It is bad that the teenager rarely leaves the room for the first 5 months? No it isn't. It takes time to adjust. Most host parents do experience difficulties understand how large the cultural barrier is. Remember that countries with a very developed youth culture like Denmark have Friday Bars where the students consume a beer or two before leaving school. It forces the students to open up to the other students and they are soon a part of the school life. Success at school enforces success at home. The student will be more likely to become an active member of the host family with a Friday bar on school campus, but sadly not all countries have such. Being left without the obvious choice of socialization isolation until the student feels safe is the only option.
Any use of force to get the student out of the room will only increase the risk of the student abandoning the exchange experience.
A host parent writes:
Hello DeeDee, I agree that you have been through a lot. I had the same experience with my student. All he wanted to do was lie on the couch and watch DVDs or stay in his room. He is no longer with us. He didn't want to be part of the family and he didn't want to follow our rules so he asked to be moved. We had been trying to work with him but he chose to move. He thought when he asked to be moved that we would forget the rules. Boy, was he surprised! We increased the expectations of adherence to our rules. We gave him more chores and made sure the TV was never available. We made him come out with us. He complained bitterly. We told him if you want no rules then you better keep calling your AR to get you a new place because at our house, we have rules. We also kept up our calls to the AR, one every few days. We also called the 800 numbers several times, talked to managers, left frequent messages. They took him out of our home just to shut us up.
The squeaky wheel gets rid of the bratty exchange student. It is amazing how much nicer our home is now that he is not stretched out on our family room couch with his feet up watching the blaring TV. No messes to clean, no one to torture our pets, and no disgruntled stranger wandering around our house at midnight. (Yes, he would often refuse to eat dinner with us and then wait until everyone was in bed before going downstairs to raid the fridge and pantry.) Keep the faith. You have a right to have rules and expectations in your home. These exchange students agreed to abide by the host's rules in order to learn the language and the culture. If they are so homesick or culturally closed, they shouldn't have left their country. I believe Mark Twain said it best, "if you expect things to be like home, then you should stay home."
The text above illustrates the typical mistakes host parents do. It is no use to quote Mark Twain. What your home has experiences is cultural polluting. It is either something you need to accept or you can choose to end your job as a host parent before time so you can return to the family life your culture provide you with.
Thinking About Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student (Wynia blog)