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Homestay in Australia as the name says, this style of accommodation is to stay in an Australian family home with a room only for you and with food included. In reality, the family is renting a room in their home to you, and this room may have a bathroom, a study desk and a wardrobe for you to keep your belongings. The bad news is that you will have to follow the rules of the house, and the good news is that is very cheap. Also, you can choose a house with characteristics similar to your way of life. Of Course, if you don't like the house of the family for any reason, you can ask the homestay administrator to find another one for you.  But, the money has to be paid in advance for a period of about one month and if you decide to go away, this money is not refundable. Sometimes it is done partially, depending how much time of previous advice you gave to the family. Also note, that this family will only host you, not be responsible for you and your actions.

The minimum time staying in an Australian homestay is 15 days. That means you pay in advance 2 weeks, and if you decide to jump out after the first week, you also will say bye to your money. In the same way, if you decide to extend your stay for another two weeks or 3 months, you will have to pay this time in advance. It is possible to arrange to pay your homestay family privately. If you do this, you can probably expect a reduction in the amount of rent you pay, as opposed to paying through your School/College. Make sure you have an agreement in place with the family - if possible, in writing. Many families will reduce the rent while you are traveling around Australia if you leave your belongings behind, or if you intend to return to the family after travel. It is called a holding fee.

Who normally  books a home stay in Australia? The educational institutions or schools that offers courses for overseas students  do it through an agent. Some independent agents have different lists of homes and families. They always try to find a home stay for you around the place you are studying. Both, institutions and agents, charge a fee called a placement fee that can vary between A$ 110 and A$ 220.( usually the same as one week of stay). The initial payment is made to the school or to the agent, and thereafter directly to the family. There are some families that will negotiate the stay without meals included for you, especially if you start to hate it. On the other hand, to eat out costs a lot more.

  Staying in a family home - Things to know....

  • Australian families are like families all over the world, and differ one from another in many ways. Australia is a multicultural country with immigrants from every country in the world, mainly from Asia and Europe. Religious freedom complements the cultural way of life, and cannot be imposed or recriminated.

  • Australians live in isolated familiar nucleus which means father, mother, son and daughter, instead of with grand parents, aunts and cousins all together. The family maintains casual contact with other member of the family. Recently the number of divorced parents, solo mothers, and families without children has increased.

  • Families in Australia don't have house keepers to take care of the home or help in the house work. Normally both parents work somewhere outside home. So, it is expected from all members of the family including students, to cooperate in the everyday routines of cooking, cleaning, wash dishes, wash clothes, ironing, and keeping  the room nice and tidy. In the majority of families, the son and daughter prepare the breakfast and also a lunch to be eaten around noon. The father or the mother prepare the dinner.

  • The food offered in a home stay in Australia depends on the cultural background of the family For example: Families with European background will serve mainly European style food, and Asian families, Asian food. But due to globalization, and the multiculturalism in Australia, don't be surprised to eat European food in an Asian home, and Asian food in an European home. In Australia there are culinary influences from the majority of countries in the world. Another thing are the habits of each culture. While Italian love to talk and gesticulate during dinner time, European prefers to eat in silence. Australian families sit to eat in group, and talk about the day and any problems they had or have to solve. The breakfast is constituted of cereal, toast, fruit and a fruit juice. Lunch usually is a sandwich , a cake, or the beloved Australian meat pie.

  • The Australian usually show theirs emotions openly, and are not afraid to show their anger, happiness, or sadness in front of others. Also they accept to disagree on points of view, as long as it is done in a non-aggressive way. In some cases it is acceptable to discuss personal problems with other people, but usually it stays within the family circle. The Australian parents encourage their children to ask please, respond thank you, and say sorry.

  • An Australia home has a kitchen with no walls to the living area. There are bathrooms, bedrooms and a laundry. The bathroom may have a bathtub and shower separated and the toilet sometimes is in another room. Usually Australians don't like it when someone has a shower and leaves the bathroom wet, OR, take an eternity showering, finishing off all the hot water from the boiler.

  • Australians teenagers are very independent, but anyway the parents like to be kept informed where they are going, with who, and what time they pretend to come back. It is extremely important for someone who is hosted in a family home to do the same. Also it is polite to tell the family at least one day before, if you are not coming for dinner. One of the main activities of young adults is to talk on the phone, and the parents usually impose some restrictions of time to allow everybody to do the same. Local calls in Australia are charge at a rate of around 25 cents per call. It is expected that you pay for each call, and some homes place a small pot beside the phone for you to leave the money, OR you can negotiate another form of payment. You can bring friends over to visit you, but first get  permission to do so, and keep the parents informed for how long they will stay. Ahh!, Don't forget to introduce your friend to the house owners.

  • Many who come for the first time to a home stay in Australia feel a little bit nervous for the first couple of days. The best thing to do is to talk about yourself, so that the family will know you better and vice-versa. If your English isn't good enough to explain, use a dictionary, mimics, or call someone to translate. (your school may be able to help with this).

  • If you pass most of your time locked in your room they may think you don't like them. Try to spend some time watching TV together, talking, or helping out the family with some domestic tasks. Tell them about your culture and ask questions about theirs.

Advantages of staying in a family homestay:

  • Faster learning about the culture

  • Make Australian friends

  • Get all information about the city you are living

  • Improve your English (This is total immersion!)

  • Spread your culture and adjust to a new country more quickly

  • Low Cost

Disadvantages to stay in a family homestay:

  • Relative freedom

  • Relative privacy


Mary Help never makes up her bed on a homestay

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