4. Things to be aware of
For many students this may be their first time away from home. Their backgrounds will vary and they will have very different ideas about home-life. Differences in culture can give rise to misunderstandings for homestay providers as well as their students. Social skills such as using “please” and “thank you” may seem like common politeness but different cultures express social skills in very different ways. In many cultures requests are expressed much more directly than British people are accustomed to. Similarly, a student may have difficulty coping if their English is very elementary; they may also interpret certain British traits (such as a reluctance to speak to strangers) as unfriendliness. These feelings of alienation can be caused by relatively ‘minor’ things such as unfamiliar food; differences in routine; differences in travel arrangements and unfamiliar official procedures. They can be exacerbated by the deeper cultural differences in family life or language. The best way to deal with these issues is to anticipate them, and where necessary to address them in an atmosphere of mutual understanding. Over time, misunderstandings will fade away.
Students may well be suffering from feelings of mild alienation or even culture shock. Providing a friendly and secure ‘base’ is a vital part of helping them overcome these feelings. Culture shock is similar to the feelings we have when we are adapting to a new job or other environment, only more so. Your students may be initially excited and positive about their new culture. But as the reality of deeper cultural differences sinks in, this excitement can wear off. Students may then start to miss friends, family and places as they begin to have doubts about themselves and their new environment. Culture shock may manifest itself in a wide range of behaviour, including confusion, withdrawal, tiredness and anxiety. Providing a comfortable and welcoming home will go a long way to overcoming such culture shock. The vast majority of students settle into their new life until the final phase occurs, which is often a feeling of sadness and loss as they approach the end of their time in the UK. If you have a homesick student, alert the college and ask us for support. Also ask your student to talk to you about home and get them to show you photographs of their family.
Conversation is a very important part of the student’s learning process. Spending time each day in conversation with your student is a valuable way of helping them improve their English and learn about the British way of life. It will be very valuable if you show an interest in their country, family, progress at college and even help out with their homework. It’s essential that as a host you help and encourage them to communicate in English. Patience and understanding will be appreciated, as students are often at low levels of English when they first arrive. When talking with your student, try to speak slowly, simply and clearly. Most students like watching some television. It provides entertainment and improves their English. The student may expect to be able to watch television with you.
Religious practices and beliefs
For many of our students, their religion is not merely a code of conduct, it dictates their way of life. Of course, students’ beliefs should be respected and received with an open mind. Religion can also provide security for some in an unfamiliar environment. The college provides a prayer room and can help students to contact local community groups if they wish to practise their religion.
International students may find attitudes to men, women and relationships very different from what they are used to at home. Some may not be accustomed to public displays of affection between couples or even a friendly hug or kiss. Others may regard British people as unusually reserved and lacking in warmth. Men from some cultures may have problems accepting authority from females as it is highly unusual in their own country. Women may feel uncomfortable complaining about something as they are afraid that it may be taken as an insult. The key to overcoming all of this is, as before, to maintain an open mind, a mutually respectful stance and a determination to communicate. If you can bring this to your role as a host, you should have no problems.
Some students may give you a small gift, which it is fine to accept. It’s not uncommon for hosts to give their student a small gift or card on their birthday but this is not a requirement.
Mandatory licensing of a house as being ‘in multiple occupancy’ may apply if the property is two or more storeys and occupied by four or more persons. Further details can be found on the government website https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/houses-in-multiple-occupation.
Mail & luggage
Hosts may not hold or destroy a student’s mail. It should be forwarded or returned to the Post Office marked “No longer at this address”. If any student leaves mail or luggage, please inform Kings immediately.
Back to top