Living with my Host Family
Frequently Asked Questions
- What will the food be like?
Homestay students are usually surprised at how much they enjoy sharing meals with host families. Hosts are always glad to share their favorite recipes and many love learning to cook the foods their students miss from home. Often student feel rushed, concerned about their studies when they join the family and are surprised to be happily sitting with the family for a long time, chatting over dessert. All hosts will honor your cultural food taboos, but they may not be able to purchase halal meat. It is not available in all neighborhoods.
- Who does the student’s laundry and cleaning?
Homestay students are responsible for their own laundry and cleaning. Most American families do not have domestic help. Therefore, it is normal for everyone in the home to help with some of the light housework as asked (e.g. washing dishes, taking out the trash, cleaning the shared bathroom, or sweeping after dinner). Homestay students are responsible for keeping themselves, their rooms, and their laundry clean.
- May I use my host’s computers or printers?
No. Hosts’ computer and printer equipment is personal property and cannot be used by homestay students.
Your room will have internet access and most students bring a computer of their own. If you do not have your own computer or printer, you should ask your university or academic program about gaining access to a computer lab on campus.
- What about transportation?
SEPTA (SouthEast Pennsylvania Transit Authority) is Philadelphia’s public transportation system, offering many options for smooth commuting both inside and out of Philadelphia. Our hosts live close to convenient bus, train, and trolley lines for University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, Temple, Jefferson and St. Joseph's Universities. Most hosts live within a convenient commute—in the West Philadelphia University area or in the neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia. The NW neighborhoods offer access to Manayunk, a favorite part of the city for young people, and access to Philadelphia's vast Fairmount Park and its beautiful trails and streams.
After dark, you should travel with a friend, use a taxi, or use one of the many campus transportation services available through your university or program. Students should take advantage of free bus loops, door-to-door shuttles, and walking escort services provided by their universities.
We will carefully teach you the best transportation route from your homestay to your classes by taking you there on the first day. We are not responsible for providing transportation for you.
A monthly SEPTA Key Card will take you anywhere you want to go in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.
- Will there be other international students in my homestay?
Frequently, there is more than one international student living in a homestay. This can be a wonderful way to make a good friend. Remember: all homestays are English-only zones. Out of respect for everyone learning English, if two students speak the same native language, they will not be permitted to use that language in the homestay. Yes, it can be a challenge! But by adhering to English-only, you will quickly improve your language skills. Your hosts will be able to help you figure out the best ways to say things in order to be understood—and everyone living in the home will feel comfortable and included.
- May I send my luggage ahead of me?
No. We can not accept luggage ahead of the student’s arrival.
- Are there rules in my homestay?
Every family has rules about “how things work” at their house, like cleaning up after yourself, being considerate of others, and letting them know if you aren’t coming to a planned meal or activity. But you’ll find there is a lot of freedom in living in homestay!
- Do you mix genders of students in homestay?
Having all men or all women students in homestay makes everyone feel the most comfortable!
- What about pets?
Most hosts do not have pets. But some do. Please be sure to let us know if you cannot live with pets. We'll look for a host without pets.
- Will I have chores in my homestay?
Students keep all personal belongings in their rooms. Some homes allow students to keep their shoes by the door if they are accustomed to wearing slippers indoors. Common spaces need to be left tidy and personal items should be removed after using them.
All students agree to thoroughly clean the bathroom they use once a month. Further, each student is expected to leave the bathroom clean for the next person. Cleaning supplies and laundry soap is provided.
Homestay guests agree to keep their own rooms clean, to remove their laundry promptly from the laundry room, to keep food out of the bedrooms, and to leave the kitchen completely cleaned up after using it (all surfaces clean, all dishes and cleaning utensils washed, dried, and put away). Everyone appreciates a clean environment!