If you are preparing to move to Australia for a study overseas program, there are several options for your stay. You can find temporary accommodations, get a roommate and an apartment or opt for homestay with a local family.
The latter option is often recommended for those worried they will miss home, who want to maintain a strong support structure, and who are eager to learn more about Australian culture. If you are among those interested in homestay, here are five tips to ensure you get the most out of the program during your visit.
When you choose your homestay program, there will be an option to include meals. It’s recommended that you do this so you can get to know the local dishes, spend some quality time with your host family, and have at least one block of time every day during which you relax with people you know.
Communicate clearly with your host family at all times. This starts the moment you arrive in Australia. Make it clear you intend to follow the rules, but also make sure you fully understand what they are. Learn about issues like curfew, meal times, communication preferences, and what to do in the case of an emergency. You should also learn rules as they relate to pets, children, and access to different parts of the home.
While not required by any means, bringing a gift is a great way to break the ice and get to know your host family. It allows you to share a bit about your culture, introduce yourself and your interests, and spark a conversation on day one. It’s also a polite way to introduce yourself to a family who will be taking you into their home for several weeks. It’s likely they will do the same for you.
You’re entering a new country with customs and culture you may not be familiar with. Regardless of your strength with the language, many things will be unfamiliar, at least a first. So be open minded, willing to try new things, and flexible. While your host family will certainly do everything they can to make you feel at home, that might mean something different than you are used to. Be willing to try new things and engage with your new host family throughout this time.
If you communicate openly with your host family when you arrive, are open minded to the daily routine, and spend some time with them, this will be much easier. Take some time to observe and learn what the “norm” is in your new household. Whether it is a custom you are unfamiliar with or a religious observation, be respectful of what those things represent to your host family and how you can engage with them.
Studying overseas is one of the best ways to learn more about a new culture, engage with amazing people, and build memories that will stick with you the rest of your life. Follow the five steps above and your homestay will be a big part of those memories.