Taking in an Overseas Student

There are many schools across Australia that that sponsor overseas students to come to Australia to learn the language and culture. International schools often focus on teaching overseas students English but there are plenty of different programs available. Many students will use this opportunity to travel to Australia, study, work and live with an Australian family during their visit as a way to immerse themselves in the culture. Many schools will be on the lookout for families with a spare guest room that are willing to cater to a student for the duration of the course (usually no longer than six months).

Taking in an Overseas StudentWhat is Expected of You?

There are plenty of pluses to taking in an overseas student for a few weeks or months. First of all, you will be offered payment for renting out your spare room. While every system is different, most students will pay around $100 to $200 per week for room rental.  This amount usually includes a bed, linen, a desk and internet access as well as one meal per day. For example, you may be required to set an extra plate at the dinner table each night and prepare a little extra so they can participate in your daily meal routine.
What you are required to do will depend on the situation. However, in most instances you won’t have to worry about giving your student a ride to and from school or work; they will be responsible for taking public transportation or acquiring a bike to ride to wherever they need to go. You are usually only required to prepare one meal per day while they will need to do the rest of their own shopping but this will also vary. In some instances you may be offered more per week but will be required to provide all meals on top of accommodation, or it may be on an entirely voluntary basis. Some families “swap” children, where their own teenager is experiencing an exchange in another country and each family provides care for the others teenager.

New Home, New Opportunities

Another benefit to opening your home to an international student is that you will be exposing your children to a new culture. The experience of having someone outside of the family stay with you can be a very positive one if you are both willing. Your children will be able to learn about another culture and hopefully your student will enjoy being part of your family and experiencing the Australian way of life. Ask them if they want to participate in your family activities, from going to the shops to spending the day at the zoo on weekends. They may be more than happy to tag along or they may prefer to explore on their own.
It may be hard to bridge the communication gap at first and speaking in broken English may be a little awkward but over time you will get used to it.  Even if your student doesn’t seem interested in being part of the family, continue to offer them invitations and speak to them. It may take them some time to feel comfortable answering your questions and getting out of their comfort zone. Leave your inhibitions at the door and try something different and hopefully your student will be more than happy to do the same.

Jenna Galley lives in Cairns, Queensland with her husband, two small children, Jacob and Jade, and dog Koah. She is a freelance writer and small business owner as well as an avid reader and wine drinker.

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