I've been a host family for 13 years for Columbia College. My family was privileged to meet students from different countries and we have enjoyed hosting all of them. We have shared our everyday life with them and have taught them the Canadian way of living; they try the food we eat, we take them to our favourite places and we encourage them when they missed their family back home.
There are a lot of things involved in hosting students from different countries. As a host family, we provide three meals a day, a comfortable room for our students and made them feel at home. We also get our students involved with our everyday life and take them to touristic places as if they were a relative who was in town. We help students adjust to their new settings as most of them come to Canada for the first time. It's always an adjustment to our family when new students arrive but everything becomes normal after a few days. We enjoy taking students out on weekends. We also take them to my son’s hockey game and they enjoye watching hockey as it is Canada’s popular sport. Students clap and scream as if they're cheering for their younger brother when he scores a goal. I like taking students everywhere we go and we enjoyed their company.
Living with a host family is very rewarding and important especially for students who are under 19 years of age. Most of them cannot live by themselves yet. Having a family to care for them, gives their parents a sense of security. As they're also new in Canada it is important to know the basics of the Canadian lifestyle. As a host mother, I always take good care of my students, I talk to them after school during dinner time, we share stories of our families, our country and culture, it's how we bond together. After a few weeks, students are more confident in speaking and understanding English.
For those students who are over 19 years of age, there are also a lot of benefits living in homestay. First, they don't have to worry about cooking their meals, especially if they have four or five subjects to study for. Going grocery shopping and cooking is a big job and it takes time and it cost a lot of money. When students have a lot of academic work, they cannot cook healthy meals, instead, they choose to purchase ready-to-eat meals that are more expensive and full of carbs and sugar. Good nutrition is very important, it's how the brain works best, there is nothing better than home cooked meals to stay healthy
Another benefit of living in Homestay is that students don't have to look for roommates or sign up a one year apartment lease agreement. Looking for the right roommate takes sometimes a long time, just to find out later that he or she will be leaving in few months and that the student who signed the contract is responsible to pay the full amount and has to go through the process again to find the right roommate. It is more economical to live in homestay and at times when students get sick and perhaps hospitalized a host family is always there to help them and make sure they are taken care of.
I love being a host family as it is very rewarding. I helped a lot of students and I made a lot of friends. I am truly happy when I know I made a difference in a student’s life. I have one student who is a Commercial pilot now and she has a family of her own now in Mexico. To this day, we keep in touch and the birth of her daughter made us feel like another member of our family was born. It makes me happy that we have extended family worldwide and that we're not only a host family to our students but one family who made a big difference in their lives.
By Nareza Soucy