What is homestay like?: An interview with an experienced host
If you plan to learn English abroad, accommodation can be a hard choice. Why choose a homestay?
Staying with a host family can offer the most unique experience, for students who really want to understand the culture of their destination while enjoying all the comforts of home.
We spoke to Linda, who has been hosting students for 35 years – with no plans of stopping!
“I started hosting students in the 1980s,” says Linda. “I lived in Bournemouth, which had a lot of English language schools. I thought it sounded like a nice way of making a little extra money for my family and I decided to give it a go.”
But very quickly, Linda, found it hugely rewarding to meet, live with and care for students from all around the world. “When people come to share your home with you,” she says, “they really can become part of the family. Each student is different but those who want to integrate, get so much in return, and the family does too. My favourite students have been those who take their experience seriously and enjoy all aspects of it – they want to try new things, get to know new people and improve their English – and they see their time at home as part of that.”
Every hosting experience is different for Linda, and she allows each individual the space to relax and feel at home in their own way. When a new student arrives, she welcomes them in, and shows them their room and around the house. “Accommodation of course varies between different hosts and homes,” she says, “but my students are always very happy with their double room. There are no bunk beds here!”
She asks if there are certain foods they don’t like or can’t eat, and what their preferences are too. “I always try to cook what they like,” she says. Meals are freshly prepared – breakfast and dinner every day, with an extra packed lunch on weekends. She offers to clean their room and wash their clothes when they need, and is happy to chat and help them practise their language.
Linda has made friends for life through her hosting. “Many of them even call me ‘Mum’ when we speak on Facebook,” she laughs, “even those who are now grown up, married and with children of their own!”
Now Linda’s children are grown up and she lives alone, she continues to see her students as an important part of her life. “I really enjoy sharing my home and I’ll always do it,” she says. “Even if I move house I will always make sure I have a spare room for my students.”
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