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Adelaide Mum Explains How Hosting International Students Enriches Her Children’s Lives and Allows Her to Be a SAHM

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to host an international student in your home? Would you love your children to make new connections and learn more about other cultures and the world around them from the comfort of your own home? Could you turn your spare room into an asset that could benefit your family?

If you’ve ever thought about opening up your home as a host and welcoming in a young international student, this one is for you! We caught up with Adelaide mum of 4, Nicky Mumford, who has been hosting international students on and off for the past 15 years to get the lowdown on how it all works and whether there are some real benefits for Australian families to join the homestay community.

On paper the benefits are numerous:

  • Experience new cultures, food, language, customs, and traditions.
  • Participate in activities and meet other homestays.
  • Rediscover your own backyard through the eyes of an international student.
  • Connect with the world around you.
  • Create lifelong memories with your students.

But we wanted to dig deeper and find out if these benefits play out in real life, and how a typical Australian family deals with the practicalities of providing a homestay environment for a young student.

Nicky is bursting with enthusiasm from the get-go, explaining “I personally love being a host parent for so many reasons and am passionate about what the experience has to offer and seeing it done well. I would love to see more families like mine getting onboard for their own benefit as well as the students’.”

The Allowance is Generous

Knowing whether you can afford to host a student may be a deciding factor for many families thinking about applying as a host in a homestay program, so Nicky decides to cover this issue straight off the bat.

“Let’s get this one out of the way first. The Homestay Allowance will soon be $340 per week. From this you will need to provide your student 3 meals a day and a reasonable number of snacks. If you are someone who maintains a grocery budget and meal preps it is a generous allowance, in my opinion. This payment is classed as an allowance and does not need to be declared to the tax man.” *

*Disclaimer: Everyone’s situation is different and each individual should check with their accountant, ATO, or Centrelink on how the homestay allowance may affect them.

“This allows me to be a stay-at-home mum while my kids are little. It is sad that this is a luxury nowadays – in most families, parents are working more now because the rising price of living means they need a dual income. Without the allowances that comes from hosting, I would 100% need to work. Being a host family provides an avenue for my family to spend time together and unites us in something meaningful.”

It Teaches Children to Be Responsible, Kind, Considerate, Hospitable, Patient and Respectful

“It’s not just my husband and I that host, we are a host family. This means our kids also have a responsibility to our students as well. As a family we enjoy taking them out and about showing them Adelaide and our culture. Our kids take an active role in welcoming them into our family too, by playing with them, talking to them, and helping them – for instance if they can’t find something in the kitchen.”

“Hosting international students enriches all our lives and helps us practice important life and social skills. Not only do my children learn to be responsible, but they also learn to be kind, considerate, hospitable, patient, and respectful. My kids have thoroughly enjoyed watching our students experience new things that we might otherwise take for granted like cuddling a koala for the first time, feeding a kangaroo (and eating one), trying Vegemite on toast, and being greeted by a blue tongue lizard after having a shower! It’s given us all a greater appreciation for our beautiful city, and we love sharing that with our visitors.”

Children Learn About Other Cultures and Ways of Doing Things

“We mostly love the casual chats at the kitchen table, and learning about everything from how they do things in their home country, and what they eat to how long they go to school. These everyday things that are so different from our culture here in Australia absolutely fascinate my kids. Recently they’ve also really enjoyed learning how to write Japanese, do origami and make sushi!

International Students are Great Role Models

“International students are the types of role models I want for my kids. Seeing our international students preparing their own food, doing their own washing, talking respectfully to adults, studying hard, participating in their chores (and often spontaneously helping without being asked) and being brave enough to travel overseas on a huge adventure by themselves, are awesome things for our kids to see modelled. I couldn’t ask for better role models for my kids, and I know that it inspires them and makes them realise that it is possible for them to travel too one day.

The Chance to Embrace New Cuisines

“My kids still enjoy the pasta and nugget rotation, and they will eat most veggies I cook; however, I haven’t had a student yet that doesn’t love a good curry, laksa, noodles or stir fry meal. It is so good to be able to cook more adventurous meals for my husband and I to enjoy. When it’s just us I don’t tend to bother but because I often have 2 students in the home who I am cooking for as well, I go for it!”

“Through the homestay program and having students stay with us, I’ve also learnt more about cooking different types of food, such as kimchi (which is delicious!) I am often inspired by the culture of the students I host at any one time, so I’m currently exploring Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines!”

Advice for Families Considering Hosting an International Student

Having hosted more than 12 international students over the years, Nicky encourages other families to give it a go. According to her the application process is fairly easy and there is a team who coach you through it.

“Think outside the box with regard to spare rooms,” she advises. “Can your kids share? All 3 of mine do and will continue to as well, as we take off in our caravan next year to travel Australia on an adventure of our own.”

“My advice would be to maybe start with a short stay student, they are a lot of fun and I know their enthusiasm to see and do anything and everything Australian will give your family a buzz.”

“I’m always a little nervous to meet a new student. More for them than for me though. I don’t want them to feel too overwhelmed with our hectic household. It takes a little while for them to settle in. The key is to give them space and time, lots of casual and informal conversations and the kids are great for getting them on the trampoline which is an awesome ice breaker!”

Do you live in Adelaide? Are you ready to enrich your family’s lives and host an international student? Get started today by applying here.

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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