Schools in the Saanich district are located in beautiful neighborhoods. Families from these neighborhoods are carefully screened to host international students before they qualify. We understand the importance of a quality placement for every student. The Program ensures that students are placed in clean, caring homes and is responsible for on-going monitoring of the family and of the student.
In many cases, one of the family’s children attends school in this district. In fact, your host siblings may actually attend the same school you will attend. In addition, we try to house the student in a neighborhood near the school. Please note that the schools are located not far from downtown Victoria, and the city transportation service is safe and efficient.
Homestay Families – A Friendly Environment
Our host families have been screened and deemed able to provide an appropriate and healthy environment for an International Student. Families undergo a criminal background check. Families are also interviewed and their homes visited by our Homestay Coordinators on staff to assess interest, friendliness, and concern for the growth and development of the student. The emphasis is on a home that provides the student with comfortable surroundings and a place for practicing and developing English Language Skills and an appreciation for the culture in B.C.
The Program works hard to ensure that International Students are placed with families that best match the needs of the student including:
- Dietary needs
Despite the International Student Program’s best efforts, perfect matches may not always be available.
The International Student shall expect the following from the Homestay Family:
- A private room
- with window, near by smoke detector – fire drill procedures to be explained
- Bed and bedding, dresser, desk, chair, lamp, closet
- Adequate heat, light and ventilation
- Your Homestay family will discuss with you what can be put on bedroom walls and how to attach items.
- Access to bathroom and bathing facilities
- Three meals daily and other reasonable incidental foodstuffs. Your Homestay family will discuss with you as to who is responsible for what meal preparations
- Access to laundry facilities and procedures / routines
If you have access to Internet, you will be asked to follow the rules of the house. It won’t be possible to be on Internet for hours and hours and it is easy to understand why. We want you to share moments with your family and to practice the English language as often as possible. We do understand that you want to be in touch with your family and friends on a regular basis … but that does not require hours of Internet every evening.
The Homestay Family will also meet reasonable transportation needs, however this does not include daily transportation to and from school. The Homestay Family does not cover the extra-curricular school costs and extra costs for family outings, though Homestay Families will often pay for some activities.
Your Role – A Member Of The Family
It has been determined that the Homestay environment provides the greatest opportunities for the learning and acquisition of the English Language. It is also the ideal setting for learning new skills and experiencing ordinary English Canadian life. The Homestay Coordinators aim to integrate you as a regular family member as much as possible. Do not expect to be treated as an “honored guest”, instead you will be included in family life and activities like a regular member of the family. As such, you will be expected to complete your share of household chores. For instance, you will be responsible to keep your room clean, in addition to maintaining tidiness in other areas of the house. You should also be prepared to help with meal preparation, cleaning of dishes, and even doing your own laundry. All forms of household chores and work are in fact
Rules and Expectations
The following are some general comments on International Student Program Rules and Expectations, and are meant to be a guide only. Please review the following with your Homestay Family upon arrival for specific information.
School Attendance / Reports
Regular school attendance is expected of all students participating in the Program. Classes missed due to illness must be documented by a phone call to the school from your Homestay Family and a written note when you return back to school. Unexcused absences will be reported to your Homestay Family. Remember that excessive absences may result in loss of credit or expulsion from the International Student Program. Student Report Cards, Progress Reports and Attendance Reports will be mailed directly to agents and parents and to SISP Administration. Homestay Families also have the privilege of attending Parent-Teacher meetings to discuss the performance of the International Student.
Making Social Plans
While academic study, growth and development are the principle goals of the International Student program; group interaction and socializing are also important elements to a successful stay in the Program. Students should set aside a regular amount of time each week for leisure activities and relaxation. Each student should participate in the extracurricular activities of school each week though activities with your Homestay Family are also important. Regardless, all International Students should provide detailed information to their Homestay Families as to where they are going and how they can be reached (i.e. phone number), when they will be back, and with whom they are going out. Communication with your Homestay Family is important to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. Don’t expect your Homestay Family to “know” where you are or remember plans you may have mentioned days earlier. And remember, if you are going to be later than you had planned, contact your Homestay Family immediately! Students should ask for permission before going out, as opposed to informing their Homestay Family that they’re going out. Remember, your Homestay Family can enforce limits on the amount of socializing you may do, and the hours of socializing you keep.
As a regular member of the Homestay Family, you must respect the individual rules of the household. This includes the hours you are able to spend outside the home. Factors determining this may include: school night vs. weekend, type of activity and ages of family members in the Homestay.
Showers / Baths
International Students must respect the needs of all family members. The length of shower / bath and the time of day for a shower / bath must be mutually agreeable within each family.
Telephones/Cell phones (mobiles)
The rules of the household regarding the telephone must be obeyed, especially with reference to the length of the call and calls made or received late at night. Pre-paid long-distance calling cards are recommended. Students are required to pay the Homestay Family for any phone related services incurred by them. Our host families are advised not to sign cell phone contracts on behalf of their student. If you intend to use a cell phone (mobile) you need to be prepared to pay for all fees and charges yourself and meet any contract obligations on your own.
Smoking is greatly discouraged by the Program. The legal age for smoking cigarette in B.C. is 18 years.
Alcohol and Illicit Drugs
The legal drinking age for alcohol in B.C. is 19 years. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and using drugs. Drinking underage, excessive drinking, the use of illicit drugs and the use of false identification are strictly prohibited and may result in expulsion from the Program.
The International Student Program discourages its students from carrying or displaying large amounts of cash and monies. For security purposes, we recommend to use an automatic teller card (bankcards). The cost of living in Greater Victoria is generally quite reasonable, and students with extensive cash flow tend to be easily distracted from their studies. Do not lend to or borrow money from other students or from members of your Homestay Family.
Travel should not interfere with academic studies and should be limited to designated school holiday periods or on weekends. An application for student travel must be completed and signed by the biological parents for each trip outside of Victoria not associated with the Program or the host family. Unapproved travel is a serious infraction of the Program Rules and may result in expulsion from the Program. For security reasons, travel outside of Canada is not recommended. Many Homestay Families will want to include the International Student in their own travel and holiday plans. Students are encouraged to participate in such travels.
I have a problem with my school work – who do I contact?
Since this is not homestay-related, it is best for you to contact the International Advisor at your school.
- Claremont: Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Ryan
- Parkland: Mr. Choo and Ms. Anderson
- Stellys: Mr. Berger and Ms. Fitzgerald
I have a problem with my homestay – who do I contact?
If you are having issues in your homestay, please contact your school’s Homestay Coordinator:
What forms should I fill in if I want to travel out of the Greater Victoria area?
For trips out of the Greater Victoria area that are not supervised by your host family or natural family, fill in the day trip, overnight trip or flight trip form and hand in to your school’s international assistant. You can find the forms under the “important documents” tab.
I don’t like my host family; can I change?
In cases where you and /or the Homestay Family have issues with each other, you or family may contact the Homestay Coordinator. The Homestay Coordinator will assess the situation and together with you and /or the family, determine a reasonable solution. An acceptable resolution that involves a change in Homestay may require some time to arrange. A casual request to change families will not be entertained. Requests supported by evidence of a problem will be seriously considered and handled in the manner outlined above.
I lost my medical card; what should I do?
If you have Guard Me insurance, go to this website and follow instructions: https://www.guard.me/faqs.php