Hosting foreign students is a great way to earn extra money. All you need is a spare bedroom, a couple of beds, a table they can use as a desk and a wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as it’s clean and welcoming it’s fine.
As a general rule, I really enjoy having them around. I get to chat with kids from all over the world, experience a slice of many different cultures and different personalities. Of course, I like some more than others but 99% are great kids.
If you live in a big(ish) city, it is very easy to find a language school. Once you register with them, after an initial visit, you’re good to go.
In summer, they are always looking for host families so you can be pretty sure to get work and the kids are only here for a few weeks. In winter it’s a bit harder as there are fewer students but you’ll be fine if you’re willing to take the long term ones who stay anything from 3 to 9 months. They are the ones I prefer as it gives us time to really get to know each other.
If you’re going to enjoy the experience, you also need to be quite laid back regarding tidiness and the general running of your home. If you’re a control freak this gig is definitely not for you.
The school I work with asks me to provide breakfast and dinner Monday to Friday (they get their own lunch during the week) and all 3 meals on weekends (lunch can be a sandwich). Meals are included in the fee you’re paid but, with some organising, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The one thing I have learnt is not to care about meal times: the first week (if you’re lucky) they MIGHT call you to say whether or not they will be home but, within a few days, they start forgetting. After some trial and error, I’ve come up with a system that works for me.
For breakfast I stock a couple of kinds of cereals, I have tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, bread, eggs and A LOT of milk (depending on the kids, we go through 16 to 30 pints a week). They can have whatever they want but they deal with it themselves, at whatever time they want.
At the weekend, they take whatever they want from the fridge or the freezer and – yep, you’ve guessed it – deal with it themselves. To be honest, most weekends they are out with their friends.
The evening meals can be more complicated as trying to get them all home a the same time is a bit like herding cats. I tend to cook things that can be easily reheated and we eat as we go along. If we’re having a meal that needs eating straight away, like chops or burgers, the ones who come home late can cook their own. I also have homemade “ready meals” in the freezer and lots and lots of pasta and rice.
After the initial shock of having to do something for themselves, they really enjoy the independence it gives them. The only non-negotiable rule is: “You use it…You wash it”.