Students - HOST Visits

 

  • HOST is a unique opportunity to meet British residents in their homes and communities and to share their way of life.
  • HOST began in 1987. Since then, over 75000 students have enjoyed our hospitality, and many described their HOST visit as one of the most valuable experiences they had in the UK.
  • HOST has friendly volunteer hosts living all over the UK. We will introduce you to one of our hosts, who will invite you to spend a day, a weekend, or 3 days at Christmas in their home.
  • HOST visits are free of charge. Our hosts are not paid but will welcome you as a friend.
  • You pay for your travel. Your invitation will be found in a region you can afford to travel to.
  • There is an application fee which contributes to HOST’s administrative costs. Your university may pay this fee for you: check here.
  • Any questions? Lots of answers here.
  • Want to apply? Application starts here.
Home-grown grapes
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use HOST?
How is a HOST visit arranged?
     
What does HOST cost?
What should I expect on the visit?

Q. What will I know about my host before I go there?

Q. What should I take with me?

Q. How will I get from the rail or bus station to the host's home?

Q. I am from a different generation and culture - how can I avoid accidentally  offending my host?

Q. What about the food?

Q. What about religious differences?

Q. How are Christmas visits different?

 
 
Who are the hosts?
What happens after a visit?
Q. Am I expected to stay in contact with my host?

 

What exactly is HOST? (BACK TO TOP)

HOST is a voluntary (not-for-profit) organisation. We link international students in the UK with British residents who offer a visit to their homes. The purpose is to encourage international friendship and understanding.

 

Who can apply for a HOST visit? (BACK TO TOP)

To apply for a HOST visit you must be aged 18+ and registered as an international student at a UK academic institution. HOST cannot accept applications from outside the UK, nor from students on courses lasting less than 3 months.

 

Can a friend go with me? (BACK TO TOP)

Yes, but this must be arranged through HOST. You must not ask your host if you can bring a  friend after your visit has been arranged.

Your friend must be eligible to apply. Both you and your friend must complete applications, and you should each name the other in the ‘friend’ section of the application. You will be asked if you are willing to share a bedroom. Some hosts have two rooms available, some have only one room.

Please note that if you are willing to share a room with a friend who is the same sex as you, the room will have two separate beds.

However, if your friend is of the opposite sex to you, and you answer that you are willing to share a bedroom, we will assume that you are a couple, and you may find that you are placed with a host who has only one room available, and it has a double bed.Therefore, if you are applying with a friend who is the opposite sex to you, do not offer to share a room if you are not happy to share a bed. 

 

Can my husband/wife and children go with me? (BACK TO TOP)

Yes, these—and ONLY these—family members can go with you, if they are living in the UK with you while you are a student here. (A long-term partner who has accompanied you to the UK is included in the term ‘husband/wife.) Family members who are visiting you are not eligible for HOST. Please give some information about your husband/wife when you register.

 

What does the application cost? (BACK TO TOP)

The application fee contributes to HOST’s administration costs. The application fee for a weekend or Christmas visit is £50+VAT = £60 in total. For a one day visit it is £30+VAT = £36 in total. Some institutions pay all or part of this fee for their students.

 

Does my institution help with the application fee? (BACK TO TOP)

Check here.

 

Does HOST issue refunds? (BACK TO TOP)

If you respond promptly to our messages, give us any additional information we ask for, and are as flexible as you can be, we will refund your application fee if we are unable to find an invitation for you. However, if we are unable to contact you; if you fail to tell us that your availability has changed; if you refuse a suitable invitation we have found for you; if you cancel after accepting an invitation—we are NOT able to refund the application fee. The fee is a contribtion to our administrative costs, and we cannot refund it if costs have been incurred.

 

Can I cancel if I am not offered a Christmas or New Year visit? (BACK TO TOP)

The festive period is our busiest time of year. We ask all students to provide at least three available dates, as at other times of the year, and Christmas and/or New Year can be included in these three. However, we never guarantee a visit on one particular date. If we are unable to find you a festive visit, but you still have other available dates, we will continue looking for an invitation on one of your other dates. If you choose to cancel when not offered a festive invitation when you still have other available dates left, you will not be eligible for a refund.

 

How much will my travel cost? (BACK TO TOP)

When you apply, you will be asked how much you are willing to spend on your travel—this means the total for your return journey. We will allocate you to a region you will be able to reach within your travel budget.

To reduce travel costs:

1. If you intend to make several journeys in the UK, it will be worthwhile to purchase a student travel card. These are available separately for coaches, and for trains. With a travel card, fares are reduced by about 30%.

2. Advance purchase tickets are often available at much reduced prices BUT please note: they apply to specific dates and times and can only be used on the trains or coaches named on the ticket.

What happens in the event of an 'Act of God'? (BACK TO TOP)

Trains and coaches are sometimes cancelled when there are adverse weather conditions. Even if you are still able to travel, your host may not be able to drive to meet you at the station, and so you will not be able to go. It is rare for visits to be cancelled for this reason. HOST cannot offer refunds for cancelled journeys, but we will re-arrange your visit for a later date with no further application fee required. If you choose not to accept a replacement visit we regrettably cannot refund your application fee. Similarly, HOST cannot be held responsible for any ‘Act of God’, which includes circumstances out of our control. If your visit is cancelled due to an ‘Act of God’ we regret that we are unable to offer you a refund.

 

Do I have to pay for the visit? (BACK TO TOP)

No. HOST visits are free. This is because of the generosity of the hosts who offer their hospitality freely. Your hosts are not paid to welcome you to their home.

 

Who pays if my host takes me out, for example to a historical site, or a restaurant? (BACK TO TOP)

You should take some cash with you, so that you can offer to pay your own entrance fee to a tourist attraction. If you have a drink or snack while you are out, your host will appreciate it if you offer to buy them a drink too. Some hosts will not accept your offers to pay; some hosts will accept. If your host proposes to take you somewhere where there will be a charge, do not be embarrassed to ask how much you will need to pay. If the amount is too much for you, please tell your host.

Please note that it is NOT rude or offensive in this country to offer to pay; and it IS inconsiderate to expect your host to pay for everything.

 

What about insurance? (BACK TO TOP)

All students are advised to have travel and personal insurance while they are in the UK. Our hosts are covered by their household insurance against accidents to visitors. And all car drivers in the UK must by law have insurance to cover accidents to their passengers.

 

Who are the hosts? (BACK TO TOP)

HOST has approximately 1600 hosts. They live all over the UK. A few live in big cities, but the majority live in small towns or villages, and some in quite remote rural areas.

Hosts come from many different backgrounds: they are professionals, or business people, artists or craftsmen or farmers…. Many are retired—and many retired people are very active in their communities. Some live alone; some have families at home; many are couples.

 

Why do people become hosts? (BACK TO TOP)

All our hosts enjoy meeting people from other countries. They want to learn about your culture; and they will enjoy sharing their way of life, their interests and customs, with you.

People join HOST for many reasons; to repay hospitality which they, or their children, have received in other countries; to stay in touch with young people; to show their region to visitors; to introduce their children to other cultures; to learn about a world they cannot visit; or to stay in contact with a country they have visited. Many hosts are motivated simply by a wish to make international students feel welcome.

 

Are the hosts checked? (BACK TO TOP)

When a person offers to become a host, we tell them all about HOST. Then we ask a volunteer Regional Organiser (RO) to go and visit them in their home. If the RO is happy with the people and the accommodation, the new host will be registered with us. Our ROs know all the hosts in their region, and it is the RO who will be finding an invitation for you.

In addition, after every visit we request feedback from the student and the host. We check this feedback carefully, and if it raises any concerns (which is rare) we take action.

 

What will my host’s home be like? (BACK TO TOP)

Every home is different! All HOST expects is that the house will be clean, and that you will have your own bedroom. There may be a bathroom for guests, but you may be using the family bathroom.

Some people keep their homes very warm at all times, but some British people do not have central heating on all day and stay warm  by wearing more clothes. Please take warm clothes with you, and if you feel cold, ask your host for extra jumpers, or blankets at night.

 

What about pets? (BACK TO TOP)

When you apply, you will be asked if you will go to a host who has cats or dogs. Approximately 75% of our hosts have either a cat or a dog, or even both! In this country, pets are usually treated like members of the family. They generally live indoors and are allowed in all areas (dogs are not normally allowed in bedrooms). Pet dogs and cats are tame and friendly, and often make a HOST visit even more fun. However, if you really do not like pets, please ask us to place you in a home with no pets.

 

Can I choose the location of my visit? (BACK TO TOP)

You can tell us if you want to stay near your place of study. Otherwise, we will allocate you to a region you can reach within your travel budget.

Please note that HOST is not about tourism—which can be done in other ways—but it is about meeting people and sharing their home life—which often cannot be done in any other way. Most hosts love to take students out to see their region. And there are many interesting and beautiful parts of Britain that you will never see as a tourist.

 

When will I have the visit? (BACK TO TOP)

We ask you to give us a choice of at least 3 dates. If your availability changes after you have submitted your application, please let us know immediately.

Christmas visits are popular—please apply early to increase your chances of an invitation.

If you are unable to provide at least 3 dates, we can still continue looking for a place for you, but your visit will not be guaranteed. If you provide less than three dates and we cannot find you a placement, you will not receive a refund.If you provide three dates or more and we still cannot find you a visit, you will be issued a refund.

 

Can I have a visit at short notice?

No. It takes time for HOST to process your application.  Also, most hosts have busy lives and are not free to invite you at short notice.

 

How long will I stay with the host? (BACK TO TOP)

Most HOST visits are for a weekend—you arrive on Friday evening and leave on Sunday evening. If you prefer, you can ask to stay for one night only (usually Saturday night).

You can also request a one day visit. You will arrive in the morning, and leave in the evening of the same day. Day visits are usually arranged on a Saturday or a Sunday.

At Christmas there is no public transport for one or two days, so a Christmas visit is normally for 3 nights. It is sometimes possible to arrange a day visit near your university at Christmas.

 

How is a HOST visit arranged? (BACK TO TOP)

When we receive your application, we will ask your institution to confirm that you are registered there (authorisation).

Next, we will send your application to one of our Regional Organisers (RO). These people are volunteers, working in their own time to link you with a host in their region.

The RO should email you to tell you which region you are allocated to, and to ask you to confirm the dates you are available. Please reply promptly to the RO.

It may take the RO some time to find your invitation. If you are concerned because you have not heard anything, please contact the RO or the HOST office.

When the RO has found a suitable invitation for you, they may email you first to describe the invitation. When you confirm your acceptance, they will then send you the full details about your host. (Please see the next question too.)

You should then contact the host very soon to thank them for the invitation and to start discussing your travel arrangements. Please do not buy tickets until you have agreed your arrival and departure times with your host.

If you make any changes after you are in contact with your host, please inform the RO too.

 

Do I have to accept the invitation? (BACK TO TOP)

ROs take a lot of trouble to find the best invitation for you on a date you have given.

If you cannot or do not want to accept the invitation, please explain why.  If the problem is  the date, the host might be willing to change it.

If you refuse an invitation which is for one of your given dates, and which complies with your requests regarding pets, then HOST is not obliged to look for another invitation for you.

Unfortunately, HOST cannot promise to find invitations in specific locations, or with certain kinds of family. Part of the adventure of a HOST visit is discovering wonderful people and places you had not previously imagined.

 

What will I know about my host before I go there? (BACK TO TOP)

We will send you information about your host — contact details, age range, people in the household, their occupations and interests.

We hope that before the visit you and your host will be in regular communication by email or telephone, and you will start to get to know each other. You can send them a picture of yourself, and ask them for a picture too.

You can use the internet to find out something about your host’s area.

 

What should I take with me? (BACK TO TOP)

Your tickets! And if you have one, your travel card. Some cash.

Your host’s address and telephone numbers.

Some warm clothes, a coat, and shoes suitable for walking in the countryside.

A small present to say thank you for the hospitality. The most suitable gift would be a souvenir or food from your country. Otherwise, flowers or chocolates are always welcome.

If you have pictures of your home and family, your host will be interested to see them.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You should take your cellphone in case you need to contact your host on the journey but PLEASE put it away most of the time when you are with your host. You can communicate with your friends any time. This HOST visit is a unique chance for you to spend time with British people.

Finally, take a positive attitude—then you and your host will both enjoy your stay.

 

How will I get from the rail or bus station to the host’s home? (BACK TO TOP)

Almost all hosts meet their guests at the station. For some, this involves a long car journey. Please be considerate and inform your host if you missed your train, or if it is running late.

A few hosts will tell you how to catch a bus or walk from the station to their house.

 

I am from a different generation and culture—how can I avoid  offending my host? (BACK TO TOP)

If you are asking this question, you are a thoughtful, considerate person who is unlikely to offend a host. Hosts always enjoy guests who: show that they are interested; show their appreciation; offer to help (it is not a hotel); switch off their electronic devices; take pictures but ALSO look at the view; ask questions; send a message of thanks after the visit; ask permission before posting pictures on social network sites. More advice here.

 

What will I do while I am there? (BACK TO TOP)

Every visit is different!

These are some of the things which you will do: chat about many things; cook and eat together; join in with daily life; have an outing or two to a place of interest.

And these you might do: join in a community event; attend a church service; meet your host’s family or friends; play indoor games; learn a new skill.

 

What about the food? (BACK TO TOP)

Your host will provide all your meals. If you are not sure what the food is, or how to eat it, just ask. If your host offers you more, and you would like more, say ‘yes please’ because in this country, it is not polite to keep insisting people have more. If you are hungry, ask if you could have a snack. 

If you want to cook a meal for your host, please offer.

 

What about religious difference? (BACK TO TOP)

Please tell your host before your visit about anything which might affect your stay: dietary restrictions; time needed for prayer. If you are Muslim, please note that it may be difficult for a host to accommodate your needs during Ramadan.

 

How are Christmas visits different? (BACK TO TOP)

They are a bit longer and often involve traditions not seen at other times of the year.

 

Am I expected to stay in contact with my host? (BACK TO TOP)

Please send a message of thanks after your visit. This means a lot to your host. After that, it is your choice whether or not you stay in touch. Many students do.