of Living in a Canadian Homestay
and meal times will be different. Some research on your part will help
you get better acquainted. You should expect a range of possibilities from
regional specialties to family recipes to sampling local treats. It's important
to be flexible, as each host may have meals scheduled around many people.
Adjust and enjoy. Generally, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not
served with meals.
Your Room: You should attempt to keep your
room clean and tidy. Ask your host for supplies you may need. Your host
may come in and do some basic straightening up, or just weekly to change
If hosts offer to do it for you,
thank them. Most families do have washing facilities for you convenience.
Keys: Most families will provide you with
a front door key. This means you should be able to come and go as you please,
within reason. You will be responsible for your key and if you lose it
you will be charged for changing the locks and making extra keys. Always
lock (avoid slamming) doors when leaving.
Telephone Service: Please do not ask to
make long distance calls from your host's home. Check with your host to
see if you may give their number to your family and friends, but be sure
that they know the time difference and don't call before 8 a.m. or after
10 p.m. unless it is an emergency. Ask before making outgoing calls. Be
Please do not bring guests to your
foreign home unless first checking with your host, as it infringes on the
family's privacy. Never plan on taking guests of the opposite sex to your
Absences: If you will not be home for a
meal, are planning on staying out late, or are going away on a day-trip
with an overnight, please let your hosts know. Your family is concerned
about your well-being and may worry about you.
Friendship: As each family is different,
each student undergoes a different homestay experience. Usually friendly,
enthusiastic students tend to create a friendly, positive atmosphere. In
these cases, families often include students in social activities, family
Approaching homestays in a friendly, cooperative
spirit significantly improves their outcome
(like most things in life!).
Families do not refund missed meals or weekends
out of town. Appreciate that food and utilities generally cost more abroad
than at home and foreign hosts are paid relatively little. Most participants
recognize this and are prepared to accept local norms, conserve on utilities,
and eat what the hosts eat. Be prepared to buy a few things on your own
Conserving energy is high priority in most countries.
Lights don't burn in rooms that aren't being
used, air conditioning is rare, and quick showers are the norm (not long,
hot baths). Many areas are subject to water shortages. Electric rates are
often indexed (a little increase produces a whopping bill). Observe the
different realities and adjust accordingly. Exercising conservation and
consideration of these amenities abroad will be appreciated by your host
Express an interest in the family and culture,
and the family will extend themselves as much as possible to make you a
member of the household. Making yourself familiar with our customs and
adapting yourself to their lifestyle and culture will help bridge the cultural
gap between you and your hosts.
Occasionally students have complained that they
had little contact with their family. Most foreign cultures have a great
deal of respect for the liberties of all persons, and some families may
be unsure if they are "bothering" students by trying to converse with them.
It is not reasonable that your hosts be expected
to change their lifestyle or their daily routine during your visit.
What is a home?
It may be an apartment or a house. The occupants may be a family with children,
a retiree living alone, or a young professional with a room to let. Some
people are always busy, out and about. Others seem to always be home. Most
homes have 1 bedroom available (a few have 2 or 3) and accept foreign students
All homes are
paid. However, compensation is invariably low in reference to hotels and
the cost of living in that country.
What are minimum
expectations? Expect a safe, courteous environment with the stated number
of meals daily. Basic services should function (lights, shower, toilet
etc.) within capabilities of local utilities. If any of these basics are
questionable, or if you are made to feel uncomfortable in the home, speak
with our office right away so that we may resolve the problem in a rational
expect? Don't expect a private bath, air conditioning, pool, wall-to-wall
carpeting, chauffeuring, laundry service, bilingual assistance, large rooms,
or breakfast in bed. A typical "home" may be 2-3 bedrooms, one bathroom,
a living and dining room, and kitchen.