Thank you all for coming to my talk this evening.
It’s nice to see so many people in the audience.
For those of you who don’t know very much about ‘Connection’, let me start by giving you some background information about it.
‘Connection’ is a British organisation that facilitates homestays all over the globe.
This organisation prides itself on matching tens of thousands of host families with guests every single year, allowing travellers to discover a country’s culture in a way like no other.
Homestays are ideal for both travellers and homeowners, enabling inter-cultural exchanges and the development of life-long friendships, while providing travellers with often discounted accommodation costs, and host families with a steady income from the comfort of their own homes.
The homestay experience is particularly popular with university exchange students looking for a more genuine insight into their country of choice, and an unrivalled opportunity to develop their language skills.
The homestay experience is truly unique and once-in- a-lifetime, and one that you will likely remember for the rest of your lives.
It is important to note, however, that some people will find it difficult to adapt to the new country, with many enduring what is known as ‘culture shock’.
Connection’s advice for those suffering from culture shock, is to go out and make as many friends as possible, no matter how difficult you may find it.
Friends are guaranteed to help you feel more integrated as part of the local society, and show you some great places to hang out.
At first, it might seem extremely challenging to overcome the language barrier between you and your host family; however, you will find that you quickly overcome this and develop a very close and almost familial relationship.
Many of our travellers have suggested that they have found discussing their hobbies and other interests with their host families is the best way to overcome any barriers, since you are more than likely to find something you share in common.
For example, you might find that you are both passionate about football, and end up playing in the local field every week.
One of our guests undertaking a homestay in a rural area of the UK told us that she and her host now take a Tai Chi class together upon a hilltop at sunrise, calling the experience ‘absolutely breathtaking’.
After the first few weeks, you will find your understanding of the people around you and their culture deepens by leaps and bounds, and you will soon become one of the locals. Our hosts, in over 140 countries, turn a location into a culture, time into experience and strangers into friends.
So how can you find out about applying for a homestay?
The best way would be to visit Connection’s website, www.connection.com, and contact one of their friendly advisors for more information.
Once you have confirmed your interest in the service, we would strongly advise that you remain in close contact with the registration office, which will send you several emails keeping you up-to-date with potential matches in your country of choice.
Once registered, Connection will require you to send various documents, and will act as an intermediary between you and the host family prior to final confirmation and payment.
During this stage, Connection will ask you to Q16 provide two photos, one for the host family, and the other for our own records.
Please ensure that you sign the back of each photo.
Due to the nature of the service Connection provides, security is an absolute must, and they will ask you to send in photocopies of your passport, birth certificate, and a bank statement as confirmation of your identity.
On receipt of these documents, the official process will begin and your bank account will be debited for the initial deposit of £200.
If you haven’t received any acknowledgement confirming receipt of these documents from us within seven working days, please contact
the main office.
As I mentioned before, due to the nature of the organisation, Connection operates a meticulous screening process, and applicants will undergo an interview in our head office in London, with exceptions made in extreme circumstances.
After your interview, it may take us several weeks to carry out the decision process, so please be patient with us.
If you would like a fast-track service, please indicate this on your application and we will notify you of the additional charges.
Finally, once we have come to a result about your application, you will receive a decision in the post.
If you do not receive an offer of placement, we will refund your deposit within 7 working days.