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Queen's University

Hosting An International Exchange Student - One Experience

In the fall of 2008 my wife, Fran, and I decided that we act as hosts for a foreign student coming to Queen's, and we have now done it twice. The job description is not very onerous: in our case we met the student's bus when it arrived in Kingston from the Toronto airport and provided him with a bed for the night.

The information provided to the student states that he/she should not expect to stay more than three nights with the host. Our first visitor, a young computer engineer from India, was doing his MBA at Manheim University in Germany. He was not able to move into his lodgings for about a week, and he offered to move out until that time, but we were happy to have him stay for that period. In return we got a daily briefing on what he was experiencing at Queen's. Our second visitor, an eighteen-year-old Australian doing an undergraduate Commerce degree at the University of Western Australia, found an unfurnished apartment the next day and only stayed with us one night. He "furnished" his apartment from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and shared it with a fellow Australian.

Although it wasn't in our job description, I spent the day following arrival showing our visitors the general layout of Kingston and helping them find a permanent place to stay. We found them interesting young people to talk to, and would have them around for dinner from time to time through the term.

If you would like to help out an international visitor, I suggest that you send a quick email to Hanna Stanbury to let her know if you are interested, letting her know the dates that you might be available to host an incoming student. She can be reached via email at: or via telephone 613-533-2604 Ext. 78733. 

I should add that I learned quite a bit about the difficulties that an international exchange student has in finding accommodation. Most people who rent to students want a twelve-month lease, and are not interested in someone who wants to rent for four months only. In addition, the rental rooms are usually completely devoid of furniture, and a short-term visitor would have no easy way of getting some, aside from buying something from a second hand store and trying to sell it back at the end of term.

If you have a spare bedroom it would be a great help to these international exchange students if you would consider renting it to them. The going rate for a furnished room appears to be around $450 a month, so this would not only give a student a good place to stay, but provide the host around $1,800 for the four month period of rental. Both our students arrived in late August or early September, and left Kingston well before Christmas (one to see his girlfriend and the other to snowboard at Whistler with friends).

Bob Crandall

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000