Whether you're hosting a foreign exchange student, relatives from outside the United States or a friend who works abroad, preparing for international guests takes a little bit of special consideration. There are a few more things to think of when you're getting the house ready for a visitor from another country than if you were to host a friend from out of town for the weekend.
International guests tend to stay longer, and may want to go on mini trips to neighboring cities or states while they're with you, expanding their sightseeing opportunities. Therefore, your visitors may feel more comfortable if you give them a key to the house, letting them know that they are welcome to stay out as late as they want and should feel like a part of the family while they're in town.
Likewise, it's important to make sure that you check with your guest about their diet and what times they typically eat their meals. Visitors from Europe, for example, may be used to having their largest meal in the middle of the day, while dinner is served very late. Sometimes sticking to this eating schedule – even just a little – is a great way to make the person who is staying with you feel more comfortable for the duration of their stay.
The guest will also look to you as a representative of the area that they're visiting, so as a gesture of goodwill, take them sightseeing for an afternoon or two. Even giving them information or advice on which attractions are really worth checking out can be very valuable to a newcomer. Don't forget simple cultural differences and tropes about Americans either. If you're hosting someone who is unfamiliar with life in the United States, remember to show them some of the more quintessential aspects of life here.
You should also be mindful of the time difference. If your guest is visiting from far away, they are likely to experience jet lag on their arrival. Consider putting two clocks in the guest room – one set to local time and the other set to the time in their home. This can be helpful for when they're trying to communicate with family members at home and will need to calculate the time difference.
When your visitor first steps off the plane, he or she may want to go to sleep right away, no matter what time it is where you are. In order to make this transition a little easier for them, outfit the room with velvet blackout drapes, which will block out the sunlight and darken a room to help your guest get to sleep despite the time change. While they won't want to do this for the duration of the stay, it can be nice to have the option right away.
If you prepare your house for your international visitor, their stay can be a worthwhile time for both of you, introducing them to your culture and helping them to get to know it. Best of all, it doesn't even take much effort on your part.