Like our FB page to find out about upcoming events: MIT International Students Office
Every Thursday, we also post a “Culture Thursday” post on Facebook to highlight an aspect of American culture or explain an American slang or idiom. (See our Cultural Adjustment page for more Americanisms, slang, and idioms.)
Follow us on Instagram to see photos and videos of past events: @mit.iso
Topics throughout the fall semester to support international students with adjustment to MIT and the U.S. Various speakers from departments around the Institute, including ISO, will share their expertise and experiences. Lunch or dinner served at each event, so please be sure to always register Open to all international students, including undergraduates, graduate students, and any non-degree/exchange students.
The ISO loves to celebrate holidays! We are usually “decked out” (completely decorated) for Halloween, among other popular U.S. holidays such as Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, and we always have candy and treats. Every year we also have our annual Holiday Open House for the first three weeks of December. You can stop by every day to enjoy some homemade hot apple cider and holiday sweets and take a break from your papers, thesis, and finals.
A time to socialize and connect with fellow internationals in the MIT community. Currently meeting twice a month on Zoom to play interactive online games (currently Codenames or Among Us).
Co-sponsored by ISO and PDA (MIT Postdoc Association)
The International Council is a platform for representatives from each cultural student group to share issues and ideas regarding international students with ISO staff and each other. We also usually invite a speaker from various offices to share their role, explain resources, and answer questions. A council meeting is a chance for you to interface with the ISO, meet other leaders/members of cultural student groups, and learn about available resources on campus. The International Council meets at least once per semester.
International Council Listserv
All the executive board email addresses of student cultural groups are automatically added to the International Council listserv. The ISO uses this listserv to send messages to MIT cultural students groups about upcoming International Council meetings and ISO events. We also encourage the International Council listserv members to publicize their events that are open to the MIT community via the listserv. In order to publicize your student group’s event, simply send your announcement/email exactly as you would like it to be read to firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t forget to include any attachments of flyers, etc.); the ISO will approve your message so that it is sent directly to other listserv members.
Hosts to International Students Program (HISP)
MIT’s Hosts to International Students Program (HISP) matches first year international undergraduate students with MIT faculty, staff, alums, and friends. The program helps students make the transition to US life, gives hosts the opportunity to learn about other cultures and perspectives, and can serve as a springboard for friendships that often last beyond a student’s stay at MIT.
Students in HISP don’t live with their hosts. Instead, they join their hosts in activities that expose them to aspects of US life that they might not otherwise experience; for example, dinner at a host’s home or sightseeing around Boston. Participating in the program is voluntary for both students and hosts.
We limit student participation in HISP to international students who have never lived in the US before coming to MIT and who don’t have close relatives who live in the US. Incoming international first year undergraduates are sent HISP applications in the summer before they arrive at MIT.
Frequently Asked Questions for Hosts
Will a student live with me in my home?
The Hosts to International Students Program (HISP) is a friendship program, not a homestay program. Students in the program have their own housing.
What are a host’s responsibilities?
Your main responsibility is to keep in touch with your student. Postcards and email notes are good ways to stay connected. We also ask that you be a supportive friend by inviting your student to a meal in your home or at a restaurant, to visit a museum or attend an event with you, or just to go for a walk.
Who can be a host?
Faculty, staff, administration, alumni/ae, and friends of MIT are all welcome. Single people, couples, single parents, and other families of all sizes are hosts in the program.
How are hosts matched with students?
We ask hosts and students similar questions when they apply to the program (e.g., what do you like to do in your spare time?). Then, the Host Program coordinator will match you with a student or multiple students based on your preferences and what you may have in common.
Do I need to live near MIT?
Our hosts come from Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Manchester, Andover, Carlisle, Duxbury, and northern Rhode Island. If it’s convenient for you, it probably will be for your student, too.
What if I don’t have a car?
It’s fine to be a host if you don’t have a car. But you will need to plan activities that are accessible by walking or mass transit.
When do the students arrive on campus?
Most first year undergraduate students arrive during the last week of August or the first week in September, a few arrive in June/July, and some arrive in January. We match students with hosts throughout the year, but most the matching will be done by August.
How much time will I be expected to spend?
The amount of time participants spend together varies. Many participants get together throughout the year. Others spend more time together during MIT vacations and breaks.
Do I make a commitment for a specific length of time?
We hope that you will continue your relationship throughout your student’s stay at MIT (the entire four years), but the minimum expectation would be their first academic year.
What do students do during vacations?
Students go home, travel, or stay in their own on- or off-campus accommodations. If you would like to invite your student to spend all or part of a holiday with you, you may, but this is not an expectation or requirement of the program.
What if a match doesn’t work?
We try to make matches that satisfy both the host and the student. If a match doesn’t work, we ask the student and the host to contact the program coordinator so that a new connection may be made.
Do students usually have enough money to pay their own way to events?
Because different students in the program have different financial situations, it’s not possible to assume that each one can afford to pay for outings or events. If you suggest an activity that requires money, we ask that you pay unless you and your student have clearly made another arrangement.
How can I learn more about HISP?
The HISP program sponsors orientation sessions designed to help you learn more about being a host.