Student's Frequently Asked Questions

Who will I live with?
"I want to live with an Australian native family. Must have mother, father and children. A private bathroom and no pets. Mother to stay home and look after the house and me."
You may not get a home like this. Many years ago this might have been the typical family however in today's Modern society the family structure may be very different.
The original inhabitants of Australia are the Aborigines and they have lived in Australia for thousands of years. Australia has welcomed over six million immigrants from many countries who have made Australia their home. Many of these people came from non English speaking Countries. Most Australian families will be migrants or children of migrants. Persons with an Australian Citizenship is considered and Australian.
Australian families are made up of many different types:
  • Couples without children
  • Same sex couples (male and female)
  • A divorced mother and children
  • A single man
  • A single female
  • An elderly couple
  • A married couple with children
Who will pick me up at the airport?
If you have booked airport pick up then the airport pick up service Officer will be waiting for you. Follow the instructions on your apu notice. The Officer will have your name displayed on a sign. DO NOT DISSAPPEAR WITH RELATIVES OR FRIENDS IF YOU HAVE BOOKED AIRPORT PICK UP SERVICE. The officer will be worried and will continue to look for you after everyone else on your flight has arrived. If your flight is late or delayed - DONT WORRY the officer will usually be advised of this and will wait for you.
What if I'm making my own way to the homestay?
If you have not organised airport pick up and are making your own way to the homestay. You should go directly there as your hosts may have taken the day off work to be at home to meet you. You will have your hosts telephone numbers so if you are going to be delayed you should call them to let them know when to expect you.
What will happen when I arrive at my homestay?
Your host and family members will be waiting to greet you. Greet your new family with a smile. When you smile at someone they will always smile back and this causes everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed. Don't be afraid to speak - your English is probably much better than you think!!! Your hosts will also try to speak clearly and slowly to you.
What should I call my host?
Most hosts are informal with titles and forms of address. You will be introduced to each member of the family and usually call everyone by their first name. A good idea is to repeat the name when you are introduced - this will help you to remember it but don't worry if you forget or if you call the host by a wrong name they will most likely laugh and remind you of their correct name.
What should I expect when I first arrive?
Your hosts will show your around the house and will point out many things to you which may leave you confused and overwhelmed at first. They will also discuss house rules with you. Most hosts should write these rules down for you so that you can keep a copy with you. If you find it difficult to understand or you cant understand the hosts English don't worry. The family will understand that you need time to adjust to your new environment. Ask about any rules you are not sure of during your stay. Good communication is the key to a good relationship in the homestay.
Should I bring a gift?
Your host family will not expect a gift from you when you arrive. However if you feel that you would like to make this gesture then try to give a small and inexpensive gift.
Can my relatives stay?
The first impression and first 24 hours is a very important time in the homestay. You will need time alone to get to know your host family. If family members have travelled with you and want to take you to your homestay then they should first have notified the homestay in advance to find out if it is convenient to accompany you there. They should not stay long or expect to look around the house without being invited in. Nor should they try to bargain about costs etc. Remember this is a private home.
If your parents or relative wish to stay in the homestay with you for the first week or two then this must be arranged in advance and your host must be agreeable. If relatives stay in the homestay then they are required to pay for their accommodation expenses.
How do I get to school?
You will need to get to school using public transport. Your host will accompany you to and from school for the first day. There will be some walking involved and usually a train or bus will be required. Sometimes you may need to take a bus and a train to school. It is very unusual to find a homestay where you can walk to school. You may need to travel between 30-40 minutes to school. Your first week may seem confusing however you will soon find yourself organised and enjoying your travel time to and from school.
What will I eat?
Homestay meals include breakfast and dinner on weekdays, and three meals on weekends. Breakfast and dinner is provided 7 days per week. You should try to experiment with new foods and tastes. Australia is such a multi cultural country that most hosts will cook foods from all over the world. Many hosts will cook Asian, Italian and Western style foods. Supermarkets have a very large International section where foods/sauces etc from a variety of countries can be purchased. You should inform your host if there is any food that you cannot eat for religious or health reasons.
Breakfast is usually toast, muffins or crumpets with vegemite, Jam or peanut butter. Coffee/tea or fruit juice. Cereal and milk. Some hosts will also have yoghurt. A fried breakfast is NOT usually taken on a weekday however your host may cook this on the weekend. Family members usually prepare their own breakfast as they will all have different timetables in the morning and will leave the house a different times. The morning can be a very busy time in the home. Your host will show you where all the breakfast foods are and you can help yourself. You should put all the breakfast ingredients away if you are the last person to use these.
Lunch is only provided on the weekend and this will be a light meal such as sandwiches.
Dinner is usually eaten between 6 and 8pm. Most families will sit down together and eat dinner. Most meals will consist of the main meal with some families also offering dessert. Some hosts will also have a glass of wine or beer with their meal.
It is good manners to eat with your mouth closed and to eat quietly. Noisy eating or slurping, sipping your food is impolite. Meals are served differently in all homes. Some homes will place all foods on the table where you are then asked to help yourself. Other hosts will serve your food on a plate for you. There is no particular order in how you will be served. All family members are treated the same. Australians love to talk at mealtimes. This is a special time when all the family get together each day. This is a good time for you to join in and ask questions and talk about your day. You will improve your English and your hosts will be delighted in your efforts to communicate with the family. You should say "thankyou" when you are served food or drink. If you want more food "could I have more rice please". If there is a food that you particularly like then it is good manners to let the host know. "that tastes delicious"
If you need to leave the table before other members have finished then you should excuse yourself. "Excuse me I have to go out now" Or "Excuse me I need to study" Most homes will have a roster for family members to take turns in helping with meal tasks. Such as setting the table or washing and drying dishes. Make sure that you have done your chores before you leave the kitchen.
If you will not be home for dinner it is considered good manners also to notify your host in advance so that they will not go to the effort to prepare a meal that you won't eat. You should also ask your host well in advance if you want to bring a friend home for dinner or home to visit.
Can I help myself to food?
Some hosts will encourage you to help yourself to food when you feel hungry. Some hosts will even have a special cupboard for students filled with their favourite foods to have in between meal times. If you are unsure of what you can eat then ask your host or wait to be offered.