How to Apply

Margaret and Ozge’s story



I am one of HOST’s volunteer Regional Organisers. This means that some student applications are sent to me, and I find the best invitation for each of them with one of the 70 host families in Cornwall, where I live. My husband, David, and I have also been hosts to international students for many years.

The students we invite to our own home have to like dogs, because we have a large friendly one. A stay with us always involves walks by the sea, so I look for a student who seems to enjoy being out of doors exploring the countryside on foot.  We have a good piano, so someone who can play the piano is welcome to use it. Otherwise, we look for students who share our interests in books, film, languages, or (for David) the politics of the Middle East.

Ozge came to us for a few days a year ago, and this was a great bit of match-making! It was like having a lovely grand-daughter come for a visit, as we shared our lives, our interest in English Literature, and our enthusiasm for wandering around little shops and galleries, deciding what we would buy if we had any money!


I came from Turkey to take an MA in London. I wanted to have a HOST visit at Christmas, but then unexpectedly I needed to go home, so Margaret let me postpone until the spring. We exchanged several emails and photos before the visit, so I knew I was going to meet a friend when I got off the coach in Penzance.

I fell in love with their dog instantly! I slept really well in their house – it was so good to have a break from London and my work. Margaret took me to see an outdoor theatre by the sea – that was amazing. In fact, she showed me a lot of beautiful places, and we never stopped chatting. I cooked a Turkish dish for my hosts one evening and they enjoyed it.

I am back in my country now, but Margaret and I still write to each other, and I’m looking forward to seeing her again when I return to the UK for my PhD.

What happens on a HOST visit?

Every HOST visit is different. But there are some things which always happen:

  • Your hosts will meet you at their local railway or bus station.
  • You will have your own bedroom (unless you have agreed to share with another student).
  • You will eat meals with your host, provided by your host.
  • Your hosts will spend time chatting with you and will answer your questions about life in the UK.
  • Your hosts will be hoping to learn about life in your country and will be interested in you.
  • Your hosts will return you to the station at the end of your visit.

And some (perhaps all) of these things will happen:

  • Your hosts may take you out to see the area where they live (most hosts do this).
  • You may meet your hosts’ family or some of their friends.
  • You may be able to take part in the life of their local community, by attending an event with them.
  • Your hosts may have a special interest which they will share with you.
  • You may play cards or board games, especially at Christmas.
  • You may be invited to attend a church service.
  • Your hosts may be happy for you to cook a national dish for them, if you wish.
  • You may have the opportunity to do something you have never done before!


Before applying, please check if you have to pay an application fee, and read the information and advice in the boxes on this page.

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How will I be treated by my hosts?

Your hosts will treat you as a friend of the family. Everything will be informal and relaxed, and they will want you to feel comfortable and ‘at home’ with them. They will be pleased if you offer to help, because you are staying in a home, not a hotel. They want you to benefit from your stay, and they also want to enjoy your visit themselves.

Many hosts are disappointed when students spend too much time on their smartphones or ipads. They tell us, ‘We thought the student had come to spend time with us, but he spent most of the weekend on his phone.’ So, please note, this is not only impolite, it is a waste of your unique opportunity.

Where will the visit be?

HOST is about meeting people and learning about their way of life. It is not about being a tourist.

You tell us your travel budget and then we choose the region where your visit will be. We have hosts all over the country, but we do not have large numbers of hosts all in the same place.

You can tell us if you want to stay near your place of study (that means no more than about 2 hours on public transport).

Or you can tell us that you will go anywhere within your travel budget.

With HOST, you will meet lovely people, and you will discover interesting parts of the UK which you have never heard of before.

How is the visit arranged?

After we receive your application we will ask your university to confirm that you are a registered student.

Then we will send your application to one of our regional organisers (RO). Our ROs are unpaid volunteers who give their free time to find the best invitation for you. Please respond promptly to any message you receive from your RO – this person is there to help you.

Our ROs know all their hosts, and they know the home you are going to.

The RO will look for an invitation with a host in their region and will inform you as soon as an invitation is found.

When will the visit happen?

We need at least 3 weeks to process your application and find your invitation.

We ask you to give us at least 3 dates when you will be available for your visit. This is essential, so please do NOT give one valid date and 2 dates when you are not really free. And please inform us if your availability changes after you have applied.

Weekend visits normally start on Friday evening and finish on Sunday evening (2 nights). Day visits can be on Saturday or Sunday. Christmas visits are from 24-27 December (3 nights).

What happens after the visit?

After your visit, PLEASE call your host or send a message, to tell them that you appreciated their hospitality. It only takes a few minutes of your time but it makes a HUGE difference. Hosts whose students do not thank them after a visit sometimes stop giving us invitations, because they think their guests have not enjoyed the visit.

We will send you a feedback form to fill in. This is for us, not for your host. Please answer honestly, so we can improve our service if necessary.

The nice things you say and the photos you send us might be used in our publicity, with your permission.

Some students stay in contact with their hosts – you are very welcome to do that.

After your visit, you can apply for another one!

Please recommend HOST to your friends.

Contact us

Unit K106, The Biscuit Factory, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clements Road, Southwark, London, SE16 4DG


Tel: 0207739 6292


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