Cultural DIfferences
The internet
Alcohol and Drugs

Cultural Differences

You will experience a culture shock. The degree to which you experience it will vary from person to person. Expect things to be different. Relationships in families may be different, food may be different, customs will be different. You will probably be tired and want to sleep more. This is normal and will get better.

Remember that your homestay family is just a normal family that have invited you to share in their life and home. Treat them with respect and behave in a manner that you would expect an international student to behave in your home.

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Homestay normally includes breakfast and dinner meals for everyday of the week and lunches in the weekends.

Breakfast is usually eaten between 7am and 8am. A New Zealand breakfast, usually consists of cereal (rice bubbles, Weet-Bix, cornflakes etc) and milk, toast/bread, and a drink of tea/coffee/Milo/milk or juice. Sometimes there is fresh or canned fruit and some families may occasionally, normally in weekends, have a cooked breakfast of eggs, sausages, tomato or similar. Breakfast is a very informal meal and everyone in the home will probably have their meals at different times because the morning is very busy. The homestay will show the student where the breakfast foods are kept and it is probable that students will make their own breakfasts. It is good manners to put the ingredients back and to clean up after you have finished breakfast.
The students are responsible to get their own lunch on weekdays, however it is the homestay host’s prerogative if they give the student lunch on weekdays. Lunches on the weekends can be very casual because everyone is more relaxed and have their own plans. Often no formal meal is prepared and family members may make their own lunch.
Evening dinner
Dinner, the main evening meal, is normally served between 6pm and 7:30pm. Most dinners consist of a main course and sometimes, dessert or ice cream. It is normal for the student to help clear the table and help with the dishwashing after the meal. Sometimes the family will have takeaway food on Friday night like MacDonald's, KFC, Pizza or Chinese takeaways. Where the takeaway food is replacing the normal meal the cost should be paid by the homestay. However if there are times when the student cannot be home for the meal and they eat outside the homestay this is at the students cost. It is very, very important that the student tells the family a long time in advance if they are not going to be home for any meal. For the dinner meal the student must tell the family at breakfast time. Do not tell the family 2 or 3 hours before the dinnertime as all the preparations for the meal are already underway.

In New Zealand like most western countries people use a knife and fork for eating main meals, and a spoon for soup or desserts. Never hold the plate to your mouth while eating and always eat with your mouth closed making as little noise as possible. It is considered bad manners to slurp or make any noise while eating or drinking.

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Donít be too long on the telephone, 5 Ė 10 minutes is a good guideline. Most families only have one phone line. Ask if you can use the phone. Do not make or receive calls after 9.30pm unless it is your parents.

Your homestay fee covers the cost of local calls. You do not need to pay a share of the rental for the existing phone. If you make Mobile or international phone calls then you need to pay for them. Your host family will receive a telephone bill once a month and they will show the calls you have made and it is up to you to pay for these calls immediately.

If you want your own telephone line then you must ask your host family first. You must pay for all costs associated with the installation of the line and rental.

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The Internet

Host families are not required to provide an internet service. Some families do not mind students using the internet in the home - provided it is used sensibly and not for downloading music or videos. If you have your own laptop, consider buying a device that will allow you access to the internet at your own expense. Click below on the links to view some options for Broadband.




BROADBAND Providers - a range of options, or

More Providers

If you are over 18, you may be able to have your own phone line into the host home. This will have to be discussed with the host. All internet costs to this line will be at your expense.

Many families are careful with the use of their computer because of viruses.

Do not spend too much time on the computer. Using the computer for more than two hours per day can affect your study and the host family will become concerned if you spend all your time in your room on the internet.

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Some hosts will be happy for you to invite your friends to stay or for a meal. Always ask first and plan ahead as the family may have made plans. Under no circumstances are girlfriends and boyfriends allowed to stay over.

If you have friends visit you always introduce them to the family as soon as they arrive. Some host families may not want you to have friends over when they are not home. This is normal and you must accept this. It is important that when you have your friends over you speak in English in front of the host family. It is considered rude as the family will feel left out of the conversation.

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Your host family may give you a key to the house. Look after it. Make sure you lock the door if you are the last to leave and arrive home. If the home has a burglar alarm your host parents will show you how to use it. Do not give the code to anybody else. Make sure the alarm is always set, and all the windows are closed if you are the last one to leave the house. Never give your key to anyone else.


Smoking is not allowed inside the house unless your host family smokes inside. If you smoke please be considerate and smoke outside, away from doors and windows. Donít leave your cigarette butts lying on the ground, put them in a separate bag and ask your host where to put them. New Zealand law does not allow smoking in offices, shops, buses or trains. Most restaurants and cafes have a special area for smoking.

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Alcohol & Drugs

All Drugs are illegal in New Zealand. You will be deported if any drugs are found in your possession. Medicines and prescription drugs must have a prescription from a doctor.

It is illegal for people under the age of 18 years to consume alcohol. If you are going to drink alcohol in the homestay ask your host first for permission to drink in the home, it is good manners to offer the host a drink. Do not drink alcohol in your room.

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