Lodging with host families

Ever considered living with a host family during your studies? Lodging with families can be a rewarding living experience and different to your typical shared house. 

Daily contact with the local people, learning about eating and living habits and using your language skills right away are some of the key benefits of choosing a homestay in Birmingham. If you are interested in both the language itself and also learning about the lifestyle, habits and customs of the host in Birmingham during your stay, then you will find that living with a host family is the perfect choice. 

If I stay with a host family what should I expect?

The family will treat you as a guest and you will be expected to obey house rules. All families provide a private or shared room (depending on location) with access to all living areas in the house and family meals. In most cases students will be expected to share the bathroom. Living with a host family is the most interesting and effective way to become fully immersed in your host country’s language and culture.

The advantages of living with a host family

 

You can perfect your language skills

Living with a host family is the best way for you to truly master English. You have no other options but to use English. While the English that you learn at University is sufficient for your academic needs, it may not be suitable for daily conversational situations.

You can immerse yourself in local culture

There is no better way to experience the ‘British way of life’ than involving yourself in it as much as possible. By living like a local, you completely absorb the culture of the family you are living with.

It is more economical

Living with a host family is usually cheaper than renting privately. You may spend a bit more on transport, but with hot proper meals ready and rooms that are possibly bigger than most standard  bedrooms, it is better value for money.

You have a family away from home

The host family will be available for you whenever you need some help.

Independence

Study abroad gives students the ability to use the skills their parents and teachers have instilled in them throughout the years and apply them in real-life situations. Parents are forced to loosen the grip they've had on their children for so long and trust that their children will thrive on their own.

Confidence

In addition to gaining independence, study abroad students also tend to gain more confidence. Many students tend to participate more in class as a result of communicating with their host family. Or, some may find that that the out-of-class, hands-on lessons help them retain information easier and perform better on classroom assignments. Even the most seemingly confident individuals have self-doubts. Living and learning in another country often helps reduce insecurities by revealing strengths.

 

How do I get the most out of staying with a host family?

Communication

Clear communication is perhaps the most important issue to successfully living with a host family. Only when everyone involved knows what is expected of them, and what to expect in return, can honest relationships develop. To avoid cross-cultural confusion after you move in, make sure you clarify certain details before you descend upon your host family. Ask where you will sleep and store your possessions, which meals you will eat with the family and which you will be expected to prepare for yourself and also where you will store any food or snacks you purchase.

It is also important to arrange access to laundry facilities, internet and telephone, your responsibilities regarding younger children and pets and any chores you will be expected to complete.

You should also ask if the family has any curfew expectations and how they feel about alcohol and tobacco use.

Cleanliness

While you are meant to feel like a part of your host family while you are living abroad, you must be sure to up your cleanliness levels and help out around the house. Putting all dirty laundry in a laundry bag and washing it on a regular basis, hanging up wet towels and laundry and cleaning your bathroom regularly, will show the family that you respect them and their home.

There are other cleaning task that you should do during your stay such as changing your sheets weekly, washing up after you prepare food and/or eat a meal or snack, wiping down all kitchen surfaces, keeping all University supplies neatly tucked away, leaving any room as clean as you found it and helping out during a general family clean up.

Caring

 Even if you have spelled out all of your rights and responsibilities, living with a host family will only be truly successful if you put your heart into the endeavour. Anyone can pay rent and become a tenant, but becoming part of the family and making lasting relationships requires caring. Show that you care in small ways such as:

  • Bringing a gift when you arrive
  • Offering to cook a traditional meal for the family
  • Assisting with family scheduling and chores
  • Duplicating photos that you take of yourself and the host family
  • Selecting meaningful parting gifts when it is time to go home

 Living with a host family should be a time for you to truly experience a new culture. With a little bit of communication, cleanliness and caring, living with a host family will be an exceptional experience that you will never forget

 

Summary of rules

  • If you are unhappy with something discuss it with your family host. If the problem continues speak to Accommodation Services and if the problem cannot be solved alternative accommodation may be found
  • Find out what the arrangements are for laundry and using the telephone when you arrive. You are expected to pay the cost of any telephone calls. A suitable arrangement should be discussed with your host family
  • Smoking is only permitted within the property with the prior agreement of the host family. Please ensure that you observe any restrictions with regards to where you may smoke
  • If you are going to be out overnight, let the host family know so they do not worry about you
  • If you are not planning to eat a meal at home, let your host family know beforehand so they do not prepare a meal for you
  • Show respect for the host family home and property. If you break or damage anything tell your host family as soon as possible and offer to pay for it
  • If you are cold, ask them for extra blankets in your room
  • Do not leave lights, electrics or heaters on when you are out
  • Be on time for meals
  • Do not use the kitchen or help yourself to food unless you have agreed this with your host family
  • Keep your room tidy
  • Make your bed and change your bed linen yourself
  • Leave the bathroom clean and tidy after using it. If you have any queries regarding the use of the bathroom/toilet facilities, discuss these with the host family
  • Do not put pictures on the wall unless agreed with your host family
  • Observe the safety rules of the house. If there are any small children be extra vigilant about leaving any dangerous items (e.g. medicines) out of their reach
  • You should seek permission if you wish to have any visitors. It should not be a problem but it is good manners. You must not have any overnight visitors

Summary of host family’s role

The following services/facilities should be made available to you during your stay:

  •  Sufficiently spacious bedroom, adequately equipped and with natural light
  • Change of bed linen and towels each week and a good supply of blankets especially in the winter months
  • Adequate washing facilities and access to the bathroom as a member of the household including daily showers
  • Use of laundry facilities or clearly explained laundry service
  • Hanging and drawer space for clothes
  • 3 meals each day, ensuring a well balanced meal is offered
  • Adequate heating and lighting
  • Proper state of cleanliness and repair in the home