For students, homestay accommodation offers a rich opportunity for cross-cultural exchange within a welcoming family environment. Homestay is not a one-way relationship, however, where students are absolved of any responsibility for the success of the arrangement. The following section outlines what students can do to ensure that their homestay experience is a positive one. Students should be aware that they can contact the homestay coordinator at any time if they have an immediate concern about their health or welfare.
A. General Expectations
- Students and their parents should sign an agreement outlining the house rules and requirements, accepted behaviours within a homestay program, as well as any additional costs and methods of payment.
- Attend an orientation with the Homestay Coordinator and adhere to the guidelines provided via the Web, pamphlets, and other advice given about the Homestay Program.
- Make every effort to cooperate with the Homestay Coordinator in evaluating the homestay placement.
- Participate fully as a member of the homestay family.
B. Building Positive Relationships with the Homestay Family
Students are encouraged to develop positive relationships with homestay families, based on mutual trust and open communication. Students should also take responsibility for their own practices, behaviours and needs.
- Communicate in an honest and respectful way with members of the homestay family and the Homestay Coordinator.
- Communicate with the homestay family on a day-to-day basis and be open about needs and wants such as the need to make a late night phone call or being hungry after meals.
- Be open to participating in family activities; decline politely and honestly when participation is not possible.
- Make every effort to take full advantage of the cultural exchange and family environment that homestay provides. Keep contact with parents and friends in home country to a level that does not hinder the development of a fulfilling relationship with the homestay family.
- Be aware of acceptable levels of hospitality and do not exploit of the generosity offered by the homestay family.
- Ask the homestay family for permission if planning to be absent for a meal or to participate in social activities outside the home.
- Be considerate of the needs of the members of the homestay family in the use of common household areas, sharing the bathroom and laundry facilities, using the telephone, television, computer, and Internet.
- Ask the homestay family about the use of the telephone for long distance calls as well as rules regarding appropriate use of the computer.
- Maintain a clean and tidy bedroom and help with household chores such as setting or clearing the table and keeping common living spaces clean and tidy.
C. Openness to Cultural Exchange
While students have a right to expect that every effort will be made to place them in the most appropriate homestay families given their interests, their dietary and physical needs, and any health concerns such as allergies to pets, they should understand that Canadian families are incredibly diverse in terms of composition, ethnicity, religious practices and income level.
- Respect and be aware that cultural differences and beliefs of the homestay family may be different from their own.
- Adopt an attitude of openness and curiosity when it comes to cultural sharing.
- Avoid stereotypical expectations of what constitutes a Canadian family and the sort of practices and behaviours they should engage in.
- Institutions and homestay agencies cannot be expected to honour placement requests that would be considered discriminatory in nature.
D. Abiding by Rules, Laws and Regulations
Respect and adhere to the guidelines and rules for living in the household as outlined by the homestay family which may include conditions such as no smoking, no alcohol, spending a limited amount of time in the shower or bath, leaving the bathroom tidy, and keeping the bedroom clean.
- Seek permission from the homestay family before inviting friends to visit or stay.
- Abide by Canadian laws. For example, wear bicycle helmets and seat belts; respect the legal age of drinking and smoking.
- Ask their parents to contact the homestay family and give permission for any late nights or overnight stays, if allowed by their school division or program policy.
- Be considerate and keep noise to minimum after 8:30 pm.
- Show courtesy by informing the homestay family of their plans and schedule, in respecting meals times and in honouring arrangements made with the homestay family.
- Show courtesy and respect by speaking English at all times.
E. Health and Welfare
- Advise the Homestay Coordinator immediately of any health or welfare worries about the homestay placement.
- Students should take relevant precautions to ensure their personal health and the health of their homestay environment by consulting safety guidelines such as those found on the Manitoba Public Health website: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/ipc.html
- Keep all valuables, money, passport and airline tickets in a safe place and avoid carrying or storing large amounts of cash in the home.
F. Concerns and Grievances
- Be aware that homestay families are unlikely to meet stereotypical images of Canadian families. Be open to accepting and adapting to the diversity of family situations.
- Remain for at least one month in the initial homestay placement unless serious concerns arise.
- Discuss any minor concerns directly with the homestay family, for example, a need for more blankets or a desire to eat certain foods.
- Contact the Homestay Coordinator to discuss any serious concerns regarding the placement. Students may request a change of homestay placement if there are serious health and welfare concerns that cannot be addressed or if mediation efforts fail to resolve issues that arise.
- Understand and respect the role of the Homestay Coordinator in managing and resolving conflicts and complaints. Do not discuss serious complaints or concerns with other students or host families.
- If students wish to leave the homestay program completely, they are required to give two weeks notice before their intended departure date, fulfill all financial obligations as specified by their homestay program and ensure that appropriate custodianship arrangements are in place.
- Students cannot leave the homestay program without the prior approval of their parents and the Homestay Coordinator.
- Be aware that homestay families may be away for short periods of time in which case alternative homestay accommodation will be provided by the homestay program. In this case, the homestay coordinator will notify students’ parents.
G. Financial Arrangements
- Students and their parents must meet all financial obligations within the homestay program; this includes paying all fees in accordance with program policy as well as reimbursing the homestay family for any damage caused within the household.
- Meet all personal expenses which are not covered by the homestay fee such as travel, entertainment, telephone calls, medical expenses and other personal, incidental costs.
- Mandatory emergency health coverage is required through Studentguard Insurance. Students may wish to purchase additional insurance to ensure full coverage for loss/damage to personal effects.