Living with a homestay may be a new to you, but don’t worry, it will be an incredibly positive experience, and one that you will never forget.
What is 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 a student, the experience of 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.
Benefits of living in a homestay
Though it can be challenging and difficult being away from home, having the support of a caring homestay ensures that you have the comforts of a family whilst you are in the UK.
Another benefit of living with a homestay is that they really are the best English teacher that you could ever hope for. Whilst the English that you will learn at School suits your academic needs, the English that you learn from your homestay will be the conversational English that you will use for the rest of your life.
Your homestay will also teach you about British culture and cuisine. They will take you for day trips, show you their local area and introduce you to wonderfully British things such as fish and chips, English dialects and British music.
After staying with your homestay on multiple occasions, it is likely that you will form a lifelong bond; many students regularly come back to the UK to visit their homestay or invite their homestay families to their home countries to meet their real families.
What makes a Study Links homestay special?
Study Links’ homestays are caring families who host students because they enjoy doing so. They have every student’s best interest at heart and ensure that the students in their care are well looked after.
Study Links homestays go through a rigorous application process before they host students. This involves filling out a thorough application form, being visited by a member of the Study Links team and being DBS-checked (a police check). We also ask for your feedback about the homestay after every visit.
What is it like living with a homestay?
Living with a homestay means becoming part of a British family. You’ll eat meals with your homestay and join in with their social activities. You may also be invited to join your homestay on their evening and weekend activities such as going to the cinema and visiting friends.
Your homestay will make your meals and provide you with clean sheets and towels however you will be responsible for keeping your room tidy and cleaning up any mess you make.
Where are Study Links’ homestays?
Study Links’ homestays cover the whole of the UK.
What is there to do at a Study Links homestay?
There are many stereotypes about British people (e.g. that we play a lot of cricket) but you will probably be surprised to find that the homestay that you stay with aren’t ‘typically’ British at all.
Each Study Links homestay is different. Some homestay may be very sporty, whilst others may be very interested in art or music. When you register with Study Links you will have to fill in a questionnaire about your preferences. This is so that we can match you with the best homestay. If you are a sporty person we will try to match you with a homestay who play lots of sports. If you are a musical student we will try to match you with a homestay who play music and have musical instruments that you can use.
Please note that if you want to try a certain activity which isn’t part of a homestay’s normal routine, you may be charged for this activity.
What is the food like?
Every homestay will serve different types of food depending on their own tastes and preferences. Unlike Thailand or Italy, the UK doesn’t have a strong identity when it comes to food. British people enjoy typically British foods such as a roast dinner or fish and chips, however you will find that as a nation we appreciate a variety of different foods from different countries and cultures. For example the nation’s favourite dish is a chicken tikka masala, a westernised version of a traditional Indian curry.
When we match you with a homestay we will match your preferences so that you are placed with homestay whose tastes match your own. For example, if you are a vegetarian we will place you with a homestay who is also vegetarian or can accommodate vegetarians.
That said, you should be prepared to eat a wide variety of foods. If you are not sure about something which your homestay serves, try it, you might just like it. Always be polite, even if you do not enjoy the food try to eat what you can, but sensitively explain that you would prefer to try something different in the future.
How many meals do students get per day?
The number of meals you will get per day depends on the service that you request from Study Links. Most students will receive breakfast, lunch and dinner.
How do you match students with Study Links homestay?
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 can to achieve the closest possible match between you and a homestay.
We upload all of the information that we have about our homestays and students on our database. The Study Links database searches for corresponding interests and values to give a number of possible matches.
Then, a member of the homestay team then looks at the possible matches and because they know students well, they can make an informed decision on which homestay would be the most suitable match for each student.
What happens if a student doesn’t want to stay with the homestay that they have been paired with?
We have lots of experience matching students with homestay 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 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.
For example, use of eye contact varies greatly by culture. Students from many Asian cultures show respect by avoiding eye contact with authority figures. In a situation where a homestay might be telling a student off, this could be mistaken for rudeness because in European cultures it is considered rude not to make eye contact with someone when they are speaking directly to you.
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 sometimes people just don’t get on. If the problem is unresolvable, then we will make sure we find you a new homestay for the next holiday. If you insist on being moved immediately, then we can accommodate this, but you may still have to pay for the original homestay (depending on the circumstance).
Things to consider…
Living with a homestay in a city
- It can be great fun living in a city, especially if you like shopping and eating out in restaurants.
- Not many homestays live in city centres. You may have to live quite far out of the city centre and further away from school which makes travelling more expensive.
- Large cities are usually more dangerous than towns and villages.
- Inner-city houses are typically smaller than houses in the suburbs. This means that you are more likely to have a small or shared room.
- Many students choose to live in the city, so homestays are quickly booked up.
Living with a homestay in the country
- If you’re a person who likes the great outdoors, animals and cross country running mean you’ll really enjoy spending your holiday in the country.
- There is lots to do, and best of all, the majority is free! For example hiking, walking and cycling.
- Most schools are located in the country, so it can feel quite similar to being at school.
- It can be difficult to get anywhere. For example, if you wanted to go to the shops you may find that you are reliant upon your homestay giving you a lift.
Living with a homestay in the south of England
- Lots of students want to live in the South of England so that they are close to London. This is understandable as London is the capital of the UK and there is lots to see and do there.
- The cost of living is much higher in the south, which means things such as travel and eating out are more expensive
- Many students choose to live in the south of England, so the homestays are quickly booked-up
Living with a homestay in the north of England
- The north of England is often overlooked by international students who choose to come to the UK to study. However, there is actually lots going on.
- The cost of living is much cheaper in the north therefore, which means things such as travel and eating out are cheaper
- Areas close to the national railway network have fast trains that take you all over the country, meaning you can go on day-trips to London and other cities.
- The north isn’t and will never be London. If you really want to experience London specifically, no other place will be exactly the same.
Is a homestay the same as a guardian?
No. At Study Links, your homestay is different to your guardian. Your homestay is only responsible for giving you a welcoming home to live in and for making you part of their family during your stay. If you have any problems at your homestay, it is your guardian who helps sort them out. Your guardian is also responsible for your academic and personal development both in and out of school, and to help you in an emergency.