Create a home away from home for international students

Create a home away from home for international students
Kaylah Joelle Baker

There is no denying international students contribute and add to the vibrancy of Melbourne, but unfortunately without locals opening their doors it can make a student’s life a lot harder.

Putting in place a homestay program, Monash College in Docklands is asking for locals in the area to not only help change the life of an international student, but realise the benefits for themselves.

“It is a fantastic opportunity to share our culture and to support someone new coming to our country who has career aspirations they want to pursue,” Monash College’s Homestay manager Karen Taylor said.

“Some people can be anxious or concerned about having someone new in their homes but in a lot of cases we see people feel the rewards of learning about other cultures, supporting someone else and building an international relationship.”

The blessings of the program have been constant, with many friendships formed between the students and host families during and after their homestay.

Ms Taylor stated that many host families have also reported how upon the student going home they have visited them overseas for holidays or been at the student’s wedding and had them come back to visit in Australia.

“The connection and continuing of the relationship becomes a lasting friendship in many cases,” Ms Taylor said.

The Monash Homestay team places more than 2000 international students from Monash College and Monash University with homestay families each year, but more locals are needed to help continue this.

For the next intake of students, Monash College is asking for good quality hosts that could provide students with a safe and secure home and offer them three meals a day, seven days a week.

Hosts in an ideal location of being walking distance or within a reasonable travel distance from the campus would be ideal, as well as hosts who really want to invest in communicating and interacting with the student.

“When the students are first arriving the vast majority of them haven’t been out of their home country before, so they’re coming to a new country, having to study in English and adapt to a new environment and new norms,” Ms Taylor said.  “The benefit of staying with a local Australian family is really immense to helping them settle in and feel safe and secure and like someone has their back.”

While hosts will receive a financial reimbursement for housing the student, this should only be an added underlying bonus for host families with the overriding reward coming from the friendship and connection that is formed.

As the process can take some time, the Monash Homestay team asks that locals interested in making a difference head to its website to read the information in further detail – a step that will make it easier on Monash Homestay staff who are getting back on their feet after COVID disrupted the sector.

“We currently have an abundance of students coming through, so people can read all the information online, register their interest and then we can start preparing for the next intake,” Ms Taylor said. •

If you’re interested in becoming a homestay host, please visit: monashcollege.jobreadyplus.com/stu/network/becoming_homestay_hosts

More information about the homestay program can be found here: monashcollege.edu.au/information-for/homestay-hosts/becoming-a-homestay-host

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