The thought of living abroad is both exhilarating and a little scary. The Internship Programme enables you to try life as a Londoner by living together with one of our host families for a few weeks. But what will it be like? Who are they? What if you don't get on? Don't worry, you will be absolutely fine. But to calm those pre-trip nerves, we've compiled a guide book that will explain the most common features of our host families' homes and daily lives.
1. Who are they?
Like people in general, all our hosts are unique. They are from different cultural backgrounds and have different kinds of homes, religious beliefs, interests and commitments. Some hosts live by themselves, others have children, pets and partners under the same roof. Whereas your friend’s retired host might have a flexible schedule, yours could be a working parent who has to follow a strict routine. Some might greet you as an extension of their family, whereas others will accommodate you as a guest.
Our hosts also have to fulfil a number of British Council requirements. When we choose our families, we make sure they live no more than 40 minutes by public transport from ADC College. The room designated to students must have space for clothes and belongings and an adequate bed is essential. We also look at the general cleanliness of the house, the number of bathrooms and if they are able to pick up and drop off students for arrivals and departures. Every person living in the house also needs to provide us with a DBS check to make sure they have no criminal convictions.
2. Respect and politeness
Accredited by the British Council and frequently monitored by our Accommodation Team, our host families follow ADC guidelines. But it's important to remember that the same rules apply to you. The key to a comfortable stay is to be friendly and respectful of the lifestyle, property and beliefs of your host, however different they may be from your own. One of the most important things to understand is that your host’s home is not a hotel and that their rules apply. Some are happy to provide you with a key, for example, whereas others will be home at certain times to let you in. When you meet your host, it's important that you are polite and treat them like an equal at all times. Learn their names and always swap phone numbers on arrival should you need to contact each other. It's important that you respect dinner and curfew times and always call if you're late. Also remember to speak English when you're near the family or during meals. Even if you're talking about something that only concerns your friend, it immediately excludes the host from the conversation and is considered very impolite. As always, being curious and open-minded will help you make the most of your stay.
3. The most common differences
There are some general features of UK life that apply to most of our host families, as explained in detail by this article. Due to the high cost of housing in London, your room might be smaller than back home. Some houses are not very well insulated, which means it might be colder than you're used to (it's unusual to keep heating on during the night even in winter months due to high energy costs). Don't hesitate to ask your host for more blankets or to turn the heating on longer in the evening. You will also find that the food is different from back home. In the UK, people tend to eat only toast or cereal for breakfast rather than the more filling continental version. Your dinner, on the other hand, should always be a big, hot meal. Many of our hosts also have busy London lifestyles, juggling jobs, long journeys to work and family commitments, so 'ready meals' – a pre-cooked meal which is heated up - can sometimes be the simple solution to a stressful day.
4. I have a problem
Most students who visit us will experience no conflicts or disagreements with their host families and instead enjoy their conversation and company. The conflicts that do occur usually arise from misunderstandings or culture clashes and can be easily solved. The first thing you should do if a problem occurs is speak to your host directly and try to find a solution. Has your host forgotten to give you a towel? Simply asking for one will do the trick. Do you want to eat out one evening? Again, just ask! Most hosts will be happy to agree, as long as they're kept in the loop. If the problem should persist, you can always contact ADC College and ask to speak to your Country Manager. We have routines in place to ensure issues are swiftly investigated, analysed and dealt with.
5. Can I stay with a friend?
Before arriving in London, you will fill in some paperwork where you can note the name of the friend or friends you would like to live with during the project. In most cases, we're able to accommodate your wishes. But living alone or with other people is sometimes the only option due to logistical difficulties or cancellations. Remember that one of the aims of the project is to become more confident and independent, which is only possible when you try new things.
6. Learn from your host
Most of our hosts have lived in Harrow and the surrounding boroughs for most of their lives. It would be a waste not to benefit from their knowledge of London and the local area. Plus, by speaking to them you will practice your English and learn about life in Britain in the process, whereas they will get to know you and the country you're from.
When you board the flight home, you will be filled to the brim with new stories, ideas and experiences!
Would you like to participate in our Internship Programme? Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or email us at email@example.com.