What is it like living in homestay accommodation?

Posted 12 July 2016
A Bellerbys student playing games with her homestay family

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Find out what it's like to live in homestay accommodation in the UK.

When you are looking to study in the UK, one of the most important decisions you have to make, even before you board the plane, is to choose your accommodation. You’ll find yourself asking a lot of questions, trying to make the right decision. Staying in homestay accommodation abroad is a popular option for international students, but you should be aware of the downsides along with the perks of living with at homestay accommodation to make sure that you are satisfied with your choice. Below are the pros and cons of living in a homestay:

The pros (advantages) of living in homestay accommodation

1. You can perfect your language skills

While you are studying in the UK, living in a homestay is the best way for you to truly master English. You are immersed in English 24/7; you cannot easily start communicating in your first language. Your hosts will also be the best English teachers you can get. While the English you learn at school is sufficient for your academic needs, it may not be suitable for daily conversational situations. I have lost count of all the times I feel confused or frustrated by simple but slang-laden daily conversations. From your homestay, you will learn all the idioms and slang that appear in everyday conversations but never show up in your text books.

2. You can immerse yourself in local culture

There is no better way to experience the ‘British way of life’ than involving yourself in it as much as possible. By living like a local, you completely soak up the culture that is so famous all around the world without even stepping out of the house.

3. You don’t have to worry about house chores

It is tiring to have to worry about doing the washing up after a busy day at school. If you live on your own, you may find yourself skipping meals and subsisting on instant noodles during exam periods, because you cannot afford to spare an hour to go grocery shopping. You may not even have time to wash the bedding as often as your mother would prefer. That’s why living in a homestay is an attractive choice for parents, who want their children to be fed piping hot food and to sleep on fresh clean linens.

4. It is more economical

Living in the UK in a homestay usually is cheaper than staying in the college residence. You may spend a bit more on transportation, but with hot proper meals ready and rooms that are possibly bigger than most standard residential dorm rooms, it is better value for money.

5. You have a family away from home

When you study in the UK, you don’t just move from one place to another; you move from one lifestyle to another, usually a totally different lifestyle. When you study abroad, you no longer live with your parents, who look after you with love and care. You speak your mother tongue no more; you can’t find the ingredients to cook your comfort hot pot and you are irritated by the two separate taps in the sink. In times like these, you will crave for support. The host will be available for you (together with a few other students if any) whenever you need some help.

You can find out more about what it is like living in homestay accommodation in the UK 

The cons (disadvantages) of living in homestay accommodation

1. You could be far away from the city centre

Many host families live in residential areas which can be further away from the city centre than residential accommodation. When I was in my homestay, it took me 45 minutes by bus to get to the city centre, plus another 15 minutes to walk to get to college. If you want to roll out of bed five minutes before school starts and still be able to make it on time, staying in a homestay may not be for you.

2. You may have less privacy

You will certainly have your own room (unless you choose to share). But you will have to share the rest of the house (including bathroom, kitchens, etc.) with your host.

3. You have to follow house rules

If your host sits down and has dinner at 6pm, you may be expected to do so as well. Your host may have a set of house rules totally different from what you are familiar with. It will be difficult to part from the house rules with which you grew up, but you have to be prepared for it if you choose to live in a homestay. Additionally, if you are under 18 expect strict curfews. After all, your host is contractually obliged to ensure your safety.

4. The food

Britain is famous for everything but great cuisine and some of us may find British food bland and containing more potatoes than necessary. Hence, the home-cooked food in your homestay may take some getting used to. If you have any dietary requirements (for example if you are lactose-intolerant) make your homestay aware and they will do their best to prepare suitable meals for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask for something, most host families are very approachable.

5. You have less interaction with your friends

If you want to invite your friends over, you will have to ask your host parents for permission. It can also be challenging to visit your friends after school if they live on the other side of town.

Written by Autumn Hoang

Bellerbys Homestay Accommodation

At Bellerbys College, you have the option to live in a homestay if you so choose. All Bellerbys’ homestay accommodation is carefully chosen for their friendliness and security. The host families will always welcome you with open arms and provide you with everything you need.

Bellerbys College also offers Homestay Plus for students under 16. Homestay Plus offers a greater level of support and supervision to guarantee the safety and comfort of younger students.