Your homestay experience should be fun and valuable for you and your host family. Here are the two most important things that you can do:
An important advantage of staying in a homestay is that you can – and have to! – keep using English when you’re not at Languages International. So you should talk to your host family as much as possible, about all sorts of things. The more you talk, the more quickly your English will improve. Also, talking to your host family will help everyone to feel more comfortable.
The other big advantage of staying in a homestay is that you have the opportunity to take part in the typical everyday life of a New Zealand family, and to see how it’s similar to and different from life in your country. So you should join in with normal family life whenever you can: eat meals with the family, do normal housework jobs like cleaning your own bedroom and helping to wash the dishes, go out with your family for a walk or to the supermarket.
Here are some points to remember when you’re living in homestay:
Food and meals
- If there are types of food you really like or do not like, tell your host family about them. Your family will of course try to give you food that you like, but remember that they will want you to have a mixed and healthy diet. Feel free to buy special foods that you prefer to eat.
- Please don’t bring alcoholic drinks into your homestay unless you have discussed it with your host family first.
- Breakfast: This is usually a light meal of cereal, fruit, toasted bread and juice, tea or coffee. Usually, these foods are available to you and you prepare them yourself.
- Lunch: You are responsible for buying your own lunch from Monday to Friday. In the weekend, your family will either prepare lunch for you or give you food to prepare for yourself.
- Dinner: This is usually a shared meal in the evening. Occasionally, you prepare your own meal with food supplied by your host, or you might even want to prepare some special food from your culture for your host family.
- Remember to contact your host family to tell them if you are not going to be at home for dinner or if you are going to be late so that they will not worry about you.
- Your host will give you towels to use but you should supply your own soap, shampoo etc.
- Please talk to your host family about when is the most convenient time in the morning or the evening for you to use the bathroom. Note that it is normal in New Zealand to have only one shower per day.
- Please do not take long showers as there may not be enough hot water for other family members. Showers should be for a maximum of 10 minutes.
- Remember to leave the bathroom tidy as you would in your own home.
Washing your clothes
- Talk to your host family about how and when to use the washing machine and the dryer. You should note that most New Zealand families like to dry their clothes outside on a washing line if the weather is fine.
- Please do not wash your clothes in the bathroom or dry them in your bedroom, cupboards or on heaters.
- New Zealand homes, and especially homes in Auckland, don’t usually have central heating. Host families usually heat their homes with portable or fixed electric heaters and often a fireplace.
- In the winter, your host family will probably give you a heater to use in your bedroom and there will probably be an electric blanket on your bed. Please don’t leave the heater and/or electric blanket switched on while you are asleep or out of the house.
- Ask your host family for more blankets if you’re not warm enough in bed.
- Internet usage is relatively expensive in New Zealand and most families have a monthly data limit. Please speak to your host family about the internet and respect their limit on how much you use it.
- Avoid activities that use a lot of data: streaming video, downloading large files, video-Skype calling etc.
- Respect New Zealand’s laws and don’t illegally download movies, music and books – especially not on your host family’s internet connection.
- Remember that you have free wireless internet access while you’re at school.
- New Zealand is aiming to be ‘smoke-free’ by 2025 and smoking is now more restricted in New Zealand than in many other countries.
- You will not be allowed to smoke inside your host family’s house.
- If you are a smoker, talk to your host family about where you can go to smoke outside their house. Or even better, use your time in New Zealand to take a break from smoking!
- It’s good to be able to invite your friends to your homestay, but as a guest in the home, you have to discuss this with your host family before you bring anyone else into the home.
Extending your homestay
- Discuss it with your host family. Note that they might not be able to continue to host you because of other guests arriving.
- Tell our Accommodation Co-ordinator that you want to extend – or have to change homestay.
- Pay your homestay fees at Reception two weeks before the start of the homestay extension.
Leaving or changing your homestay
- Talk to your host family and to our Accommodation Co-ordinator about your intention to leave or change your current homestay as early as possible.
- It takes us up to two weeks to find a new homestay for you.
- We can refund any unused accommodation fees from two weeks after you tell us that you want to leave your homestay.
- If you are no longer staying in one of Languages International’s homestays, you must tell us your new address. We have to keep this information about you by law.