Fact Sheet: Living in Homestay
The following information has been provided to help you understand what it will be like living in an AHN Homestay placement.
All hosts are trained and supported to ensure that they are capable of delivering the best quality of service to students. This means their house is inspected and approved by a supervisor and also that they must have read training information and passed an online assessment. Hosts also sign a contract that clearly sets out standards they must meet. These standards are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both student and host and to provide the best experience possible for both.
Your host has been selected because they best meet the requirements set out in your Profile, so it’s very important that you fill out your profile as accurately as possible. They are there to assist you and help you adjust to life in Australia, but they may be very busy with their own family so it is up to you to join in with the household routine and enjoy it with them. Many hosts will also work outside the home in paid employment or belong to sporting clubs.
Your Homestay Home
All homestay homes are not the same. Your host may be a single person with or without children. Homestay is not to be confused with staying in a hotel where all services requested are paid for. You will need to look after your own needs and know how to do your laundry and prepare your own breakfast and lunch in some cases. You will need to assist in the household by keeping your room clean and tidy and helping with the washing up after the evening meal. Your host will show you how to do these things but you may need to ask.
English as a Second Language
English may not be your host’s first language, but please rest assured that a high level of spoken English is a Standard under the contract your host has signed with your supervisor. Your host may have an accent when they speak English, which depends on their country of origin.
Being a “guest” in someone’s home
In some cultures, a “Guest” in a home is not expected to do anything; the Guest is treated like visiting royalty. However, when you come to Australia and live in a Homestay situation you will be expected to do many things for yourself. If in your home country you have had servants to look after you it is important to remember that your host is not a servant.
Pets in your Homestay Home
Your host may have animals living in the house with them. Many hosts have pets so requesting a host without pets may deprive you of staying with a kind and loving family. Some dogs and cats live outside the home and you can choose to interact with them if you want to. It is your own responsibility to check with your host about any concerns or requirements.
Communication skills are one of the most rewarding assets to assist you in your future life. Asking questions and letting your host know if you are happy or unhappy is important. Your host wants you to enjoy your homestay experience, so smile and explain politely if there is something you do not understand. Your host will happily assist you to adapt to your new lifestyle.
Getting to and from your Education Provider
The journey to your place of study will be explained to you by your host who will also give you a small card with their name and address and telephone number clearly written. If you get lost at all or cannot find your way home this card is useful to show a taxi driver or a friend who can assist you. Make sure you carry this card at all times.
Drinking in your Host's Home
If your host offers alcohol you may choose to drink it or not without offence. If you plan to take alcohol to your room then you must have your host’s permission. You still need to be 18 or over to drink in the home.
Conversation at the Dinner Table
Conversation at the dinner table is valued in Australia and Australians may feel awkward if there is silence. This is a good time to practice your English speaking skills.
Smoking in your Host’s home
The majority of hosts will not allow smoking in their homes. If you smoke you must declare this on your AHN Profile so you can be placed in an appropriate home. Even if your host allows you to smoke this may mean only outside the home and they will show you where you can do this and how to dispose of your cigarette ends. Follow the rules of the household and never smoke in your room without permission.
Keeping your Host Informed
Your host will expect to know where you are at all times and must advise your supervisor if you do not arrive home when you have advised. If you plan to spend the evening with your friends and not return home for your evening meal you must let your host know in advance. A telephone call at lunch time is all that is needed. If your hosts go to work then ask them how you may leave a message. If you are staying out with your friends overnight or going away for the weekend don’t forget to let your host know and advise them of the time of your return. If this time changes then contact them again.
Having your Friends Visit
If you would like to invite your friends to your host’s home remember always to ask permission first. Always be friendly, polite and courteous to your host, they have opened up their home to you.
Use of the Bathroom
It is most important to communicate with your host family regarding the use of the bathroom. Australia is often in drought so ask your host how much water you may use. Most homes have a hot water system from which hot water is run directly into the bath. If you fill the bath with hot water, there will be no hot water for anyone else to bath or shower with. It is usual to spend no more than four (4) minutes in the shower. You should not occupy the bathroom for more than fifteen minutes or others will be kept waiting.
Recycling is popular in Australia and you may notice that your host has two garbage bins. Ask your host to let you know the correct usage of these bins and put your rubbish in the right bin.
Locking your Door
Your supervisor will require your host to provide locks to your bedroom door and a key to the home. This key must be returned on your departure and replaced if it is lost. It is important to take great care of this key. If it is lost and found by a thief then they would be able to enter your host’s home and take their belongings. If you close your door, it will be a sign to your host that you do not wish to be disturbed.
If you are unhappy in your homestay report this to your supervisor. Your supervisor will assist you with any queries you may have. Their contact details can be found by logging into your student account.