Study Links

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Being a homestay

A homestay is a family that hosts international students whilst they are holidaying or studying in a different country. A homestay is sometimes known as a ‘host family’. The two terms have exactly the same meaning.

For students, the experience of a homestay consists of a holiday or period of time spent abroad, studying and living in the home of a local family. For a homestay, the experience consists of hosting international students for a period of time whilst they are in the local area, studying or holidaying.

Being a homestay is a rewarding experience which involves taking care of an international student whilst they are in the UK and providing them with their basic needs including a bed, food, and place to study.

Some people worry that they don’t have enough time to commit to hosting students, however hosting students fits in perfectly around work and other commitments. Most students only need short term homestay during school holidays, and many homestay families with children find that this fits in with their own children’s holidays.

If you work full time, you can host long term students over the age of 14 who can take care of themselves during the day. If you are lucky enough not to work, you can host a student under 14 who will need full time supervision. If you are a stay-at-home parent or a retired grandparent, it can be very rewarding to host a younger student, who becomes a great play mate for your own children or grandchildren. 

Click here to apply to become a Study Links homestay.

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What does being a homestay involve?

Homestays ensure that students feel welcome by providing a warm household setting and helping them become familiar with the local area. International students come to the UK to improve their English so we encourage homestays to converse with students as much as possible; we suggest talking to them about British culture and in return asking them about their home country and culture. This is a wonderful opportunity to share our great British values and at the same time learn about other cultures from around the world. For many homestays it is this interaction and unique intercultural experience that makes the experience so rewarding.

Some homestay families open their homes to students because they miss their own children who have flown the nest or because they have suddenly found themselves in an empty house. Students give these homestays a new lease of life, offering them an opportunity to be more social and share their experiences with students whilst learning more about other cultures and forming new friendships.

If you think you are too old to host a student, think again! Many of our homestay families are retired people with lovely homes and loving friendship to offer.

For many students being in a comfortable, peaceful environment where they can study is absolute heaven in comparison with the confinements of a bustling dormitory.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the experience can be very rewarding for families who have children of their own as students are often very willing to help out and teach your children about their country as well as being a positive role model and inspiration to your children.

There is no blueprint for the perfect homestay: single, couple or family; young, middle-aged or retired; any race, creed or colour – as long as you are a caring person with a genuine interest in the students that you host, you will be perfect!

Benefits of being a homestay

Some of the benefits include:

  • Meeting new people, making new friends
  • Sharing experiences and learning about new cultures
  • Caring for someone who is far from home and needs a friend
  • Having some company and filling a spare room
  • Earning some extra income

In our experience, homestay families get even more than they ever anticipated out of hosting a student. Many homestays forge lifelong friendships with students and their families back home. Students often keep in touch for many years, visiting the homestays in future and even inviting them to their home countries.

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Why work with us

At Study Links, we have a dedicated, friendly, homestay team who you will come to know well and who will become friends to you. Unlike some companies, to whom homestays are simply profiles on a website, we have genuine relationships with all of our homestays. If you choose to join us, we will visit you regularly to check that you are happy, and will contact you during and after every visit to ensure that any problems are resolved, seeking to make the next experience even more enjoyable.

We believe that we offer our homestay families something that other companies don’t – a community. Our homestay families are our friends and we throw regular parties including our annual Summer BBQ and Christmas pot luck party.

When you host a student for Study Links, you can rest assured that you are not completely alone in the care of the students. We are their guardians, so if ever anything goes wrong, one phone call to us and we will take control of the situation. We have a 24 hour emergency line in case you ever have any problems that need to be resolved immediately.

How we match students with homestays

When you register with Study Links you will be asked lots questions on the application form. This is not because we are nosy but because we want to find out as much about you as we possibly can in order to match you to the perfect student.

We upload all of the information that we have about our homestay families and students to our database. The Study Links database then searches for corresponding interests and values to give a number of possible matches.

Then, a member of the homestay team looks at the possible matches and because they know all of our homestay families well, they can make an informed decision on which student would be the most suitable match for each homestay family.

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What happens if the student is not right for you?

We have lots of experience matching students with homestays and we are confident that our system ensures that both parties get the best possible match. On occasion students want to move out of a particular homestay because of cultural differences. At Study Links, we always aim to resolve cultural differences in order to avoid the same misunderstanding in future homestays. Usually, once the misunderstanding is explained, both the homestay and student are very happy to continue with the experience.

An anecdote which illustrates this point very well revolves around a student’s bath towel:

A young Chinese boy was staying with a lovely homestay family. The boy was very polite and the family all really enjoyed his company. There was just one thing which kept driving the mother of the household mad: for some reason the student insisted on leaving a damp cloth on a coat hanger which he hung from the picture rail in the bathroom. The cloth stuck to the bare plaster wall and dripped all over the floor and because of the cold damp climate in the UK, would not dry. The mother told the boy off time and time again, but he continued to do this. Eventually, the homestay rang Study Links. Immediately, we were able to explain why the boy was behaving in the seemingly bizarre way.

In the UK, we use dry fluffy towels which have been warmed on the radiator because it is cold when we come out of the shower. In hot, damp climates such as China, it is hot when you come out of the shower and people dry themselves with thin damp cloths, which have been well rung out. This has the effect of leaving a film of moisture on the skin which helps the body to cool down, much like you might put a cold compress on someone’s head if they had a temperature. The boy, who had never used a warm fluffy dry towel in his life, couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong. Study Links were able to explain the misunderstanding and the reasons for it to both parties, resolving the situations and restoring harmony to the household.

More often than not, we are able to smooth out differences and honest mistakes by explaining the cultural difference which has given rise to them and mediating between the two parties.

However, it is also true that people sometimes just don’t get on. If the problem is unresolvable, then we will make sure we find the student a new homestay for the next holiday. If you insist that the student is moved immediately then we can accommodate this, but it may result in non-payment (assessed on a case-by-case basis).

I have some more questions

To find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions including ‘How much allowance will I get?’ read our FAQs here. If you still have questions contact us and we will be more than happy to answer them.

Become a Study Links homestay

To find out more about being a Study Links homestay, view our information/ application form here.

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Interested in being a homestay? Request a call.