Kelowna's very own,
Heritage Christian School International.

The Right Choice for
International Eductation.

Contact us to find out more

Choose your language

Downtown Kelowna, BC
Kelowna Vineyards, BC
Skiing at Big White
Kelowna Orchards, BC

Student Guidelines for Homestay

We are privileged to meet you and look forward to getting to know you better.  You have come to the right place – a place where you will feel at home and comfortable.  We are confident that your English skills will improve quickly and you will meet new friends that will last a lifetime.  As a Homestay student, you are taking part in a unique and wonderful adventure.  You are not alone.  Thousands of other students are currently involved in Homestay.  So enjoy your time with your Host Family and enjoy everything that Kelowna has to offer.  We hope your stay will be an enjoyable one.

Speaking English and Having Conversation

You are expected to speak English only in your home.  It is considered to be rude or impolite to speak another language in front of a Host Family or any English speaking person.

The more your speak English, the more quickly your English skills will improve.  Try to be friendly and participate in some activity with the family, help prepare a meal and initiate conversation.  Don’t just go to your room and close the door.  It would be good for you to sit in the living room reading a book or watch TV. 


If for some reason, you feel you are not a good fit for your home, please speak with the International Student Program Coordinator and together we will work out any concerns that either you or your Host Family may have.  Your Coordinator will work on behalf of both parties.

Homestay Fees

The Homestay fee is $950 per month for Middle to High School Students and $950 per month for Elementary Students.  This will be paid directly to the Host Family on a monthly basis from the school or from an agent on your behalf, as all fees have been paid for in advance by your parents.  You are expected to pay for any damages that may take place during their stay.  You are to let your Host Family know as soon as any damage is done.

Bus Passes

Older students wishing to use the City Bus may purchase monthly bus passes from City Hall, the Lotto Kiosk ticket center at Orchard Park Mall or Rexall Drugs on the corner of Hollywood Road and Hwy 33. Monthly bus passes are $45.00 per month, paid for by the student.  If you would like to purchase 10 tickets only, they are $20.25.

We would like to encourage older students to get a bus pass and take the bus whenever possible. You will be driven to and from school, but as you begin to make friends, get involved at the school and in extra-curricular activities, such as basketball practice, it may be beneficial for you to have a bus pass. For older students, you will feel more independent.  There will be days during the week when you will participate in our English Club – usually held on Wednesdays at 3:15pm.  You will be receiving emails from Teacher Amber regarding the activity and if there is an unusual end time to the activity. Sometimes there will be hockey games or other activities that are on other days.  Please keep your eyes on your email for that information. 

Customs of Canadian Families

Canada is a multi-cultural country and therefore, there are many differences among Canadian families.  Some people were born here and some have moved to Canada from other countries.  Ask your Homestay host to explain his or her own customs and schedules to you.  Tell him or her about your likes and dislikes.

Helping with Household Tasks

Your bedroom is their responsibility.  You are to make your own bed and clean your room. You will need to change your bedding once per week. You may be asked to help the family with daily chores, such as, setting and clearing the table, washing and drying the dishes.  This is always a great time to have conversation, too. Please remember that your Host Family is not your maid. You are to clean up after yourself, show initiative, and ask if you have questions. 



Your bedroom is your own private place.  People will knock on the door if it is closed.  As in any home, it is always appreciated if there is respect for each other’s privacy.


You will be provided three meals each day. Ask your Host family to show you how to make your own breakfast and lunch to take to school.   If you are old enough to be a bit more independent you will need to be always communicating with your Host Family about your plans.  Be on time for supper, but if you are going to arrive late or will not be coming home to eat, you will need to tell your Host Family as soon as possible.

The food will be different from what you are accustomed to and the manner of eating will probably be as well.  Indeed, the initial smells and sights of the food can be the most unsettling part of switching cultures for some students.  Remember: trying new foods is part of the Homestay experience, but if you do not like a food, it’s okay for you to just say that a certain food is not your favorite. You may even have some recipes from your country that you would like to share with your family.    

It is always a good idea to let your Host Family know again if you have any allergies to food.  You are so used to eating rice, as your main staple and not having it on a daily basis may be difficult for you, but that’s an easy fix.  If you are older, you may like to learn how to make it.  Rice can be made in larger amounts and put in baggies in the freezer as you desire.  That way, each day, you can take a baggie of rice out and take it for lunch. By the time your lunch hour rolls around, it will be thawed.  You may even like to eat it with a seaweed sheets that can be bought at the Chinese grocery store or Superstore.

It is common to have cereal and toast, coffee, tea, and juice for breakfast.  A more elaborate breakfast can involve eggs, oatmeal, or pancakes, but they are mostly eaten on the weekends when there can be a bit more preparation time.  Lunches generally involve sandwiches, juice, fruit, and/or cookies.

Initially, upon arrival in your home, you Host Family may want to walk you through the kitchen and show you what is available to you, ideas of what to make for lunch.  We can imagine walking in your kitchen and looking in the fridge and trying to figure out what to make.  It’s not easy. 

If you feel comfortable being shown how to make some of these items, I’m sure your Host Family would like to show you how. You will soon find breakfast and lunch easy to prepare.  You will need to clean the kitchen to your Host Family’s expectations after using it.  Older students should not fall into the trap of skipping breakfast and taking a bag of chips for lunch.  You will need a lot of energy as you immerse yourself into a new language and culture.

In some cultures, people show appreciation for food by making a lot of noises.  In Canada, however, making loud noises while eating, chewing with your mouth open, or burping is considered rude. 


Bathrooms in other countries are usually all tiled and water can go over the floor without any problems as you have open showers – no curtains and drains in the middle of the floor for water to flow down.  So you may need to be educated on Canadian bathrooms.  Please do not to take long showers and use too much hot water.  A daily shower is common.  Generally, a shower should last no more than 10 minutes.  You may be used to staying up very late at night…and into the early morning.  I suggest that you have a cut off time of 10:00PM. Please be reminded that all toilet paper and only toilet paper can be placed in the toilet.  In other countries, garbage cans are used for soiled toilet paper as their sewer systems cannot handle the load as in Canada.  You are expected to purchase all of your own toiletries, such as: soap, shampoo, conditioner (all hair products), shaver, shaving cream, toothpaste, plus all other personal items. 

** GIRLS – When using tampons or sanitary napkins for menstruation, please wrap and place them in a garbage can after use rather than flushing them down the toilet. 


You will need to be shown how to use the washer and dryer. 


For older students, your Host Family can give you a key for the house.  If you happen to be the last one to leave the home, you will need to be shown what the expectations are when you leave the house.


When you go out with your Host Family, and if you don’t mind, please take some pictures and send them along to me.  It’s always great to have some to choose from when putting some promotional material together.  Also, we will be putting together a video for the Japanese students that will be shown at their Grad in February 2017. Those pictures are wonderful memories to have.  Thank you for your help.


Local telephone calls are free, but keep them short. You will need to ask your friends and families overseas not to phone you after 10:00PM.  In this day and age and with technology, Cell phones, Skype, Facebook and many other options are out there for students to connect with home.  You will need to inform your friends and family to phone at proper times so that there is no disturbance in the home late at night. 


The Internet will be available to you in your room, but if you misuse the Internet by staying up to the early hours of the morning and then falling asleep in class, your Host Family will be asked to turn the Internet off by 10:00pm. 


You will soon realize that many Canadian families keep a dog or a cat or both as pets.  These animals usually live indoors and are very often treated as members of the family. 

Asking a friend to visit

You should always ask in advance if it is alright to have a visitor over. You must always speak English in the presence of your Host Family.  Occasionally, you may want a friend to sleep overnight.  This is always up to the Homestay’s discretion.

Visits away from your Homestay

Older students need to always leave the name of the person and his/her telephone number where you will be when you go out.  You are not to disappear without telling them your plans.  If they are going to be delayed, you will need to call them as it is better to call very late at night than not to call at all, as they may worry about you.  You are expected to sleep overnight in your own bed.  It is not common practice to sleep at a friend’s home.  You will always need to ask permission.


This is your medical insurance.  It is more of an all-inclusive medical program than BC Medical.  See their web page at www.guard.me. Those of you who are on Guard.me have been given your card and 3 copies of your claim form.  I suggest that you give your Host Family one of those copies and you keep the other two.  Always carry your Guard.Me card on you.  If you need to see a doctor, ask your Host Family to take you to the Walk In Clinic at Superstore as it is the most convenient.  You will not have to pay for it first.  You may want to bring your claim form, just in case they require it. 

Other expenses

Host families should include you when going somewhere as a family.  If it is something out of the ordinary, with an extra cost because of your presence, you are to pay. Host families do not pay for extra activities or outings.  For example: concerts, theatre, sport events, and skiing.  If they suggest eating a meal in a restaurant and an activity following, they will tell you what the plan is and let you know an approximate cost. Make sure you bring your money.  If you choose not to come because of the cost or other reasons, that’s not a problem. If you choose to stay home, your Host Family will make sure you have food in the fridge to eat or will suggest to you what you can make.     

Culture Shock

All of this change – from food to conversational patterns – will likely produce culture shock.  This is a period of disorientation and an anxiety as the two cultures clash within you.  This can be quite overwhelming and cause many emotions to arise, but be encouraged, try to be very flexible and open-minded.  Other students have gone through this before.  You’re going to make it! You can talk to other students, your Host Family, Teacher Amber, or your International Student Coordinator.  You can be reassured that better times will come. Enjoy your experience with your new Host Family.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Texting me is a great way to receive a quick answer.  For most of you, I am your custodian while you are in Canada. You are to let me know when you are leaving to go out of town or if you plan to do anything out of the ordinary.

Thank you for choosing Heritage Christian School!  We are happy you came!