Accommodation - Homestay

Staying with a new family is going to be a big change for you. Your homestay family will be speaking English or French at home and they will have different rules, traditions and customs from what you are used to. It is therefore very important that you have REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS of what it will be like.

You are welcomed into your Homestay’s home and you will be treated like a family member. This means you help with house chores, keeping your room tidy as well as spending time together.

Important Things You Must Know


The legal smoking and drinking age in Quebec is 18. Should you break any of the following rules, you will be expelled from your homestay and school and your Custodianship will be cancelled. You will be sent back home, at your cost, immediately.

  • Purchase or drink alcohol
  • Purchase or smoke cigarettes
  • Purchase, use or distribute illegal drugs including marijuana
  • Possession of weapons, or replicas of weapons
  • Use of false identification
Going out on Your Own or with Friends

When you do go out, please let your homestay family know where you will be going, and how you can be reached (include all relevant phone numbers); when you will be home (remember your curfew!) and who you will be with. This information is important for your safety and your host’s peace of mind. Remember, your homestay family is responsible for you.

Please do not assume your homestay family knows where you are, or remembers plans you have discussed in advance. Always review your plans with your homestay family when you are going out. Always let your host know when you will be coming home—and always call if you’re going to be late. They will worry if you’re not home on time


Host families and international students need to discuss school day and weekend curfews. Students are expected to respect the routines and rules of the household. You must phone your host if you are delayed past your curfew, or require help, at any time. If you do not follow these guidelines you could be asked to leave the program.


The homestay program does not encourage overnight visitors or visits. If you wish to have a guest, you must ask for permission from your host.

Students in the homestay program are only allowed to stay overnight at the homes of other students if they have the permission of their parents, host family, and the two families have been in touch with each other.

In cases when your homestay host is away and needs to make alternate sleeping arrangements for you, the host must inform the homestay coordinator of where you will be staying with the family’s name, address and phone number. You are not permitted to bring guests into the homestay if the homestay family is not at home. Ask permission from your home stay family if you like to invite a guest.

Homestay Problems

If a problem comes up between you and your host family the first thing we ask you to do is to contact your homestay coordinator for assistance. Our goal is your (and your host’s) safety, happiness, and health; we’ve found that most problems can be resolved when we listen to one another’s feelings and thoughts. In some cases your homestay coordinator may have to find you a new host family.

A student may be relocated (and may even be sent back to his or her home country) if he or she is disrespectful toward his or her host family or refuses to follow the family’s rules. We are also very strict about how the host families should treat you. You will be immediately relocated if any member of your homestay household:

  • Regularly fails to provide adequate and/or healthy food;
  • Neglects you, by failing to include you in suitable family activities, or by failing to pursue constructive communication and conversation with you;
  • Willfully disrespects you, either through lack of consideration or insensitivity toward your feelings and/ or culture;
  • Fails to provide a clean and adequately maintained physical environment;
  • Continues in unresolved personality conflicts with you, individually or in the family;
  • Steals your property;
  • Harasses you in any way—verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually.
Please Keep This In Mind

Almost every difficulty our students face in homestay is connected to poor communication. It’s not surprising—in your first weeks in Canada, you may have a hard time making your hosts understand what you need and how you feel—and your hosts may have a hard time making you understand them. This is totally natural and to be expected.

Sometimes the difficulty communicating can result in either the student or the host seeming rude or insensitive—or both. Sometimes we can all just become frustrated and unhappy. We know it can be hard at the beginning, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You can contact your homestay coordinator or the international students’ advisors to help you.

We know that lots of ordinary things about your homestay may make you feel strange at first but it is okay to ask for help. Please don’t say things are “fine” if they aren’t. Please be patient and try to be as specific about your needs and feelings as possible.

It’s okay to need some quiet time to yourself—but sometimes the best way to grow more comfortable at home is to get involved, meet people, and most of all to talk—your hosts have welcomed you into their home because they want to get to know you.

Life With Your Homestay Family

Every host is different — just like every student. What the hosts have in common is that they want to provide a safe, caring environment for you. Hosts want to provide the same comfortable, healthy and supportive home life they would ask a host family to provide for their own children. If you’re not happy with your match, please contact your homestay co-ordinator.

Tips For Success

Your homestay experience will largely depend on your own attitude and friendliness. How can you make the most of living in Montreal?

Come with an open mind and be ready to embrace the ways in which Montreal and the people you will meet here are different and unique. Your host family will be eager to help you adapt to their family and Canada.

The more you get involved in your new life the happier you will be.

Getting Settled

The first few weeks living in a new country with a new family can be difficult. You may feel homesick and frustrated with your new environment and the language. This is normal.

A Tour Of The Neighborhood

Ask your host for a tour of your new neighborhood, including directions to and from your school and any local attractions or meeting places. Ask your host for help using public transit.

Ask how and where to buy passes/tickets and information on local transit routes. Your school can provide you with information on how to obtain a student transit card.

A Tour Of Your New Home

Please ask for a tour of your house when you first arrive. Your host will show you where everything is, including your bedroom and bathroom; the kitchen and dining area; the laundry room, etc. Make sure you also meet all members of your new host family.

House Rules

Your host family will have certain rules concerning daily life in the house. These include when to have baths and showers; where food can or cannot be eaten; how to do laundry; curfews; limits on the use of technology and other family property; family schedules & bedtime hours; when it is OK to have friends over, and so on. There may be areas of the house your host will ask you not to use. Please respect their wishes.

Bedroom & Bathroom

Your bedroom will most probably include a window and smoke detector nearby; bed and bedding; a dresser, desk, chair, and lamp for studying; a closet; and adequate heat, light and ventilation. Your homestay family will discuss with you what you can put on bedroom walls and how to attach items. As a courtesy, and to conserve energy, please turn off the light and your computer before leaving your room for long periods. Your host may also ask you to turn down the heat in the room when you are gone for the day, if it is operated on a thermostat.

Please try to leave the bathroom clean and dry after you use it. Most students will share their bathroom with other family members or students. If there are several members of your household, please be considerate with the use of hot water, which might run out before everyone has showered!


Part of the fun of homestay is learning what Canadian families like to eat, and teaching your host family what you like to eat. Now is your chance to prepare a traditional meal from your home country for your host family. This will be a great treat for you and for them! Your host family will always provide your meals—but this doesn’t mean that your meals will be served to you. Your hosts may not be at home for every meal.

Breakfast. Each host family has its own unique morning schedule, so it is important to decide on a routine that will work best for everyone. Weekdays, breakfast is a quick, light meal. On weekends, families may prepare breakfast together. Some families eat a hot breakfast; others prefer to have something cold, such as cereal or toast, and juice. Your family might leave it up to you to decide what to eat in the morning—please ask them to show you where the food is kept and how to prepare your own breakfast if this is the case.

Lunch. Usually around noon, it consists of a light main course (soup, a salad, or a sandwich), a drink (water, milk, or juice), and a dessert of fruit or cookies. Your host will show you how to prepare or assemble such a lunch to bring to school from your home.

Dinner. Your host family will try to have a sit-down dinner, which is usually the largest and most important meal of the day. Dinner is between 5:00 and 8:00 pm. To be considerate, if you will not be home for dinner, you MUST phone your family before dinnertime to let them know of your plans. This way, they will not expect you, they will not worry, and they will leave some supper for you in the fridge. Dinnertime is the best time for families to talk about their day and for you to bond with your host parents and host brothers and sisters. If you have special dietary needs—if you have extreme likes or dislikes, or any allergies—please discuss them with your host as soon as you arrive.

Speak English

You have come to Canada to become more confident and assertive in English, so be brave! You might make mistakes at first, but your host family will help you. The best way to improve your English is to practice.

Use your English in events that include other members of the household, such as playing cards/board games, planning holidays and weekend outing, etc.

Using English One-on-One

  • Conversation, especially at dinner
  • Setting the table, meal preparation, gathering, etc.
  • Accompanying your host on errands (a trip to the supermarket is an interesting event for both of you, to identify and describe your favourite foods)
  • Watching TV or movies
A Few Communication Tips

Accept invitations to talk about yourself—don’t be shy! Try to give full answers to questions— explain how you feel and why, rather than simply saying “yes” or “no.” Offer lists of things you like and don’t like.

Ask your hosts to explain idiomatic expressions and slang. These can be hard to understand at first—and lots of fun to use. For example, “hang on” is equivalent to “one moment, please” or “please wait.”

If someone asks, “Do you understand?” be honest and ask for help if you don’t understand. Try to rephrase what you’ve said, or what you’ve heard. It can take effort—but it will always be worth it.

  • Speak English at all times
  • Speak slower, not faster, if you’re having trouble making yourself understood. Try rephrasing the same ideas using different words
  • Listen to the expressions your hosts use in English, make sure you understand them, and try to use them, too
  • Use charades, pointing, and body language!
  • Try writing items down—sometimes your reading and writing skills will be ahead of your verbal skills. Make the most of them! 
  • Purchase a Foreign Language—English dictionary
Common Challenges

If you experience any problems the following process is helpful; please try it:

  1. Speak with your host family immediately if you are upset by something. Most families will be happy to talk to you and to find out what can be done to resolve the problem.
  2. If the problem cannot be resolved by speaking with your family, please call the homestay coordinator for help.

Domestic Travel

Some Canadian families like to spend weekends or short holidays in a cottage in the country (second home) with family or friends. Some families spend school vacations in other parts of the country or abroad. If you can-not or do not want to go with your host family, please contact your homestay coordinator to make other arrangements.

Students are allowed to travel outside the city, with a Permission Form signed by their host parents/parents/guardians.

International Travel

Your biological family must arrange travels outside of Canada. It is the responsibility of the student and biological family to research and obtain the necessary visa/documents from the embassy or consulate of the country to be visited.

The homestay office must be notified of all travel arrangements outside of Canada.

Money & Valuables

Please bring an adequate amount of money for extra expenses such as meals out of the home, movies, extra-curricular school activities, etc.

Homestay fees do not cover these costs. Also, your Homestay fees do not include costs of major family outings. If you choose to participate in family holidays and/or travel where there are extra costs, you should expect to pay.

While theft is not common in Canada, it can and does happen. To keep yourself and your valuables safe, please do not carry or display large amounts of cash at any time. It’s a good idea to make two copies of important documents (such as airline tickets, health insurance forms, and your passport): one for you to keep with you, and another for your hosts. Keep the originals in a safe place—they should not stay in your school bag or suitcase.