How To Be A Host – House Rules
When host families take in overseas student guests for homestays, they may find it beneficial to set some basic house rules to keep things clear and easy for them and their guests. These needn’t necessarily be house rules just for homestay students but really anyone that stays overnight. It’s important to find the balance between being restrictive and being firm (particularly with younger students, who may be experiencing the freedom of travel for the first time and will be looking for a taste of independence); but we believe that our suggestions find the right balance.
These are by no means a set list of rules or mandatory, but we always recommend that you include anything you need to for your family and home. Homestay guests are supplied with an overview of house rules in advance, so if anything didn’t suit them, they could simply choose not to stay with you. This will ensure that any student who smokes will not be placed with you if you have chosen not to accept smokers. There are a few things that HFS do not enforce but do recommend that hosts run by their students:
Curfew Times (particularly for younger guests)
If you have children in the house, or are just a fan of an early night, setting a curfew for your student guest to be at least in their room at a certain time is usually a good idea. If you’re able to include a desk space or television in the spare room that they’ll stay in, this accommodates them even better and allows your guest to entertain themselves and/or study even if they’re not choosing to go straight to sleep.
For older students, even if you’re not setting a ‘bed time’ as such, having a curfew in place to make sure they’re in the house and won’t disturb anyone coming in late is often a good idea. The same could also bed said for super early mornings showers or cooking at midnight.
No one wants an embarrassing bathroom moment where they’re burst in on, so we’d recommend making sure the locks on all of your doors work before your guest/s arrives! If there are any areas of the house that are off-limits or that you need to keep locked/behind a closed door, point these out and make them clear right at the beginning of their stay.
Where To Eat… And Where Not To
Some families only allow eating in the dining room or kitchen, and some everywhere. If you’d prefer your guests not to eat in their bedrooms or are a fan of a TV dinner, note this down so that there’s no misunderstandings later on. What’s more, if you have a pet in the house that potentially could accidentally eat anything people are, make clear early on what’s a no-go – for example, it’s unlikely that non-dog-owners would know that they’re highly allergic to raisins!
If you’re serving meals at set times and your guest is enjoying them with you, make sure they know where to be and when to eat.
Older students are more than capable of making a hot drink or rustling up a snack, so if there’s certain appliances in the kitchen (or anything else around the house for that matter) that you’d prefer not to be used, write these on your rules list. Appliance wise, if you’re able to provide a hairdryer or anything else basic required, note these down too – it’ll save your student guests packing them and flying across the world with them in their luggage!
Please note that overseas students may have different voltage limitations when using their own appliances or electrical equipment brought with them, so double check anything you’re worried about with them before they arrive. You can also get an idea of what to expect here.
If you’d like more advice on setting house rules for your student’s homestay, or would like more recommendations on how existing hosts enforce their rule lists, get in touch with the HFS London team and we’ll be glad to talk you through it!