Opening your home to an international homestay student is a rewarding experience for all members of the family. You become their family away from home, with an opportunity to enrich their lives while exchanging new cultures and traditions.
First time hosting? We’ve compiled all the basics to help you prepare your home before the arrival of your international homestay student.
Preparing for their arrival
Traveling to a foreign country and living with a new, unknown family can be intimidating, especially for a young student. As their host family, it’s your job to make their first few hours as welcoming as possible.
Have you prepared their room?
As a host with Harmony Homestay, you must be able to provide your student with a private room. Have freshly-washed sheets and linens ready for their arrival, as well as some basic furniture, including a desk to do their schoolwork and drawers to unpack their belongings.
What are your family routines?
Take a look at your family routines and house rules. As your student becomes part of your family, orient them to your daily routines. These may include:
- Do you take off shoes on your porch or inside the front door?
- What are the rules around leaving the table after eating?
- Are there chore assignments or laundry days?
- Who helps prepare meals and clear the dishes?
- Do they have a curfew?
- What are the rules for snacking between meals?
- How do you organize your recycling or compost?
- Are there any limits on TV, computer, or device use?
Make a list of every house rule you expect your homestay student to follow so they know what is expected of them. Treat them like any other kid in your family, while keeping in mind that they’re adjusting too.
Prepare for their arrival
Meeting your homestay student for the first time can be a nervous time for everyone. Do what you can to make the process as smooth and comfortable for your student as possible.
A fun way to welcome them into your home can be with a welcome banner or signs. Some of our hosts also like to get their students a small gift or basket of uniquely Canadian or Vancouver souvenirs!
Arrival day and week
The day your homestay student arrives will likely be busy and overwhelming, but remember, everyone adjusts differently to a chance in their home and living situation.
Arrive on time
If you are meeting your student at a pick-up location, be sure to arrive early. Your student is coming off a long flight to a foreign city, so don’t make them wait long for you to arrive.
When you meet your student, briefly introduce yourself, take their luggage, and drive them straight to your home.
Meet the Family
When you arrive home, it’s time to introduce them to your family – including pets! Be cautious when introducing pets to students, as some may be nervous around animals. Consider leaving any overly excited pets with a friend or neighbour until your student has settled in your home. Once introduced, let your student know what to expect with the pet to avoid future surprises. For example, let them know if your dog likes to cuddle on the couch or bark when someone passes the house.
Tour the house and community
Once all the introductions are done, show your student to their room and let them get settled. When they’re ready, give them a tour of the house and let them know your house rules. Be sure to show them how to use all the necessities in the home – any kitchen appliances, technology, how the shower and bath work, etc.
We suggest homestay families have a small snack or meal ready for the student shortly after arriving, like some of your family’s favourite foods or local eats. No need to make it a large formal affair. Use this time to chat with your student and get to know each other better. Try not to invite over any friends or extended family for a few days while your homestay student adjusts.
When they’re ready, give them a walking tour of your neighbourhood and a drive-around the larger community. This will help them orient themselves and make them feel more comfortable commuting to and from school.
Be ready to support your student
You’re acting as a home away from home for an international student who will likely have questions about Canada’s culture, languages, and expected behaviours. Be ready to answer their questions and make their experience as memorable as possible.
Are you ready to welcome a homestay student?
We truly believe hosting a student is a great way to expose your family to other cultures and traditions, while introducing a global student to Canadian culture. As a homestay host, you play such an important, life-changing role in the lives of our students, and the relationships you build extend far beyond their stay in Canada.
Learn more about becoming a host family at harmonyhomestay.com/host-families