Editorial feature for printed publication
The World On Your Doorstep
As you will know, if you have lived on the South Coast for any length of time, language schools are a huge business here, and this part of the UK is seen as a great alternative to London for those who do not wish to stay in a large bustling city, but still want the vibrancy of life that we have to offer here. More than that, this is seen as one of the friendliest parts of the UK, and its people as among the warmest and most accepting of different peoples and cultures. Those people who host students in their homes are a very important part of this.
Often, hosts are the first British people that students meet and have a proper conversation with, and having a warm, friendly home and a good first impression of our country is vitally important in helping students to settle in to what could be, to them, a very strange and different environment.
If you have a spare room in your house, and an extra room for a friendly face at your dinner table, hosting an international student is not just a good way to make some extra money, it’s a great way for you and your family to learn about other people’s and cultures, and make friends that can last a lifetime. There are a lot of advantages to acting as a host, both economic and personal.
Of course, as a “paying guest”, your student will expect certain things from you too, though most of these would apply to anyone you have staying in your house. Having a clean, safe environment, and being included in family meals are the more obvious ones, and usually schools will have very clear and easy guidelines about taking care of your students, and, where possible, will do their best to match the student to the host family. In return, students are expected to abide by your house rules and fit in with your family’s schedule. While you will be their first friends in Britain, students soon meet like-minded classmates and schools also arrange a variety of social activities, and tours around the UK at weekends, so its not down to you to fill their spare time, though, of course, a little extra help while they find their feet is always appreciated.
Aside from your care, schools will also provide a structured support service, and 24 hour emergency phones in case of problems, and experienced staff are always on hand to help with any concerns.
Accommodation Officers have to be a friendly and approachable bunch, so if hosting is something of interest to you, or you just want to have a chat and find out more, why not contact one of the many schools that have taken out adverts here, or look online for your nearest college? The number of students can vary across the year, but generally schools are always interested in recruiting new, good quality hosts.
Students and their host families can remain friends for years to come, and its not unusual to stay in regular touch with your new international friends. If you or your family go travelling yourselves, you might find you have friends in a dozen cities around the world already!
Last year, when I wrote for ABC magazine, I talked about how much of a positive experience this can be for hosts, but it is worth thinking about how this can benefit the whole family too. If you are reading ABC, then it is likely because you have children at school in the area, and acting as a host could be a big part of their education too. As parents, we all want our children to grow up as well-rounded and educated individuals, with everything they need to make their way in the world, and meeting new people and experiencing new cultures can be a huge part of that. Forming bonds with people who have different perspectives on life, and learning something about how life is in another country can have a big impact on a child’s development, and expand their horizons enormously.
Of course, most of us would love to have the time and money to simply set-off travelling, but that’s simply not possible with family commitments in our busy lives. However, hosting students could give you another option – why not bring the world to you instead?