Thinking of living in Homestay?

What is Homestay?

Homestay is a program designed to promote friendship and language learning, and provide opportunities for cultural exchange between Canadians and international students who attend Vancouver Island University or the High School at VIU. Local residents open their homes to students so they may experience friendship across cultures. Many life-long friendships have developed from these homestay experiences. In fact, many homestay hosts have travelled to their students' countries for weddings and visits.

About the Homestay Program

Living with a Canadian family means having a support system to help adjust to the new environment. Hosts are happy to help students get a bank account (in the student's name only), show them how to use the bus system and community centres, and treat the student like part of the family. Use the opportunity to practise English, ask questions about homework, do activities with host, and more. Living with a homestay family means students have to put effort into the relationship, but like all relationships, the more one puts in, the more rewards one receives. Many students find that their Canadian host family becomes like a second family, their life-long "Canadian family."

  1. Become familiar with, understand, and follow the routines of the homestay host. Hosts should provide a written set of house rules which they will review with students. Students need to ask questions so they understand the host's expectations.
  2. Discuss any food preferences or needs with the hosts so they can understand what the student needs to feel comfortable.
  3. Canadian food is probably different from what students are used to eating in their country. Try to adapt to a Canadian diet because it is part of the learning experience. If there are foods that only the student eats, the student should purchase them for themself.
  4. The student must always tell the host if they will be away overnight and leave a telephone number where they can be contacted. The student must tell the host when they will be home.
  5. If a student will not be home for the evening meal or will be arriving home late in the evening, the student must tell the host. Hosts worry about students, just like their own family. Be considerate of this.
  6. Students should always leave the host a telephone number in case of an emergency. Canadians are offended, worried, and may become angry if these practices are ignored. Family members call if they are going to be late coming home or will not be home for a meal.
  7. Ask the hosts before inviting guests to the home. Students are welcome to have friends visit them at the home, but they must always ask the host before inviting friends over. If a student's family or friends visit and wish to stay at the homestay host's home, those guests should pay the same nightly rate to the host that the student pays. This arrangement must be planned with the host in advance and the visitors should not stay at the host’s home for more that 5 nights. The Homestay family is not obligated to host a student's family and/or friends.
  8. Absolutely no use of drugs, alcohol or any sexual activity in the host’s home. Using drugs or alcohol, or having sexual relations in the home are not permitted.
  9. The student is to clean their own room and bathroom after they use it. Help the hosts wash the dishes after the evening meal or clean up after oneself after preparing a snack. Students learn to wash their own laundry, change their bed sheets regularly and prepare their own breakfast and lunch.

Living with another international student in homestay 

There may be a second homestay student in the same home, usually from a different language group. The Homestay Program will usually only place more than two students in one home if there is an emergency.

Homestay fees for University students

Effective May 1, 2021, homestay fees for students who are registered in undergraduate, graduate, trades and vocational programs, and upgrading and preparatory programs are as follows:

  • Application fee = $275
  • VIU Monitoring Fee = $50/month
  • Homestay with meals = $900/month and $32/night
  • Homestay without meals = $600/month and $20/night

Each student pays a $275 application fee.  A student in homestay with meals pays $900/month that goes to the homestay host and $50/month in monitoring fees for a total of $950/month.  Partial months are charged $32/night.

A student in homestay without meals pays $600/month that goes to the homestay host and $50/month in monitoring fees for a total of $650/month.  Partial months are charged $32/night.

Short-term placements, Custom Programs, ELCP Programs, and Summer Camp Programs at The High School at VIU which are 31 days or less in length are subject to a Short Term Fee Schedule. Contact for more information or to request a quote.

Fees are subject to change.

Homestay fees for students of The High School

Effective July 1, 2021, homestay fees for students who are registered at The High School at VIU are as follows:

  • Application fee = $275
  • VIU Monitoring Fee = $50/month
  • Homestay with meals = $950/month and $33/night

Each student pays a $275 application fee.  A student of The High School at VIU pays $950/month that goes to the homestay host and $50/month in monitoring fees for a total of $1,000/month.  Partial months are charged at $33/night.

Summer Camp Programs at The High School at VIU which are 31 days or less in length are subject to a Short Term Fee Schedule. Contact for more information or to request a quote.

Fees are subject to change.

Once high school students are conditionally accepted into the program, an invoice for homestay fees is sent out that shows fees and due dates.

Fees are subject to change.


Click here for Learn more about homestay fees

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Matching a homestay host and a student is done with much care and thought. The host availability, activities/hobbies and interests of the host and student are considered as well as if there are any medical concerns (allergies), whether there are children in the home, if people smoke, and many other factors when arranging for a homestay placement. The more accurate the information provided a student provides in the homestay application, the more information the Homestay Program has to determine a good placement opportunity.

Please note: Vancouver Island University cannot guarantee that all student personal preferences will be met.

Canada is a multicultural society which values and respects the diversity of all Canadians. Many different kinds of Canadian families participate in the Homestay Program. Many Canadians speak other languages and are immigrants themselves.  It is both policy and practice that host families speak only English to students. It is our policy that hosts should use English as the primary language in the home.

Living with a Canadian family has many challenges. When a student arrives, everything is new: food, school, friends, family, social expectations, gender roles, communication styles, pace of life, and much more. Living with a Canadian family means having someone to help through this very difficult time, but a student has to put in effort as well. Ask questions and be open to trying new things, such as different foods and new ways to doing things. The first semester (4 months) is usually the most difficult, so be prepared! A person will feel good, bad, homesick, frustrated, angry, sad, and then happy again. This stressful situation is called "culture shock". Some students find this extremely difficult. It's a time when they cannot sleep, they eat too much or can't eat at all. Other student want to hide in their rooms or simply leave Canada. These feelings will pass. These feelings are normal, so you can expect them in varying intensities. Everyone experiences culture shock differently. Most importantly, speak with someone about how you are feeling and stay active. Talk about how you feel with your host, your teacher(s), any staff member or visit the Homestay Program. Many have all had these same experiences and can help.

The Homestay Program is an approved activity under the Co Curricular Record (CCR). The CCR at VIU encourages a more holistic academic and career development for VIU students by building upon their accumulating skills and experiences.

The Faculty of International Education believes that by participating in the Homestay Program, students and hosts experience learning and skill development.

The Homestay Program focuses on the following Graduate Attributes: Capacity to Engage in Respectful Relationships, Collaboration, Ethical Reasoning, Intercultural Perspective, and Oral Communication.

Participants in the Homestay Program are eligible for recognition on the VIU Co-Curricular Record once they complete a homestay term.

Apply to Homestay Today!

Are you an international student and want to apply to the VIU Homestay Program? The Homestay program focuses on helping students build an intercultural perspective, collaborate, build respectful relationships, and build communication skills.

The VIU Homestay Program is currently accepting student applications for the following periods:

Spring 2022 semester (January - April). Apply by November 5, 2021.

Applications with less than 6 weeks processing time to the requested move-in date will be assessed a $100 rush fee.

Apply Now

Important: Students should only consider living with a Canadian family if they are serious about wanting to challenge themselves in this way. Canada is a country of immigrants from other countries who bring their cultures and experiences with them. Homestay hosts are from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds.

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Homestay Student Testimonials

“The best thing was that I could learn true Canadian cultures with a real Canadian family. I think I learned a lot of things that I could not learn if I haven’t spent my study abroad with my Canadian host family. They always helped me out with improving my English skill. They always answered my small and big questions and sometimes they even challenged me. That meant a lot to me.”

- Miyu Tsujino, Homestay Program Student


“In terms of the language, I would have never been able to improve my skills without my host family. Besides, they were always supportive and caring, which helped me very much especially when I was going through a hard time. I am so thankful to my host family for giving me one of the best experiences I've had in my whole life. I love them very much and will always miss them.”

- Kaori Tsuji, Homestay Program Student 

Want to learn more from students who have attended VIU's ELC and academic programs?

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