Last week, we had Mary Chan from The Homestay Kitchen Podcast come by for an interview with Greg. They talked about how homestay families can make things better and easier for students and about being open to students’ culture.
Have you stayed with a homestay family before? Sometimes it can be hard to find a good homestay at a reasonable price. However, if you’re able to find a family that fits, living with a Canadian family can be a very rewarding experience. Many students and homestay families become long-lasting friends. I personally know many students and homestays who ended up switching places after because the homestay family went to visit the student in their home country!
But how do you know who’s a good homestay and who’s not?
Sadly, it’s not always easy to find a good homestay family. Some homestays are run like hotels, only providing basic meals and a room for students. Others are like businesses, promising to exchange “free” English lessons in return for helping to clean the house or for reduced monthly rates. (Please be very careful of these places!)
The best homestays, though, will welcome you as a real member of their family, taking you out on weekends and including you in special events like family birthdays. Of course, not every family can do this, but you’ll still know if they’re a good homestay by the way they treat you – like true family.
If you’re in a new country, it can be hard to know who to trust. Here are some tips on how to find a good homestay.
#1: Ask a Friend or Your School
If you know someone who has stayed in the country you’re traveling to, ask them for suggestions. Maybe they’ve already stayed with a great homestay, or they might know someone who can recommend a family. Most people will be very happy to help you connect with good families!
If you’re planning on coming to Real English Victoria, we can also help you find a good homestay. Just let us know and we’ll do our best to help!
If you don’t know anyone at all, try looking online. There might be communities in your language or in English that can offer homestay suggestions.
#2: Ask Questions
If you’re looking by yourself for a homestay or even if you’ve already got a homestay, it’s always a good idea to ask questions. You can ask for photos of their house, an example of a typical weekday meal, or their experience hosting students. Be careful of people who do not want to give you too much information or who refuse to provide pictures of their house.
Here are some example questions:
- How far away is the closest bus stop?
- What do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
- Can I see pictures of your house/my room?
- What do you do on the weekend?
- Are there any special rules that you have?
- Can you tell me about the best homestay student you’ve had?
- Can you tell me about a student who had a problem at your house? What did you do?
#3: Change Homestays
Having a problem with your homestay? If you really can’t fix the problem, don’t just complain – change homestays! Sometimes a homestay family is not a good fit for a student. You might disagree about something or they might have rules that are uncomfortable to follow. In these cases, it’s totally okay to change to a different homestay. Don’t waste your money on something you don’t enjoy!