Tips to Hosting an International Student - In the home

In the home


Food is often the biggest problem raised by both homestay families and students. Finding a balance between what the student wants and what the host is prepared to serve can sometimes seem almost impossible. Be sensitive to any special dietary requirements. Again, communication is the key to resolving this issue, as well as a little trial and error.

"Most of my students don’t cook… but I love my own kitchen so I personally prefer to do my own cooking. Even with lunches, I got into the habit quite early of giving them leftovers and they take that to university where they can heat it up in the microwaves. I find this more serviceable for the students as they often won’t eat sandwiches. Most don’t like bread, but eat toast, which is quite confusing at first!" Jan, homestay mother


Many international students have not been exposed to housework in the past, with many having mothers, grandmothers or even maids looking after them. It is important that whilst you acknowledge this, you also explain the Australian way of life. Discuss gender roles in Australia such as both men and women contributing to the housework and possibly also working outside the home. Explain the particular responsibilities of the students such as keeping their own room tidy, cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom and kitchen and doing their own laundry if necessary. For the first few weeks your student may need to be shown how to do some of these chores (eg washing dishes) in a way that meets your expectations. Other maintenance such as washing cars or cleaning the pool is not considered part of the student’s responsibilities.


Much of what we do and say is culturally specific. It is important to be aware that what you may think is normal may be quite unusual in places like Japan or China. Be patient with your students if they have difficulty understanding your habits, and try to explain the different way of life whenever possible.

Going away

If you need to be away from home for two or more days and are unable to take the student with you, please contact QUT Homestay Office to discuss the situation. You might like to consider the following options:

  1. Leave the student in your home to take care of themselves. Always discuss with your student whether they are comfortable to be left alone at home.
  2. Contact a family member or friend to look after the student.
  3. If none of the above is suitable, the Homestay Office may consider moving the student.

For under 18 students homestay host planing to go away (even for one night) needs to contact the Homestay office immediately. Under 18 students must never be left alone at home without supervision by an authorised adult. 

Other issues around the home

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