as well as a great 

At the family home

Speak to the student in private. You need to check that they are settling in in all aspects of the programme, and help them deal with any problems.

  • You need to ensure: 
    • That they get on well with their host family, and feel like they are becoming a member of the family
    • That they are getting on well at school - both academically and socially
    • That they have something to do in their free time (sports, activities etc.)
    • That they are making friends
  • Minor problems at this stage can usually be solved relatively easily - if you discover them!  If issues aren't discovered, or are ignored, then they will grow!

Speak to the host family in private. If the host family doesn't feel that the student is integrating into their family life then problems will develop over time. You need to check that:

  • The family feels that the student is acting as a member of the family and integrating into family life
  • The student respects any host family rules 

After you have spoken to both parties separately you need to speak to the student and host family together. If there are any issues, then you can help the student and the host family to talk them through here. 

Communicating effectively 

One of your biggest challenges at the arrival meeting is to make sure that you discover any problems. If you ask a student if they are OK - then in most cases they will answer "yes", even if they are not.

Your students will have had an arrival questionnaire in their student handbook. Make sure that the student and the host family have gone through this. If they haven't, then do this at the meeting. This may seem trivial, but it is a very important tool in making expectations clear, and helping the student to fit into family life and routines. 

Watch the video on the next page to learn more about how to get students to open up and talk to you.  

Getting students to open up

Getting students to open up 


Key points

Orientation meeting

Orientation meeting

You need to arrange an orientation meeting for all your students shortly after your arrival. This meeting is compulsory for all your students, and should be held within the first 3-4 weeks after arrival. The orientation meeting is an opportunity for you to:

  • Get all your students together as a group
  • Go through the programme rules (especially the travel rules)
  • Give students information about the local area
  • Answer any questions your students have
  • Collect students' new local mobile numbers
  • Collect students' email addresses

Read on to find more information about the Orientation Meeting.

You will find full guidelines on when and how to hold your meeting as well as downloadable resources on the LSC resource website.

Where should I hold my orientation meeting?

A quiet location at a reasonable cost. Depending on your location and group size you could borrow a room in a local school, church hall or community centre. If you have the space you can also hold the meeting in your own home.

It is a good idea to combine your orientation meeting with a social activity - just remember to allow time for the actual meeting as well. Activities could include a barbecue, bowling, pizza party, or international food buffet. 

What topics do I need to cover?


  • Introduce yourself and explain what the LSC role involves
  • Ice-breaker activity with your students to get to know names

Settling in

  • Check students are settling in
  • Setting and matching expectations for the programme

Host family

  • Communication
  • Following host family rules


  • Differences in education compared to home country
  • Students are on an educational programme - school to be taken seriously

Local area

  • What activities they can get involved in
  • Getting to know their local area


  • Programme rules
  • Internet/phone
  • Money
  • Travel rules

Problem solving

  • Who to contact for support
  • Importance of communication in solving issues

Other information

  • Student tours
  • Student website
  • Social media e.g. Facebook

You can find all the information you will need to hold your own orientation meeting on the LSC resource site. Click on to the next page to see a video of one of our most experienced LSCs holding their orientation meeting. 

Orientation meeting video and key points

Video from Julie's OR meeting

Key points based on video

Download OR meeting resources

Should probably refer to material on the website

Activity - helping your students settle in

Now you have completed the arrival and orientation module. Answer the following questions, using the information in this course, as well as your own ideas.

The idea is that you think about how you can best support your students and host families in your position as an LSC. Your answers will be sent to your training manager, who will review them with you. 

  • What advice can you give to a student who is struggling to make friends? 
  • How can you help a student who is feeling homesick in the first few weeks after arrival?
  • How can you help a student and host family to communicate?
  • How can you assist a student who finds the level of schoolwork too hard?
  • What can you do to help in a situation where a host family complains that the student isn't interacting with the family?
  • What can you do to help a student who doesn't feel that they are welcome in the host family home?

Need to figure out how these answers should be sent to the training supervisor

Communication and issues

Preventing issues

There is an old saying that prevention is better than cure. This is very true in the case of student issues!

Most issues are caused by one of the following:

  • Lack of communication/misunderstandings
  • Failure to meet expectations (this can be either student or the HF)
  • Boredom or lack of friends/activities

Most issues can be prevented by ensuring that students and host families communicate effectively, that all parties have realistic and reasonable expectations, and that students are able to develop a network of friends and find social activities. 

Where issues can't be prevented entirely, then it is essential that they are tackled when they are small. If minor issues are left alone, they will grow and become major issues.

So, how do we achieve this?

Communication and understanding

An important part of your role is to ensure that the student and host family communicate effectively. The arrival meeting is your best chance to ensure that this is happening from the very start of the programme, and you need to make sure that they continue communicating throughout the programme.

The video on the next page will help you to understand how host families and students interpret each other's behaviour and actions. 

You've already seen the video where Julie explains how to phrase questions in order to get students to open up and reveal any problems. This applies all the way through the programme. Just because you got the student to open up and talk to you at the arrival meeting doesn't mean that they will automatically open up a few months later. You need to use these techniques every time you need to check that your students are OK.


Both the student and the host family will have expectations. They will have expectations of the programme, of each other, and regarding daily life and activities.

These expectations can include everything from a host parent expecting the student to wash up occasionally, to how "clean" a clean room is, from what "family life" is, to what's for dinner!

What is important is that students and their host families communicate their expectations. If they don't communicate their expectations, then the other part is likely to be dissapointed, which leads to issues.

Watch the video on the next page to see an example of how failing to communicate simple expectations can lead to issues - and how these can be solved.

Friends and activities

Boredom = homesickness, and in some cases rule-breaking. Helping students find things to do in their free time is essential to the success of the programme. 

Understanding each other (w/ my behaviour - your attitude video) - helping students and families communicate

Dealing with issues

Despite everyone having the best of intentions, issues do occasionally occur with our students. When issues do happen, it is important that they handled quickly and professionally. 

Host families will often be able to deal with minor issues internally within the family - just as a family would with their own children. In other cases they may need you to support them, and in some cases you may need support or advice from the head office support team.

What is an issue?

Issues can take many forms and can include student behaviour, ost 

Issues occur

Deal with them quickly and professionally

need to show students that we care & guide host families - minor issues chould be dealt with in the HF home, thoug families may need coaching - need to assist them in communicating

Common issues: STU behaviour, host family behaviour, breaking programme rules





Speak to students - listen to students. Understand - take time

Dealing with issue spromptly


see video on next page for more info about how to deal with issues


Dealing with issues: Video where JH explains how to talk issues through with STU&HF

Issue report, ID & Resolution forms

Reporting issues to the office


Standard issue procedures (flowcharts - w/ emphasis on importance of speaking & listening to STU)

Monthly reports (w/fcu