Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Students
How do I apply?
You simply need to fill out our online application form by clicking here.
Can I visit my host family before I move in to the homestay?
No, HSH does not allow or recommend students to visit the homestay prior to move in. Families can be as particular about their students as students are about their families, and pre-visits can introduce unnecessary misunderstandings and complications. If you have questions about your homestay prior to moving in, please feel free to contact us anytime. If you are unsure about anything regarding your initial assignment, please contact us so we may assist you.
When can I move into Homestay?
You can move into your Host Family home any time, any day of the week, but given the option, ideally try to book your arrival on a Saturday or Sunday between 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. If arriving mid-week, then the ideal time would be between 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Do I need to bring something for my Host Family?
A small gift from your country may be a good idea, ideally representative in some way of the country and culture you are coming from, however this is a gesture and by no means necessary or expected.
How do I get from the airport to my homestay?
Airport Transfers can be arranged upon request by HSH. In western Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) , your Host Family will normally be the party arranged to greet you at the airport and take you to their home. In eastern Canada (Ontario and Quebec) an HSH representative is usually arranged to greet you and deliver your to your homestay family. In either case, look for someone holding a sign with your name on it, once you enter the arrivals hall.
Will there be other students in my homestay who speak my language?
Host Families are typically limited to a maximum of 3 students, each of whom must speak a different language, unless otherwise specifically requested by the students.
Does homestay include internet?
You will be provided with a fully furnished private bedroom with reasonable access to the home’s amenities such as bathroom(s), laundry facilities, T.V. and VCR/DVD, as well as 1. 2. or 3 meals per day depending on the option you chose. Internet access is available free of charge in all homestays, but be aware this is limited to communications. Charges may apply for excessive downloading of music or video which exceeds the family’s data plan.
What happens if I don't like my host family?
HSH makes every effort to match you with a suitable Canadian Host Family. There is a normal transition period in the first few days however you are encouraged to discuss your issues in a respectful manner with your Host Family or Homestay Coordinator should a concern arise. Sometimes however, conflicts may arise. In unusual circumstances problems may persist that cannot be resolved, and it may be necessary to move you to a new Homestay. HSH will evaluate each situation on an individual basis and make homestay changes when and where appropriate, at no additional cost to you.
Are there any rules and regulations at my Host Family home?
When staying with a host family, you will become a member of the family, and all family members must follow reasonable household rules that apply to all. Guidelines and responsibilities are there to help you make your homestay experience an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Please take the time to read your student handbook to familiarize yourself with some of the more common household rules and guidelines.
What time can I arrive home at night?
As a mature adult student (19 yrs and older), you are free to return at whatever time suits you. However communication is rule #1 so always let your host family know what time you expect to be home so they don’t wait or worry unnecessarily. If arriving late, please respect that others may be already sleeping and make every effort to enter quietly without disturbing any one. Youth (under 19 years) are expected to be home every evening at a reasonable hour. Moreover, your homestay family will have prepared dinner for you and unless advised in advance, may wait for you to arrive before starting their own meal. Weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) return hours are a bit more flexible to allow for school organized programs, outings, parties, etc. but again, communication with your homestay family is an absolute necessity.
Can I bring friends home?
If on occasion you want to bring a friend home, ask your Host Family for permission in advance. You must respect their decision if they decline for any reason. Never bring strangers to the house.
Can I eat some meals away from the Host Family?
If you plan to eat out, please call your host family as a courtesy at least 2 hours in advance and let them know that you will eat out. You will not receive a homestay credit if you choose to eat meals outside the home.
Can I use the washroom anytime I want?
If you are sharing a bathroom with other members of the family, please find out when is the best time to have a shower and for how long. Do not take long showers or baths at it uses a lot of hot water and monopolizes the washroom. It is your responsibility to provide your own personal hygiene items such as shampoo, soap, body wash, toothpaste, mouthwash etc. Bathing is limited to once per day.
When can I make or receive phone calls?
Find out when you can receive calls and for how long you can keep the phone busy. If you make long distance calls from the host family’s home, you must use a calling card or make collect calls.
Does my Host Family provide maid service?
No. Your Host Family is not a maid service. You are responsible for keeping your room clean. You are expected to remove your plate and utensils from the table after meals. However, you are not required to do home chores such as baby sitting, gardening, house cleaning etc.
Can I keep the lights or TV on when I am outside of the room?
Electricity is expensive is Canada and most Host Families use energy conservation lighting and rules. Please don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off the TV or radio when you are not using them. Windows should be closed as a matter of security, above and beyond energy conservation.
How long can I stay in my homestay?
There is no limit to how long you can stay in the homestay, so long as you reserve your stay period in advance. Extensions after arrival cannot be guaranteed, since families may be booked already. In case you decide to extend after arrival and your homestay is already booked, a new family may be arranged you for a nominal fee. Note that while the homestay program has no stay limitation, you are obliged to respect the time conditions as detailed on your entry visa to Canada.
Please note that you are not permitted, under any circumstances, to deal directly with your host in regards to your extension. If you would like to extend, you must contact HSH directly.
Is there a minimum stay time?
There is no minimum stay, however stays of less than four weeks are more expensive on a pro-rated basis, and may not always be practical depending on how short the total stay.
Can I move to a different homestay if I am unhappy with my initial assignment?
HSH uses a very efficient matching system to find you the best possible host based on your application preferences and availability of our hosts at the time you apply. This said, If, for any reason you are unhappy with your initial homestay assignment, we ask that you contact the HSH office within the ten days of your arrival to request a change. If you are e-mailing us with a move request, please make sure to include the reason for moving.
Will my host provide me a spare key to the home?
Yes, your host will provide you with an extra key. You are required to return this key to your host on your move out day.
Can I smoke in my host family's house?
Smoking is not allowed inside the home AT ANY TIME. For those applicants who are smokers, you are allowed to only smoke outside of your homestay, at least 6 m from the house structure as per most city by-laws.
Can I have an overnight guest in my homestay or bring a family member?
No. HSH does not allow students to have overnight guests /family in their host’s home. Please check with your host for the appropriate hours your guests/family can visit you.
How far will my homestay be from my school?
Homestays are located in the surrounding area of the school. Depending on city, homestays are between 20 – 40 minutes average commute, to the downtown core. Public transit travel times may vary, but the maximum allowable commute for any of our destinations should not exceed 45 minutes.
Can I apply if I am not an international student, but have an internship?
Yes! We will be glad to arrange your homestay if you are attending an internship or even if you are from another part of Canada or even if you are just coming for a vacation.
Can I do my laundry in the homestay, and if so when?
All homestays provide laundry facilities free of any additional charge. Laundry is done once a week, either by your host family or yourself, depending on the homestay. Check with your family to confirm what day of the week is laundry day.
Can I pay my host for my homestay?
NO, please note that all payments for housing must be paid directly to HSH via wire transfer, e-transfer (within Canada), or direct deposit to account. Even discussing payments with your homestay is bad form, as it is considered impolite to bring up finances with a host you are supposed to be integrating with as family.
What types of homes are offered?
Homestays range from single family homes to condos and apartments in quiet residential areas. Homestays usually have at least two bedrooms, with one bedroom exclusively for the student. Most homestays include a yard, balcony and/or patio. Students’ rooms are fully furnished including bed, dresser, closet, desk, lamp, chair, closet and window. In most cases the bathroom is shared with either the rest of the family, or amongst the students.
Where are the homestays?
Host Families are located within a short travel distance from the downtown core. Public transportation is generally within 5 minutes walk from your home, and all homes are located along major bus routes. The average travel time by bus between homestays and downtown is about 30 minutes, although a maximum commute of up to 55 minutes may apply in some cases.
Who are our Homestay families?
Canada is a multicultural country comprised of people from all over the world. There is wide range of Canadian families, with different occupations, interests and ethnic backgrounds. Some Canadian families consist of a mother, father and children. Some of our other host families include single parents with young children, single persons, couples with no children, families with pets, and older, retired people who enjoy the company of international students. Whatever your family, rest assured they have been chosen according to HSH’s strictest standards including perfect fluency in the target language (English orFrench), and must be the caliber of family where we would choose to place our oww family or loved ones.
When should I apply for a homestay?
The sooner the better! – While we will always be able to find you a great family, more than two weeks advance notice allows HSH time to arrange the best possible homestay according to your specific preferences and needs, in as convenient a location as is possible with respect to your school or place of work.
When do I get information about my Host Family?
After we receive your Homestay Application Form and payment we will send you information about the Host Family we have selected for you. You will receive your Homestay information no later than 2 weeks prior to arrival, assuming we receive your completed Application Form and payment at least 4 weeks prior to arrival.
What happens if there is an emergency at home?
Dial 911 in emergency situations to reach an ambulance, police or fire department and advise your host family.
Do I need medical insurance?
You must obtain medical insurance that covers any medical expenses that may occur during your stay in Canada. If you need HSH to arrange your medical coverage for you, please indicate your request at time of homestay application. HSH Canada does not assume any responsibility for injuries suffered while in the host family’s care, or at any time during your stay in Canada.