Profile of a homestay
A homestay is a safe and convenient place for an international student or traveller to live in while studying abroad. Unlike a boarding house or rental apartment, the student lives with a host family and experiences the new culture and language as a member of the family. The student often lives at the homestay for a long term of more than a month, but some families accept students for shorter periods of just a few nights.
International students often get their own private room (sometimes a shared room) and meals are usually included—no need to cook! Many families also provide a desk and quiet place to study. Further, a homestay is an excellent opportunity to practice English outside of school: the student is completely immersed in the language that he or she is studying. In contrast, students living in an apartment with roommates who speak their same native language or in a dorm often don't learn as much.
Homestay families will help travellers adjust to their new life. Visitors often experience exciting new holidays and family events that they've never seen before. Sometimes, families will invite their guests to participate in recreational activities and sports events. The student is often treated as a member of the family, eating meals with them and being part of family conversations.
Transportation within the city is often by public transport, but some families will walk with the student to the nearest bus stop on the first day. You can view information about nearby transit services in each homestay listing on HomestayBay. Information about public transportation in Kitchener-Waterloo is also available.
Profile of a homestay student
- Most homestay guests are in their 20s, but people of any age can stay at a homestay.
- Generally international students, but sometimes university/college students or people doing internships or short term jobs.
Profile of a homestay family
- Friendly and interested in travelling and learning about world cultures.
- Parents with children are the most common, but single parents and retired parents also host foreign exchange students.
- The family speaks the native language of the city at home.
- Host a foreign exchange student
Advice for foreign students
- When you contact a homestay, always ask questions to ensure that they offer everything you need.
- Ask your homestay parents about rules they might have. Every family is different, but the following are some examples of rules you might be asked to follow:
- Dinner is eaten with the family at a specific time. Your homestay parents might ask you to call if you cannot make it on time for dinner.
- Students are asked to keep their bedroom clean.
- Students must call their homestay parents if they will be late.
- Students must ask for permission before bringing friends home.
- Time in the shower time might be limited each day.
- Most homestays will include 2-3 meals per day and access to the Internet, a television, the kitchen, and laundry. Always verify what is available and if there are any extra fees so that you are not surprised.
- In some homestays, both parents work and may not have much time to spend with you. We suggest asking if both parents work to help decide if it is the right homestay for you.
- Host families for foreign students