Homestay FAQ

Is an ACES homestay the best option for me?

Are you looking forward to practicing your English, engaging with your host, and understanding U.S. culture? If so, a homestay might be a good option for you! If you are looking for housing less than 30 minutes away from your school and it’s important to check out your room before moving in, the dorms or an apartment may be a better option.

What are the prerequisites for this program?

This program is open to students aged 18 and up who are enrolled at a Portland area college, university, or English language school. You should have basic English skills so you can have conversations with your host. You should also be interested in other cultures and ready to participate in your host’s everyday life (e.g household chores, grocery shopping, cooking meals, visiting friends and family). Being flexible about new experiences, foods, and ways of communicating is important, as well as having the maturity to travel independently and adapt to new situations.

Who should not apply for this program?

Students who are currently experiencing excessive behavior problems, drug or alcohol dependence or abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or other psychological disorders that might interfere with the program, or students who have experienced any of these issues within the past year should not apply. We also cannot accept students who have multiple requests for a specific kind of home, household members, or lifestyle. Students with life-threatening allergies, multiple allergies, or other special considerations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What does an average host family look like?

There is no average host. The Portland-metro area community is diverse and so are ACES hosts. The term “host” may mean two parents with children, single parents with children, couples without children, grandparents, same-sex couples, LGBTQ+ people, or single individuals. Hosts may be of any national, racial, or ethnic background and may or may not practice a religion. All hosts must speak English in their home. Per ACES’s non-discrimination policy, requests for a home with (or without) members of a specific race, ancestry, national origin, gender, age, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation cannot be considered. If you are not willing to accept this diversity in your homestay placement, please do not apply. Most American homes have pets, so a home without pets is only guaranteed to students with serious pet allergies.

How soon will I be able to move into my homestay?

It can take a few weeks to find a host. We will not be able to promise a homestay within a few days or even a week. The best thing to do is submit your completed application and let us know your preferred homestay start date. Extra fees apply for students who want a homestay as soon as possible.

When will I receive information about my host?

In most circumstances, you’ll receive your host’s information 1 to 2 weeks prior to your homestay start date. However, in some cases, it might be just a few days before you start.

Why does it take so long to get host information?

Most hosts lead busy lives. Many people like the idea of cultural exchange, but are hesitant to take the plunge. It takes time to find just the right host who is willing to open their home and share their daily lives with an international student. Students with pet allergies, or dietary restrictions, or who smoke sometimes make the search take longer. We don’t inform you of your placement until a host has been screened and all the details have been confirmed.

Regardless of when you receive your host’s information, you can be confident that the host has been screened, prepared, and is ready to receive you!

Can I choose my own host family?

No. ACES processes host applications and we will do our best to find a host that is a good match for you. The day that you move in will be the first time that you meet your host and see their home.

What is the host screening process like?

ACES staff networks to find hosts who are interested in including an international student in their household conversations and activities. We check references and visit hosts in their homes. Household members 18 and older submit criminal background checks. Some hosts have hosted more than once; for others, this will be their first hosting experience.

How are hosts prepared?

Hosts receive comprehensive orientation materials that include topics like: how to prepare for a student’s visit, how to help a student feel at home, warning signs of culture shock, what to do in case of emergency, etc. ACES staff is also available to answer any questions they have.

Will my host live within walking distance of my school?

No. Most hosts don’t live near campus. You will be placed in a homestay within 60 minutes of your school by public transportation. The average commute is 30-60 minutes, and we cannot guarantee a shorter commute.

Is transportation included in the homestay fees?

No. Students are responsible for their own transportation. Most schools offer discounted passes, so be sure to check with your school first.

What are my responsibilities before beginning my homestay?

You will need to submit your application and payments on time, be accepted to a Portland area college, university or English language school, obtain medical insurance valid in the USA, and prepare for the experience using the orientation materials we share with you. We also recommend you contact your host to thank them and introduce yourself as soon as possible after receiving their details.

What if I want to change my homestay?

This rarely happens. If you have a problem in your homestay, please speak with your contact at ACES. We will work together with you and your host to try to resolve any issues. We may ask your host and/or you to make some adjustments to improve the experience for everyone. If you are not prepared to discuss and try to resolve issues together with your host and staff, a homestay may not be the right choice for you. If the problem does not improve, we will talk with you about your options for changing hosts.

What is your cancellation policy?

ACES will refund students who have applied for the term program their 2-week cancellation fee if the student cancels more than 2-weeks before the planned start date. ACES will refund students on the monthly program their last 2-weeks deposit if they give ACES and their host 2-weeks notice before leaving the homestay. For all students, if you end the homestay early, ACES will refund unused homestay fees if the student has given ACES and their host at least 2-weeks notice.

Portland homestays