Troy University enrolls more than 850 students from other countries on its Troy campus, and two new programs offer area residents the opportunity to open their homes to the international visitors
The University's Office of International Programs sponsors two initiatives—called "Homestay" and "International Friends"— that make it easy to help international students during their time in Troy, according to Maria Frigge, international student advisor.
"Many of our international students have never visited the United States, so they are naturally a little nervous about leaving home for the first time and they are curious about American education and culture," Frigge said. "These programs help them make a smoother transition to college life in another nation."
The International Friends program matches American volunteers with international counterparts. Frigge said the American host determines the range of activities that best suits their schedule and lifestyle. She added that the program is designed to last for one academic year, but most of the time the relationship continues throughout the international student's academic career at TROY.
Under the Homestay program, volunteers open their homes to an international student for a predetermined length of time so the student gets glimpse of life with an American family.
"The length of the Homestay is agreed between the host family and the student," Frigge said. "It can be for a weekend, a holiday, a semester or an entire year. Single-parent families, retired couples and families with young children or teenagers have all had successful hosting experiences."
Frigge said that hosts in the Homestay program may negotiate rent to cover expenses, but the primary purpose of the program is to help the student feel welcome in Troy.
"Both International Friends and Homestay can be very rewarding for the hosts and the international students alike," Frigge said. "It's a wonderful way to learn about other nations and cultures while teaching our students about America."