Q. What is homestay?
A. Homestay is a cultural exchange between a local individual or family (called a host) and a visiting student. The student lives for an agreed period of time with the host. One purpose of the homestay can be to support the student's desire to improve his or her English-speaking skills and learn about American culture and lifestyles. It also offers an opportunity for the host family to learn about the student's culture. A homestay is the best way for students to become familiar with America; research shows that students who begin their visit with a homestay accommodation become immersed in the language and culture more easily and swiftly.
Q. How does homestay work?
A. The American Homestay Network (AHN-USA) will match each student with a host family located near the student's place of education. The host will provide the student with a private bedroom and an agreed-upon meal plan, and will assist them in learning the local customs and transportation systems, as well as generally helping the student become acquainted with the American lifestyle. Students are encouraged to share information about their home cultures and countries, as our hosts also wish to have a unique cultural experience.
Q. How is the AHN-USA program different from other homestay options?
A. AHN-USA hosts are carefully screened and selected to ensure that they are committed to providing a great experience to AHN-USA students. We are the only program that requires a national, criminal background check of all host family members over 18. Our homestay model has operated successfully for years in Australia; the American program replicates these effective procedures, processes, and systems so that we can fulfill the same high standards in America. Every service we offer is designed to ensure that students are safe, comfortable, and successful during their time in our program. You will be met at the aiport by our bonded, towncar drivers who will communicate directly with us and your new host to ensure you are safely transported to the host home when they are there to welcome you.
Q. How are hosts selected for your program?
A. The safety and well-being of each AHN-USA student is our top priority. AHN-USA uses a proprietary background check and in-home screening and interview processes to make sure that our hosts are able and willing to provide an environment that will create a comfortable, pleasant homestay experience. All hosts are required to take an online training course and successfully pass the exam. We offer additional content to assist hosts online in our Host Management System™, which includes further in-depth cultural orientation and ideas for supporting a great homestay.All AHN hosts must speak English in the home.
Q. How does AHN-USA ensure a successful homestay?
A. In addition to the rigorous screening process we administer to our hosts, AHN-USA provides the use of our Host Management System to provide online training for hosts, cultural-orientation materials for all participants, and a private system that promotes regular, confidential communication between AHN-USA management, students, and hosts. We have a professionally staffed 24/7 critical-incident hotline that hosts and students can use should an emergency arise. Again, student welfare is our top priority. We will attempt to resolve locally any issues or miscommunications that may arise, and generally, our host managers are able to seek a suitable resolution. If there is truly unresolvable issue than cannot be addressed, we will move a student one time to another homestay if we feel we've made a poor match.
Q. What does homestay cost?
A. AHN-USA provides several accomodations and meal options for students to choose from. In general, homestay is an economical choice for students and will include a private bedroom with a place to study, internet access, an agreed-upon meal plan, use of the AHN-USA website and services, 24/7 critical-incident support and includes an airport transfer. There is a one-time placement fee per student. You will receive details after you submit your application, but you can read more about our pricing here.
Q. How close will I live to my education provider?
A. AHN-USA uses a sophisticated technology that matches students according to their living preferences and educator location. We aim to enable students to travel via public transportation to their school within a reasonable time frame. We have two categories to choose from; a premium homestay is less than 30 minutes from your educational instituion and a standard location is approximately 35-45 minutes. The premium locations, when available, are slightly more expensive and are very popular. Your host will make sure that you are comfortable using the local public transportation system and the system needs to provide reasonable support for you to get back and forth to school and home.
Q. What does the application process involve? How do I apply?
A. Click here to access the student application. Once you complete the application, an email will be sent to your email address. The email will include an activation link to your AHN-USA account; just click and log in. You can now access your AHN-USA account anytime by going to the apppropriate log-in section on the AHN-USA homepage at www.homestaynetwork.com.
Q. What rules do I have to follow while I'm living with a homestay host?
A. Your host will review their house rules with you as they orient you to their home. You should make sure you understand and agree to these rules. If you have questions about any rules or other information your host provides, you can contact AHN-USA directly through your private account online.
Q. How long is a homestay?
A. The length of the homestay is completely up to the student. Our program minimum is 8 weeks, but the he initial placement is generally for four to eight weeks. Some students stay for as few as four weeks, while others may choose to live with a particular family throughout their educational stay in America. You will be required to pay for the initial four weeks in advance before commencing your homestay, and you are expected to provide two weeks' notice when you decide to leave your homestay situation. If you need shorter term accomodations, please contact us and we'll seek to find suitable arrangements.
Many of these questions have been answered in the FAQ section above, but as you complete your application you should be clear about your preferences and additional questions you may have, such as:
- How close to my educational institution does the host family live?
- What is the distance to the closest public transport pick up?
- How long is the total commute to my school?
- What are the household rules?
- May I have overnight guests?
- Am I expected to do any chores?
- Will I have a private phone line?
- Private T.V.?
- What is the latest that I may receive phone calls?
- Will I have a private bathroom?
- Are there other students in the household?
- Is there a curfew?
- Are there any pets in the house?
- Why does the host wish to house a student?
- What is the religious orientation of the household, and will the hosts have any expectations of my own religious activities?
- Does the household observe any dietary practices or restrictions? If meals are included in the monthly fee, and I do not like the food, may I get a rate adjustment and cook my own meals?
- Is smoking allowed in the house?
- Will someone meet me at the airport?