Imagine welcoming an international student into your home and helping them learn about Canada and our cultures. It’s a rewarding experience that can result in lifelong connections. Plus, you get to learn about other cultures as well. If you’ve ever considered hosting an international student, now is the time. We are looking for host families in B.C.’s Lower Mainland and Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

If you’ve never hosted a student, you’ll likely have questions about the experience and requirements. We’ve put together this guide to help you better understand the commitment and what to expect when hosting a student.

What is it like to host an international student in your Canadian home?

Hosting an international student in your home is not just about welcoming a new, temporary family member; it’s about embarking on a thrilling adventure. They become a part of your family, joining in on your family meals, outings, trips, and other exciting adventures. 

House rules and responsibilities

The student becomes like a member of your family and can help contribute to the household. You can ask students to help tidy their belongings from common areas or if they enjoy cooking to help you prepare meals.

As a host parent it is also your responsibility to provide reasonable house rules for students. These might include:

  • An appropriate curfew for the student’s age. A good place to start is 9-10pm on weeknights and 11pm to midnight on weekends.
  • Each family member helps with dishes after dinner.
  • All laundry is to be put in laundry baskets for washing.
  • No keeping dirty dishes in your room.
  • No shoes worn in the house.
  • No alcohol, smoking, or drugs.

Relationships and experience

As a host, you’re not just providing a place to stay; you’re facilitating a rich cultural exchange. Hosting is not like running a hotel; it’s about learning and sharing cultures. You learn about your student’s culture, and they experience yours. 

Be mindful that this may be the student’s first time away from home, and they may feel homesick. Encourage them to call home when needed, and do your best to create routines and expectations so the student has a sense of normalcy and belonging in your family.

Many international families become lifelong friends with their student and their family. You might keep in touch with your students or even visit their families in their home country one day.

Learn more about the experience of hosting an international student.

Benefits of hosting an international student

The international homestay experience benefits the host family just as much as the student. Benefits of hosting an international student include:

  • You get to see the world through new eyes. Many homestay families mention that the experience opens their eyes to new world perspectives.
  • You get to learn about different cultures. Students often love sharing all about their home country with you while they learn about your culture.
  • You get to learn more about your own culture and nieghbourhood. As you show your international student around your community, you may visit the “touristy” places you don’t usually frequent or discover new gems about your community or culture that you forget about in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life. 
  • You get to make new international friends. It doesn’t matter if your student stays with you for a few weeks, an entire semester, or a full year. The relationships you build when you live with someone are often long-lasting. 
  • You can improve your communication skills. While most students will have studied English in their home country prior to coming to Canada, you may experience some language barriers. This forces you to practice your communication skills, such as:
    • Being more purposeful in your word choices
    • Choosing different words to express yourself when necessary
    • Using hand gestures intentionally.
  • You are compensated for hosting a student. This amount helps with the extra costs of hosting the student in your home. (Contact us if you are wondering what kind of compensation you will earn.)

Read more about the benefits of hosting. 

What can you do with your student?

Aside from providing basic amenities and accommodation, you can play an active role in their Canadian experience. Here are some ideas of activities you can do with your student:

  • Family game nights
  • Cooking meals together
  • Visiting local museums
  • Going to the beach or for a hike
  • Going camping or on vacations
  • Attending local festivals and events
  • Enrolling in parks and rec programs
  • Going swimming or bowling
  • Geocaching
  • Picnicking and local park days
  • Playing sports

After your student has settled in, ask them what experiences they want to have during their stay. Ask about their hobbies and anything else they want to learn. Include these activities in your plan (and do them with your student when possible). 

Check out these 10 fun indoor activities you can do with your student.

hosting requirements and commitments

To help ensure we have the best homestay families hosting students in our program, we ask all families several questions: 

  • Can you provide private accommodations (a room with a door)?
  • Does that room have a window, desk, bed, and drawers?
  • Can you provide three healthy meals per day?
  • Is your environment welcoming and safe?
  • Can you agree to speak only English around the student?
  • Have all adults in the home passed a criminal record check?
  • Can you provide the student with an unlimited high-speed wireless internet connection?
  • Are you able and willing to provide appropriate care and supervision of the student?

You must also commit to providing a culturally and socially rich environment for the student. This means providing experiences outside of the home, such as visiting museums, fun places in the community, local festivals, and other culturally or socially appropriate activities. 

Are you ready to get started?

If you’re interested in hosting an international student in your home, contact us for a no-obligation chat about the experience. Once your approved application is in our database, we’ll contact you about placements in your area. 

We’ve got students in Grades 8-12 and university students looking for placements in your area. Submit your application today, and you’ll be one step closer to impacting an international student’s life. 

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