What is a Homestay?

A homestay is an affordable housing option which provides students with an opportunity to experience American culture, improve English language skills, and make new friendships by living in an American home

Homestay owners are carefully selected for their kind and caring personalities and their genuine desire and willingness to open their homes and share their family lives and customs with the students.

Students who live in a homestay find that their English improves dramatically through conversation and daily interaction. They have a great sense of security and exposure to a rich variety of cultural learning opportunities, such as household activities, holiday celebrations, religious practices, sporting events, etc. The greatest reward for the students and homestay owners is the deep, lasting friendship that often develop between them.

The Homestay

In the United States a homestay family can take many forms. A homestay can be a retired couple, a single-parent family, a single, divorced, or widowed individual, as well as traditional family. They can be young or older, with or without children, different race or creed, but they all share a strong interest in the international students. Many of the families have traveled, lived abroad, or have hosted students before so they can identify the challenges you face while adjusting to life in America.

Every homestay will include:

  • A safe, clean and comfortable home
  • A kind and caring homestay owner
  • An English-speaking environment
  • A private furnished bedroom with study area
  • Access to a private or a shared bathroom
  • Sheets and towels
  • Cleaning products for bathroom maintenance
  • Healthy meals, if requested by the student
  • Kitchen access, as arranged with the family (students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves)
  • Food storage space in the refrigerator and in a cupboard or pantry
  • A weekly trip to the grocery store
  • Access to laundry facilities, including detergent etc.
  • Television privileges
  • Internet access
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off at an additional fee

The Homestay Student

Living in a homestay requires cooperation that involves some personal sacrifices. A homestay student is more like a family member, rather than a guest. As a result, homestay owners may have certain expectations from the student, such as:

  • Participating in family activities
  • Cleaning one’s room and bathroom
  • Keeping reasonable hours
  • Communicating with the family about one’s schedule
  • Occasionally helping with minor household chores
  • Not inviting guests without the family’s permission

Not every student is prepared to live in a homestay; however, with cooperation and respect, living in a homestay can become one of the most positive and memorable experiences in a student’s life.

What kind of student is best suited to live in a homestay?

A student who:

  • Is able to recognize that being in a homestay is a privilege
  • Is able to appreciate and enjoy different kinds of people and appreciate a family environment
  • Is willing to make an effort to communicate and cooperate with others
  • Will follow the rules and preference of the family
  • Is mature, stable, flexible, and good-natured


Many homestays are not close to the University of Delaware campus, so transportation and distance is often an issue for the students. Those homestays that are not within walking distance to the ELI (approximately 1 mile) will provide transportation to and from school but cannot always provide transportation when the student(s) needs it or desires it. Public transportation is available but limited.

If you think that a homestay is for you, please complete the Homestay Student Application. We will do our best effort to match you with the most suitable family available.

For questions or concerns please contact Nancy Purcell and Stacey Leonard, the ELI Homestay Team, at eli-homestay@udel.edu.

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