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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.

Join Your Hosts for Meals and Events

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.

Know the Rules Upfront

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.

Bring a Gift for Your Hosts

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.

Be Open Minded

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.

Be Respectful of Local Culture and Customs

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.

Happy Holidays from Global Experience

From the entire team at Global Experience, we want to wish each every host family, student, and member of the community Happy Holidays. This year has been a spectacular one for everyone on the team with new opportunities, recognition beyond what we could have ever expected or hoped for, and the opportunity to work with so many more families and members of our community.

 

For everyone out there who has worked with us or is interested in learning more about our work with the international student community, here’s to a fantastic 2016. Be sure to take a look at our blog posts each week and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn where we frequently post new and interesting information for everyone in the community – whether you are a student or host family.

 

Join us in our discussions of what it means to be in Australia, whether you are originally from here or just visiting for a few months. More importantly, join us in showing the world why this is one of the places so many students from around the world choose to come for their time overseas.

 

To everyone out there, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays – here’s to a spectacular 2016.

Are you planning to visit Australia as a student for part or all of the academic year? If so, you’re in for a treat. Australia is regularly named one of the best places in the world for international students, and for good reason – the relaxed atmosphere, beautiful outdoors, and plentiful activities offer students of all types something to do in addition to their high quality education.

But Australia is a big country and there are several cities home to universities that might be a good fit for your education and travel goals. We regularly get this question and wanted to share some of the factors that go into deciding where in Australia you should visit during your homestay.

Top Universities

Australia’s education system is exceptional and has frequently been ranked among the best in the world, most recently 9th according to Study in Australia. With 8 of the top 100 Universities in the world and 5 out of the 30 best student cities in the world, there are a lot of options here for those that want to study in the country.

To start, you’ll find Melbourne and Sydney among the top 5 student cities in the world according to TopUniversities. Other Australian cities that make the top 30 include Canberra, Aukland, and Brisbane, giving you numerous options across the eastern side of the country to choose from.

Sydney and Melbourne’s Main Attractions

In Sydney and Melbourne specifically, though, there are several things to consider. Melbourne is known for its plethora of historical and cultural sites, as well as its big market scene – something you’ll find throughout the city during the fall months. We regularly write about Melbourne’s events and how they attract people from around the country and the globe each year.

Sydney offers a similarly urban experience, surrounded by the beauty of the country. With the Northern Beaches offering plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the outdoors, the Blue Mountains to the west offering getaways in the great outdoors over the weekends, and extensive cultural opportunities in Sydney’s Opera House, museums, gardens, and parks, there is enough to do here to keep you busy for several years, let alone months during your study program.

Where Should You Stay for an Australian Homestay?

There are many options, and even if you haven’t yet selected a University to apply to for your overseas study, you’ll find that each of the cities listed above offers substantial opportunities for you to explore a new culture and enjoy what Australia has to offer.

If you are considering Sydney or Melbourne, contact Global Experience. We work with students and host families throughout both cities to help them find the perfect homestay matches.

If you are considering becoming a host family for international students visiting Australia, there are a number of things to consider in advance. Most important of all, you want to be sure that the experience will be mutually beneficial – a chance to expose your family to new cultures and ideas while sharing the very best that you and the country of Australia have to offer to someone from overseas.

To help make your decision and to ensure you are fully comfortable and ready to welcome new people into your home, here are three questions you should ask yourself before signing up.

Do you have the time to help a student explore a new country?

One of the greatest benefits to both the international student and the host family is the ability of that family to include the new arrival in regular Australia activities. Visits to local events, celebrations of National holidays, or local sporting matches. These are all exciting events that your students will love.

But before signing on, ask yourself if you have the time to go to these events and enjoy them. If not, it may just not be time yet. Your children may be too young or work too hectic at the moment. Or you may need to rearrange some other responsibilities. Whatever the case, make sure everyone involved will have the time needed to fully enjoy the experience.

How will your family react to having a new person under the roof?

You will surely discuss the prospect with your family in advance, but think beyond their initial reaction to how they will interact with a new person in the house. How will children interact? How will they enjoy the new responsibilities or outings? Will it work within the schedule and the needs of everyone currently in the house?

More often than not, you’ll find hosting an overseas student to be incredibly beneficial to children. It helps them to really get to know a new culture and a new country. It helps them to bond with someone outside their family, and it helps them to explore their own country through the eyes of a new arrival.

Do you have the resources to welcome someone additional into your home?

Finally, there’s the matter of resources. Having an extra person under your roof will require you to spend time and some money to help them out. The cost isn’t the same as a child, but it does exist. This is often a reason why some host families hold out for longer before volunteering.

If this is the case, consider contacting Global Experience and asking to learn more about what we can do to help you prepare for an international student in your home. It truly is the experience of a life time and if you match the questions above, you will be a great fit. Contact us today to learn more.

If you are an international student preparing for a semester overseas in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne offer a number of fantastic options to help you acclimate to a new country, explore new opportunities overseas, and learn about a different culture. However, you may have some questions about the process of finding a homestay and ensuring it’s a good fit with the family you end up staying with.

Here is some basic information about the process and a few of the things you should keep in mind while preparing for your homestay in Sydney or Melbourne.

Choosing the Best Option for You

If you plan on staying in Australia for a semester overseas, there are a number of options to choose from. Standard homestay is very popular because it offers the opportunity to explore a new country with the support of a local family, but there are options as well, including:

  • Getting a student apartment
  • Sharing a house with other students
  • Choosing a VIP homestay

Before choosing an option for your stay, consider what will be most important to you on your trip. Are you eager to learn more about Australian culture, visit local Sydney or Melbourne landmarks, or focus primarily on your education in one of Australia’s universities? The end goal of your time will likely determine which of these makes the most sense for you.

How Homestay Works

If you do choose homestay, there are a number of benefits to the program. You’ll receive a room of your own with access to all of the amenities you would need – including bed, desk, chair, storage for clothes and possessions, two meals a day with the host family, and a third meal on the weekends if you are at home.

You also get a number of options such as shared accommodations in a homestay setting, laundry access and quick access to transportation. We, for example, ensure all of our host families are within 45 minutes via public transportation of the school at which you are studying.

Is Homestay Right for Me?

Depending on what you’re looking for from your time spent overseas, there are a number of benefits to homestay. If you are interested in learning more about how it works, who you might be staying with, and what other things you should consider when staying overseas, contact Global Experience and ask to learn more about our homestay opportunities for students like yourself.

Hosting an exchange student is a wonderful opportunity to share your love of your own country, as well as to learn about different ways of life and cultures. But not every student will be the best fit for every host family, and vice versa. In order to make everyone’s experience as positive and enriching as possible, it’s important to consider several different elements from both the host’s perspective and the student’s.

Activities and Interests

Since you’ll essentially be taking a stranger into your home, it’s nice if there are some areas of interest or activities that you can bond over quickly. For instance, if you like the outdoors and frequently go hiking, camping, fishing, or surfing, pairing you with a student who also enjoys these or similar things is a great way to get things started.

On the other hand, failure to take into account a lack of common interests can lead to a frustrating experience for both parties. To use the same example, placing a student who doesn’t enjoy the outdoors, or who has medical limitations that don’t permit them to engage in some of these types of activities, with a family that spends all their time outside will make things harder for everyone involved.

Practical Household Considerations

The makeup of your household will also have something to do with which student will make the best match, and this includes the number and type of pets you have, as well as any other children living with you and their ages.

When it comes to pets in particular, allergies to or the fear of certain animals may make your home a poor fit for some students. And you should never have the expectation that the student staying with you will share in the responsibility of caring for your pets. Of course, a student who enjoys animals and is placed in a home with them may want to help care for them, but it’s not something that should be forced on them.

Communication and Flexibility

While matching interests and personality types is an important part of creating a good host/student fit, a lot of what will eventually determine the quality of your relationship depends on what both of you bring into it. Clear and open communication is essential to building and maintaining a strong relationship with your student.

And to get things started off on the right track, it’s a good idea to lay out some basic house rules as soon as everyone gets settled. This will help limit the number of misunderstandings and make sure everyone is on the same page, especially since your student may be used to a different set of cultural norms

However, while it’s important to include your student in family activities and make sure that your expectations are clear, it’s not a good idea to try and dictate how they spend all of their time. Flexibility is essential, as this will most likely be a period of huge personal growth in their lives. As their host, you have a unique opportunity to support and nurture this growth, and that is best achieved by finding the right balance between structure and openness.

Photo: CreativeCommons Duncan Rawlings, https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastminute

Hosting a young person from another part of the world has many benefits. It will expose you to a different culture, give your kids a new perspective on the world, and allow you to share all of the things you love about your country with someone new. But hosting also comes with a great deal of responsibility, and in order to make your visitor’s stay as positive and enriching as it can be, there are several things you can do.

Limits and Flexibility

One very important first step to take when your student arrives is to go over the ground rules for the house. You should think a lot about this ahead of time, and include things like how often and when you want them to check in with you when they’re out with friends, what your expectations are for keeping the house clean, and what type of routines you have at mealtimes.

Keep in mind that your student may be used to a completely different set of cultural norms, and in order to anticipate some of the potential sticking points, you may want to research their home culture a bit first.

As important as these rules are, though, it’s also essential that you not try and manage every detail of the time they spend under your roof. One of the great benefits to hosting is that it allows you to learn about the culture your visitor is coming from, and you can’t do that if you create too many rules that act as barriers to them being themselves.

It can be a fine line to walk at times, and your rules and expectations will likely shift as you build a relationship with your student. This means that open communication is essential, and that you need to pay attention to their changing needs as well as your own.

Desire to Learn

It’s easy to slip into the role of teacher as a host and forget that there’s actually a lot you can learn from your visitor. Allowing them to share as much as they want to of their culture with you can make them feel much more comfortable and at home, and it’s also a great opportunity for you and your family to broaden your own horizons.

Patience with Yourself

This relationship you’re entering into can be a very rewarding one, but navigating daily life with a new family member will definitely bring its own set of challenges. While it’s important that you always try to keep things positive and maintain an open mind, it’s also true that you can’t force things to turn out perfectly all of the time.

You need to be patient with yourself and accept your own limitations in order to provide the best overall experience for your visitor. And you also need to pay attention to what type of person they are so you can plan activities that they’ll enjoy. Dragging someone who hates the outdoors around to all of your favourite camping sites probably isn’t going to help them gain an appreciation of your country.

And as excited as you may be with the arrival of your student, it’s important to recognise that the other members of your family might need more time to adjust. Just because you’re thrilled to have a new addition, you can’t expect them to get involved in the same way, and forcing the issue will only make relationships more strained. Give everyone time to get comfortable with each other, and good relationships will form much more naturally.

Knowing What Not to Share

While it’s very important to include your student in family activities and make them feel as welcome as possible, there are also some parts of your family’s life that they don’t need to be included in. For instance, going to visit a family member in the hospital or a nursing home probably isn’t the most enriching way to spend their time, and if they have no relationship with the family member you are visiting, it could be awkward or uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Naturally, your goal as a host family is to make your student’s stay as enriching and rewarding as possible. Finding the right balance between structure and flexibility is vital to helping all of you get as much out of the experience as possible, and taking time to really think about what you’ll do, and how you’ll handle different aspects of your living arrangements is an important step to ensure you’re as accommodating and supportive to your guest as you can be.

Hosting an international student is a wonderful way to help a young person from another part of the world, but it also brings with it many benefits for you as the host family. While you may first consider hosting as a way to help others, you’ll be surprised by how the experience will enrich your family life as well.

Cultural Exchange

One unavoidable part of living with someone from another part of the world is experiencing a different culture. Sure, they’re coming to your country to learn about your culture and way of life, but you’ll also learn a lot about theirs as long as you’re open to it.

This can be a great opportunity for you as well as for your children. Being around people from a different culture is one of the best ways for your kids to learn tolerance and acceptance of a variety of ways of life and beliefs, and being a host family allows you to give them this experience right in their own home.

Growing Your Family

Another wonderful thing about hosting is that you very quickly add another special member to your family. The bonds you form by inviting a young person from another part of the world into your home and helping them experience life in your country will last a lifetime, as will the memories you create.

Share Your Country

There are many things to love about Australia, and this is the perfect opportunity to share these with another person. In fact, you can learn a lot about where you live in the process, and it may just push you to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to. And showing someone else around can help you see your own country and community in a whole new way, which is a wonderful experience as well.

Unique Experiences

Hosting an international student is unlike anything else you’ll ever do in your life. It’s a unique and incredibly enriching experience. As the host, you’ll benefit doubly – first by feeling good that you can help a young person expand their horizons and live their dream, and second by exposing yourself to the wonders of another culture and the joy of being able to add a new special family member.

A New Destination

The bonds you form with your student can last a lifetime, and that also means you may want to visit them in their own country once they’re home. This is a great way to complete the circle of sharing by letting them open their homes to you, and it’s also a nice way to expand your vacation destination options. Visiting your student in their home country will also help you complete your understanding of them by seeing them in their home setting.

Image Courtesy: Old Globe – Kenneth Lu – https://www.flickr.com/photos/toasty/

In 2012, approximately 402,000 international students travelled to Australia to enrich their education and experience authentic Australian culture. And as an international destination, Australia is only becoming more popular.
In fact, the International Education Advisory Council of Australia recently reported that by 2020, they are expecting a 30 percent growth, to nearly 520,000 international students per year.
If you’ve considered becoming a host family for an international student or traveller, now is a great time to join this unique cross-cultural experience.

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