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GB Mag explains: How to meet some Brits

Richard Jinman

It isn't always easy for international students to meet the locals. This organisation will help you make a connection

GB Mag explains: How to meet some Brits
Tea for four ... Jim, Grace and Paul and Val Ryall at their home near Nowich

WHEN you come to the UK to study it isn’t always easy to meet the locals. There’s a temptation to hang out with people from your own country and forming relationships with the famously reserved Brits can be tricky.

That’s where HOST UK comes in. The British charity arranges for international students studying in the UK to spend a day, weekend or Christmas in a British home. The aim is to promote “international friendship and understanding”.

Chinese student Jingyi (Jim) Xie was studying for his MBA at the University of Leicester when he applied. HOST UK had been recommended to him by some friends from Taiwan.

“International students tend to study all day … and we don’t have a lot of opportunities to make contact with local people and understand local culture,” says Jim. “This was a great opportunity for me.”

After registering his details on the HOST UK website, Jim was contacted by retired couple Paul and Val Ryall who live in a village near the English city of Norwich. Jim and a friend, Grace, were invited to stay with the Ryalls for a weekend. Paul picked the couple up from the train station and showed them the local sights and attractions. They got a taste of life in an English village – the Ryalls live in an old cottage - and enjoyed some home cooked food including steak and chicken dishes.

“We ate dinner together and had afternoon tea in the garden,” says Jim. “Paul and his wife are very warm hearted and both of them work in charity organizations. I communicated with them a lot and told them about peoples’ lives in China.”

Since his visit, Jim has spoken to the Ryalls via email and has recommended the HOST scheme to several friends. “It’s very cool,” he says.

If you want to try the scheme the first thing to do is to visit the HOST UK website. Once you have entered your details your application will be approved by your university and sent to a regional organizer who will arrange your visit. When you apply you have to nominate at least three weekends when you’re free so HOST UK has the best chance of placing you. You can also apply with a friend (they also need to be an international student) or a partner.

There are a few tips to maximize your chances of getting an invitation:

  1. Provide as many dates when you’re available as possible
  2. Be willing to go anywhere in the UK!
  3. Reply to any correspondence quickly
  4. Be willing to go somewhere with pets as many hosts have cats, dogs or both.

For more information you can email HOST UK at or visit their Facebook page.

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