By Gemma Nardone
Lexis English Homestay Hosts typically live within direct commute of the college and provide our students with paid accommodation and some meals.
“Being a Homestay Host for Lexis English has been
a fantastic experience which I highly recommend to others!”
– BELINDA EADY
As an immersive cultural experience, the Homestay experience gives international students an authentic understanding of Australian family life. Students benefit from local knowledge, helping them to feel comfortable and at home while they study. Furthermore, our students can accelerate their learning through daily interaction with native speakers of the English language.
At Lexis English in Sydney, we are well aware how popular Homestay is with our students – demand for Homestays often outstrips supply. But, what’s the experience like for our hosts and their families? We invited one of Lexis Sydney’s most popular hosts, Belinda Eady, to share her tips and insights. This is what Belinda wrote:
About my family and I
My family and I live in beautiful Balgowlah, just 2.5kms from Lexis Sydney on Manly Beach. We are a family of two cats, two rabbits and two blokes (Rory aged 19, and Jasper aged 22).
Lexis has done brilliantly so far, matching us with three animal-loving, semi-vegetarian girls! We have been delighted to host Wilma from Switzerland, Kyo from Japan and Emma from Germany. Our household is always busy and quite noisy with Jasper being a drummer, bad mannered cats and me managing my own Personal Training business.
My Homestay hosting history
We began hosting Homestay students when Australia’s borders opened after COVID lockdowns (around July 2022). I had been renting out a room privately and always thought that it would be fun to experience different cultures and perspectives in the house and to open my boys’ eyes to the prospect of future travel.
Hosting began as quite a financial decision, but we are so enjoying the experience – the only down-side is saying goodbye when the students leave. They really do become part of the family!
Challenges and opportunities
We were originally slightly concerned about how the language barriers would work on a practical level, but Google translate has smoothed out any issues.
I also worried about food. Our family is semi-vegetarian, but 2 of the 3 girls who have stayed with us have been fully vegetarian, so it has been relatively easy to modify our meals to accommodate.
The only challenge is if I want to be out for a meal and must plan ahead to ensure there is dinner for everyone. I keep a fresh pasta and sauce in the fridge plus an emergency freezer meal – just in case.
For breakfast, the girls have preferred a simple fruit, toast and avocado meal so I leave it on the kitchen bench for them to help themselves.
For weekend lunches, I put out the toasted sandwich maker, fill the fridge with falafels, cheese and salad, and put muesli bars and fruit out so that the students can help themselves.
As I work either early mornings or split shifts, I find I can easily fit in a load of washing, cleaning or food prep during the day, when I drop home.
One other small issue is alcohol. We occasionally like to have a beer or glass of wine with dinner. One of the students was 17 when she first arrived, and I felt awkward offering alcohol. I have now printed a welcome handout stating that I am happy for anyone to drink anything but won’t supply, so please can they BYO.
Finally, we will always be concerned about the prospect of COVID in the home – I have RAT tests available and request everyone to stay out of the kitchen and masked if feeling unwell.
Long stay student logistics
We are lucky that our house is well set up, with an upstairs and downstairs arrangement so that everyone can be as independent as they wish.
Beautiful cultural differences
Food of course is the main difference! Our family has officially added cheese fondue and Okonimyaki to our list of favourite dishes. We have also established a Sunday night soup and cheese balls, where everyone is welcome – including those who have moved out. I love these evenings!
We try to give thanks for the meal in every language. Different table manners are also accommodated, without comment! Hopefully ours are ignored…
Music is a great way of including everyone, so I always invite everyone to choose a song or two for the dinner playlist. We enjoy music with every meal – usually with some singing (and sometimes some embarrassing dancing – mostly me).My top 3 tips for Lexis English Homestay Hosts
- Homestay income is a viable way to boost income.
- Meal plans help to control costs, and ensure a balanced diet.
- Providing students with a Welcome Letter manages expectations for all concerned. Some of our requests include:
- please keep shower time to a reasonable period.
- please take out your rubbish the night before collection.
- please put your washing in the tub provided.
- please provide your own alcohol.
- please turn off the lights if late home.
- please let me know if not coming home for dinner.
- please let me know if you are unwell and RAT test asap.
- I will change bed sheets once per week.
- I will clean the student bathroom twice per week.
- MEALS: Dinners & Breakfast Mon-Fri. On weekends, only lunch is provided.
My final words about hosting international students
Being a Homestay Host for Lexis English has been a fantastic experience which I highly recommend to others!
How to become a Lexis English Homestay Host
To be approved as a Lexis English Homestay Host, the college requires:
- Each student to have a clean room to themself.
- Preference is given to homes that are on a direct bus route to the college – no more than a 50 minute commute.
- Hosts must provide breakfast and an evening meal Mon-Fri. On weekends – only a packed lunch is required.
- Hosts who provide accommodation to students under the age of 18 must have a current Working With Children Permit. Permits for Lexis Sydney can be applied for here.
About Lexis Sydney on Manly Beach
The college offers group classes and private tuition.
Our international students come mostly from South America, all parts of continental Europe, as well as South East Asia. Most of our students are aged 18 years and older, and at certain times of the year Lexis English offers a juniors program for youth aged 12-17. You can find out more about that here.
The college is open 13 hours a day Monday – Friday, with morning, afternoon and evening classes. The average class size is 12-15 and the college can accommodate approximately 438 students. Lexis Sydney is open year-round (except for public holidays and the standard Christmas closedown).