UW-Eau Claire's host friend program is an excellent opportunity to be involved with the university atmosphere, learn about a new culture, and build life-long international friendships!
As a Host Friend, you can expect to:
- Connect with an International Student and welcome them to our community
- Assist international students through their periods of transition and cultural adjustment to daily life in America
- Introduce students to Eau Claire and American culture - show students where the locals like to go and what they do for fun
- Give support during their student's first semester at UW-Eau Claire
- Ask questions and learn about your student's culture
Host Friend Handbook
Looking for a detailed outline of what you can expect if you become a Host Friend? Download the Host Friend Program Handbook for all the details!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the expectations of being a Host Friend?
We ask that Host Friends connect and support their international student/s once a month during the student's first semester on campus. Host Friends can continue to meet and support their students as long as they would like, but it is not expected after the student's first semester on campus. Some Host Friends do stay connected to their student throughout their entire time at UW-Eau Claire! But our program is focused on the first semester of a new student.
Is there a homestay requirement for the program?
No, there is not a homestay requirement for the Host Friend Program. The program used to require a homestay, but that requirement has gone away. Host Friends are still welcome to open their home to students in whatever way they and their student feel comfortable.
Am I required to pick up my student from an airport?
No. Students are asked to arrive to UW-Eau Claire on the Monday of their orientation week and are required to make their own travel arrangements to the university. The Host Friend Program used to ask Host Friends to pick up students at the Chippewa Valley Airport or Airport Shuttle Service (Groome), but that is no longer an expectation.
Can we host more than one student at a time?
Yes! Some Host Friends host two or more students at once. Many who have continuing students will host additional new students in subsequent semesters.
Can I request a student from a certain region?
Yes. The Center for International Education encourages interaction between host and students of all cultures. However, if there is a particular region you have a connection to we will try to match you with a student from that region.
How do I meet my international student?
The Center for International Education will host a Welcome Reception during orientation week of each semester. Host Friends and students will be invited to officially meet at that event.
If the Host Friend or Student cannot attend the Welcome Reception, the CIE will work with both groups to ensure they meet.
How long do students attend UWEC?
International students study at UW-Eau Claire for varying lengths of time. Some students are on a semester or year exchange, and others are degree seeking students who will be in Eau Claire for two or more years.
Do I have to be married or have children?
Host Friends may be single, married, domestic partners, retired, or families with children. Host friends live in the Chippewa Valley community and are volunteers. The only exception is that host friends cannot be current, traditional UW - Eau Claire students.
What can I do with my student?
The possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Downtown Eau Claire Farmers Market
- See a movie
- Visit Oakwood Mall
- Go to the Chippewa Valley Museum
- Take the sculpture tour
- Make an American meal
- Have your student cook a traditional meal from their home country
- Play American board/card games
- Go grocery shopping
- Tour upper campus
- Visit Big Falls/Little Falls.
Remember that what may seem like a simple activity to you could be a very memorable and impactful experience to a student. For example, grocery stores are so unique to each country and students love seeing how we live our typical daily lives!
Also, keep in mind many students may be anxious to purchase toiletries or other miscellaneous school items they may not have had room for in their suitcase, so taking time for them to go purchase these items at an area store may be a good idea!
Do I need to provide housing during breaks?
No. You are not required or obligated to house students during winter, spring, or summer break. Select residence halls are open on campus during holidays and extended breaks that are available to students.