We’ve hosted foreign students for a few years now in both Baylyn House but also our old house before we had children. I remember searching the internet trying to find honest reviews & answers from hosts that had experienced the realities of letting strangers into their home & family, but not got very far, so I’m going to tell you my experience, warts & all.
The usual period to host students is June-September & depending on the size of your room you can usually get 2 in each. Some schools are open year round but out of peak season the rate does reduce.
- Money – quite obviously the number 1 reason why people chose to host foreign students is the money side of things. You can be paid anything from £90-£200 per student per week depending on if it’s a single or shared room as well as if you’re providing all the meals or just half board. During 2016 we earn’t just under £5k which is also tax free up to £7.5k under the rent a room scheme. This extra money paid for us to go on a family holiday as well as some home improvements & popping some money in savings in case of an emergency like a boiler breakdown!
- Experiencing a different culture – we love the fact that our children get to experience people from a different culture along with how they live.
- Learn a new language – now you should obviously speak to your students in English as thats why they’ve come over to the UK for obviously but you do get to learn a bit of their lingo. My two children are obviously a bit too young at the moment but in a couple of years I’m sure they’ll take pride in being top of french/german/whatever students we’ve had! Elsa learnt a few words last year including ‘Bonjour’ & ‘Merci’.
- Meet new people – we’ve been blessed with a few really really lovely students, a few of which follow me on Insta so will probably be reading this (hello Stella & Clara!). We’ve loved having them for the couple of weeks they’ve been part of our family for & I like to think that they thought the same. So many of them absolutely love the kids & really get involved which is when you realise that children are children no matter what the language barrier – they all love a spot of hide & seek!
- Sharing your home with strangers – this is obviously quite annoying, especially after not having a break for 6 weeks straight of not being able to do the things you would do if it was just your immediate family in the house. I’m not saying we make a habit of walking around the house naked that often but you get the drift. I think I find this trickier than the
- Safety aspect – letting somebody that you don’t know into your home can be a potential safety hazard. You have no idea if they are a goodie or a baddie. We’ve never had a problem with any of the students we’ve had stealing from us or breaking/ruining anything particularly of value however I have heard several horror stories so maybe best to keep your expensive jewellery locked up or the bedroom door closed if you aren’t at home. We also only host female students, purely because our children are both still really young & we felt it was safer for them, although I’ve heard boys are much more laid back & easy going than girls who want it all.
- Horrible students – we’ve unfortunately experienced a fair amount of horrible students. Probably more idiots than we have had nice students which is a shame but I suppose it’s hard dealing with 13/14/15/16 year olds at the best of times! I will say though, you remember the nice ones far more than you remember the not so nice ones when it comes down to it. It’s natural to meet people that you don’t always get on with, but it becomes a whole new ball game when you then have to share your home with them. We also had an experience last year where a girl wanted to be moved to be with her best friend who was with another host family, in the end it literally caused so much stress as well as her complaining that our house was dirty, which anybody that follows me on Instagram will know it most definitely isn’t!
- The language barrier – this can be incredibly tricky, especially if you need to explain something important. I’ve had cases where I’ve gone through various things such as where they can find breakfasts, to help themselves & so on to which they’ve nodded politely then had a call from the school to say that I hadn’t given them anything for breakfast or they weren’t allowed to get a drink & were thirsty.
- Being responsible – it adds on a whole new level of responsibility considering you’ve got to care for 4 teenage girls/boys 7 days a week. I can barely look after myself & my two kids let alone a group of hormonal homesick teenagers! A lot of them have curfews depending on their age & I do find they are out quite a lot with activities.
- Sometimes they are SO culturally different – we as Brits are definitely one of the most polite & prude of all nationalities & it definitely shows when hosting students. We normally have German students who can sometimes come across as quite rude, but you just have to remind yourself that they are just different & it’s completely normal for them at home. I’ve also hosted several Chinese/Japanese previously who refuse to eat most things, only bring 1 set of underwear (which they then wash in the sink & leave to dry..) & are generally quite strange.
- Being tied – every single day you need to make sure you’re at home to let them in (I normally give them a front door key between them but I’ve had a couple of situations where this has then got lost…) & to cook for them as well as cleaning. You’re expected to clean their room, wash bedding as well as their clothes once a week too. Considering it’s during the summer holidays when people tend to be busier & social calendars bursting, this can be quite tricky. Also you then can’t go away on holiday until after the seasons over!
- Extra workload – as well as providing meals (we always do full board so breakfast, lunch & dinner), you also have to clean their room once a week as well as strip bedding & do a load of laundry each. This can be a bit of a pain if you’re already busy however for the amount of money you make from doing it, it’s worth feeling like a personal maid/slave for a while.
You can see above that I’ve thought of far more negatives than I have positives, BUT that doesn’t mean that we won’t be doing it again. In fact, quite the opposite as we’ve already booked in for 4 students at a time with our local language schools for Summer 2017.
Would you consider hosting or have you? I’d love to hear your experiences & tips so leave them in a comment below.