Saudi Arabia: Home Stay and Message to the Saudi Student

Homestay Outdoors


The largest numbers ever of Saudi students are studying outside of the Kingdom at Universities around the world.  The students (and their spouse when applicable) receive not only funds for their tuition and books but they also receive a generous stipend which covers accommodations, cost of living and transport.  Some students choose to have their own apartment or rent a house, especially if they are married.  Others may choose to have a room in a “Home Stay.”

Saudi students come initially to the host country for English language training and post-secondary education.  They usually understand the English language better than they speak it.  Homestay offers the students an excellent opportunity to develop and practice their conversational skills, as well as to experience the culture of the host country in a friendly family setting.

Host families are expected to provide the students with reasonable daily requirements.  Each student should have a private room with adequate furnishings.  He/she should be treated as a member of the family, sharing meals and participating in the family’s routine and social activities.  The student should have reasonable access to all the household facilities.

In other words, the Saudi student is taken into the HOME of a family in the country where they have chosen to study.  This family opens up not only the doors of their home to the student but allows the student to enter into their life as well.  This is an HONOR and PRIVELEDGE to the student and an enriching experience providing insights into the host country that a student would not otherwise receive.  Most host families will do everything in their capacity to make the Saudi student feel welcomed.  It’s not unusual for a host family to have a prayer rug and Quran in the student’s room.  The host family usually wants to and is strongly encouraged to also learn about the customs and traditions of Saudi Arabia from the student.  It is an excellent exchange opportunity.

However, it is also expected that the student will abide by any house rules that his or her host have set in place.  The student is also expected to be mannerly, clean and polite.  The Saudi student needs to view their home stay as if they are staying with family and always show the family proper respect and courtesy.

Due to the increased number of Saudi students abroad and those who are utilizing a home stay option, there have been increased complaints about the attitude and manners of some Saudi students.

It is expected that home stay students will be responsible for the cleanliness of their room and wash room.  They may be asked to help out with setting or clearing the table or even doing dishes.  If they do their own cooking outside of family meal times, they are expected to clean up after themselves and leave the kitchen as it was before they prepared their meal.  If meals are usually eaten with the family, the student is expected to let the family know when he or she will be absent or late.  If a curfew is set, the student is to abide it.  A student should not have friends over and especially late at night without clearing it first with the home stay host.

Thompson Rivers University in Canada, which has Saudi students among their international students, has an excellent manual for the home stay host and the home stay student.  Australia hosts many Saudi students in home stays and compiled extensive findings from both the hosts and students to further improve home stay experiences.

Saudi students who disrespect their home stay family and disregard the house rules are creating a bad reputation and jeopardizing opportunities for future Saudi students to have a home stay experience.


30 Responses

  1. It’s interesting how the findings mentioned in this article state that one clear issue about hosting Saudi students is “lack of respect for women” as well as “hygiene” and the “servant expectation”. You may excuse yourself with the explanation that your country is “relatively new” and your people are “still learning about the world” all you want, but you have no excuse for being dirty and treating your hosts as your servants in Saudi Arabia.

    As for the lack of respect for women, if they don’t know how to treat the women from another culture, why don’t they try to treat them the way you would want your mother and sisters to be treated? That’s common sense but let’s not forget that Saudis have one set of rules for their own women and another set of rules for non-Saudi women, no matter how much they cite the “kindness” of their Quran. It’s obvious that they don’t practice what they preach and there’s always discrepancy between what their Quran supposedly says and what they do in reality.

    The remark on page 5 (“lack of respect for women”) is totally interesting to me as the hosts probably have no idea how the Saudi students treat women outside their home, so I take it that they showed disrespect to the women from the family that were kind and generous enough to give them home during their stay. That makes the lack of respect a double offence in my eyes. However, if you think about it, everybody who has ever had the chance to deal with Arabs knows that they have a very strong sense of self-entitlement even when they know that you owe them nothing.

  2. interesting info

  3. @Reality Check,
    Please keep in mind that gender roles are different. Although it may not be true for all families or countries in the region, many Arab families expect the woman to take care of the home and the man to work. Therefore, a male Saudi student may not be used to cleaning up after himself because the women in his family do it. Where the men may understand that they have to do the laundry themselves when living in the dorms, they may revert back to what they perceive as normal family roles (according to their culture) when living with an American family.

    Perhaps the best way to help them adjust is to teach them how to clean up after themselves and explain expectations right away by having a meeting with the whole homestay family and explaining expectations at the beginning so there isn’t any confusion. Every homestay family will have slightly different expectations as not all American homes are the same. Even when I had American roommates, there were issues with certain ones cleaning up after themselves because they were never taught by their parents to take care of themselves.

    This type of behavior isn’t just limited to Saudi or Arab culture; countries such as Nigeria and South Korea (among others) can also be included.

  4. Just to add, I actually had more issues from my Chinese flatmates than my Saudi flatmate when it came to cleaning up after themselves. Since there is the one child law there, many of the children were spoiled to the point that they never understood basic housekeeping, and when they went away to university, it showed. (Notice I said many and not all.) I don’t even want to talk about the mess they left me to clean up in the common area when it was time to move out (or the pile of garbage they left behind, half of which could have been recycled), although I did get offered a housekeeping position by the staff at the university. 😀

  5. During my stay in America I never did any kind of cleaning, that’s why there are maids! and if I got any American girlfriend spend the night which it was quite often, they would the cleaning for me. After all these girls just for fun and cleaning.

  6. Bassim,

    I hope Carol never removes your comment, so that the entire world comes here over and over again to see the shining example of disgusting cynicism radiating from your post. “After all, these girls just for fun and cheating?” And what are you for? Just for using people and laughing disrespectfully at them behind their backs? I can only imagine what your accommodation looked like without another person’s intervention.

    So rather than taking a vacuum cleaner and cleaning your room, you’d lie to an American girl – any girl – that you are in love with her, so that you get her in the mood to clean around, while the only thought on your mind is that she’s nothing but a one-time maid?

    Thank you for confirming my point – and my point is that this is what happens when the parents of people like you raise them to feel superior to others: you grow no spine and develop no coping skills, and you have an extended adolescence. Later, when life sets in and the people like you go abroad, they are terribly surprised that the world isn’t willing to act as their “maid”.

    Shame on the Arab men like you, who used words of love simply because they wanted someone to look after them and do the maid’s work! I won’t be surprised if some foreign women were sweet-talked into marrying temporary residents like you without having any idea that their only purpose was to be used for cleaning and sex and laughed at behind their backs!

    No wonder that the best life you’ll ever have is in Saudi Arabia or its likes only – no other country in the world will ever feel like it owes you anything.

  7. Instead of wait until the student is already in the states to teach him how to clean up after himself etc…why not make it part of the scholarship process to learn about your host country’s expectations and culture before going there? Sort of like Saudis insist foreigners do before going to Saudi. Learn the culture…follow the rules…or leave. Simple enough.

  8. @RC,

    Bassim is a troll. His comment is just made up stuff from his imagination. He is more likely a sexually oppressed dreamer than the playboy with a haram of vacuum cleaner wielding women.

    Do not feed the troll!!!

  9. Hey, MoQ, thank you for the heads-up! I had no idea.

    Best regards,


  10. Whether Bassam is a troll or not, I can assure you that individuals from the Ministry of Education and other Saudi officials do read this blog.

  11. I am thankful to find this blog. I have worked with Saudi students and did get to know one man who used, cheated on and lied to me. He was the most disrespectful man I have had the misfortune to meet. I am a single parent and rarely drink alcohol. I assumed being muslim, that he would not be the type of irresponsible idiot that drinks earnings and hangs out in clubs. Was I wrong… So charming in the beginning and wanting to develop his English language ability. That soon changed to leaving me out of any invitation to socialise with his friends. All except one were the heaviest drinkers of alcohol I have ever met. His brother drank a bottle of scotch every second day. What was hurtful was his initial interest in my child was soon forgotten. Not even one toy or walk to the playground with my son and there were absolutely no gifts for me. He bought everything for himself and turned up at my house in the early hours of the morning, even when I asked him not to. Most of the time drunk. He was in a fight at a hotel and arrested and his friends would be involved in fights in the city nightclubs regularly on weekends. I could not believe how disrespectful he and his friends were. To add to that he commented that Australian girls were dirty. His degrading comments were the opposite of kind. It is good to know that people from The Ministry of Education read this blog because due to my experience I want nothing to do with Saudi Arabian men. I grew up in the Australian desert and wrongly assumed that desert people have good hearts. Wrong.
    These men need not come to Australia. They do not want to get to know people and think they are better than every one else. Spoilt brats. Stay in KSA.

  12. To add to my previous comment. The men had absolutely no class. and usually lust after young teenage girls.

  13. Girls were a sport for some of them. Playing around and being emotionally reckless is the norm. They do not know what to do with a real woman.

  14. Kel,

    Thank you for your honest account of Saudi Arabian men. I have a first-hand experience of that area, as well, and I can confirm that most Arab men are disrespectful to women, especially when the latter come from foreign countries. I have met only a few exceptions to this rule, so the hypocritical answer that “There are good and bad people everywhere” simply doesn’t work for me. In the Middle East, men (and people in general) are decidedly worse than the rest of the world and truly honest and respectful people are very hard to find. I have never been able to explain to myself why they have such a sense of superiority because most of them are much stupider than us, narrow-minded and incapable of living a life beyond their horrible assumptions about the people from other cultures. Also, money is their true God – they believe that everybody is ruled by money and every foreigner will give up his dignity and self-respect for their handouts. You can tell the quality of a certain religion by the fruit it bears and the fruit born by this particular religion (Islam) is horrible to look at. If the religion is so wonderful, why are most of its people so nasty, bad-mannered, uncharitable and devoid of respect of others? I have had Muslim men ask me “Can I kiss you?” or “Can I touch your hair?” after knowing me for only 5 minutes and when I shouted “Certainly not!”, they got angry and annoyed saying: “What’s the problem? You are European, aren’t you?” They think all of us are complete whores who don’t mind to be touched by complete strangers – but just try to do the same to their women and they’ll kill you on the spot! They do understand why this is disrespectful to their own women but they don’t understand why it is disrespectful to us. This is the psychology of people who regard the women from other cultures as wild animals hunted for sport. For the last 12 years, I have been happy to think every day of my life that I’m not in their world anymore – this alone is enough to guarantee you happiness for the rest of your life. Muslims ate a source of misery wherever they are but, most of all, they are a source of misery in their world, which makes them feel strong and at home.

    Kind regards

  15. @RC,
    First of all, I find your comment, “money is their true God” offensive as my husband is Arab and that comment couldn’t be further from the truth. And yes, he’s Muslim. His family accepted me whole-heartedly and I couldn’t ask for a better group of in-laws.

    Secondly, I don’t think Arab men are worse than men elsewhere, but I do think that there are some major cultural misconception in both directions. FIrst off, unless Arab men have been conditioned otherwise, they believe that the west is free and “people make sex in the streets” if they desire. In the opposite direction, people in the west view Arab women as having no freedom to work, etc. However, legislation is not the same in all Arab countries and there are varying degrees of freedom among countries, and also within tribes and families.

    As for your comments about Muslims, the ones that I know that truly believe and live according to their beliefs, while picky about certain lifestyle habits, are some of the sweetest, caring people you can meet. I think the fruit has more to do with who you choose to hang around.

    “They have such a sense of superiority because most of them are much stupider than us, narrow-minded and incapable of living a life beyond their horrible assumptions about the people from other cultures”- I think that if this statement was shown around Europe and a poll was taken about which country this was about, a lot of the European countries would say “America”. Just saying that it could go both ways and this is a bit of a generic statement to make.

    I don’t mind if you have your opinion, but your statements are bordering on racism and prejudice. Do you know how many times I have to deal with racism in the US because I’m married to an Arab?! After a while, someone of Hispanic ethnicity asked my husband how he married me because “AMERICAN people are racist!” Please don’t be part of the hate against another race/ethnic grouping of people. I have zero tolerance for racism.

  16. StrangeOne,

    I have several points to make about what you said:

    Yes, money is their true God because I was constantly told by many seemingly decent Arab men to find a boyfriend if my salary was too small due to my nationality. In reality they were inviting me to prostitute myself and that wasn’t seen as an insult. I am sure that if anyone suggested the same to an Arab Muslim woman, they would hit the roof – but since I am European, that wasn’t seen as very bad.

    Just because you married a purportedly good man doesn’t mean that the group of people he belongs to is good.

    Just because you couldn’t have a better group of Arab Muslim in-laws doesn’t mean that all Arab Muslims are good.

    Well, thank you for admitting that “unless Arab men have been conditioned otherwise, they believe that the west is free and “people make sex in the streets” if they desire”. You know VERY WELL that NO Arab man has been conditioned otherwise, so YES, they ALL believe we are animals who have sex everywhere on request. Do you know how insulting it is to meet an Arab man who makes it clear that he thinks you should remove your clothes as soon as he says so?

    Muslims are the sweetest and caring people to EACH OTHER, not to foreigners or people from other religions. With others, they keep themselves to themselves unless they think you might be good sex.

    I have been accused of racism and prejudice so many times simply because I stated undeniable facts that I don’t care anymore. For the record, I lived in the Persian Gulf for TWO YEARS without the protection of my family and friends and I am stating ONLY FACTS. You can be prejudiced if you never were there to begin with because “prejudice” is an attitude you have without experience, but I WAS there and I AM speaking from experience. More than one experience. Many, many, many bad experiences. This is not just “one negative experience” as you, Arab apologists, like to put it!

    I am sorry that you had to deal with racism in the United States just because you are married to an Arab but then Arabs are not exactly the innocent recipients of what many choose to see as unjustified abuse. Many bad things done to the Western world have been done by Arabs over the last decade (9/11 and other terrorist acts come to mind) and the Arabs as a whole are paying for the actions of people from their own community.

    Do you know how many times I had to deal with the Arab racism in the Gulf? I was told that I would receive a very good salary ONLY TO arrive and find out that my salary was not enough to allow me to go out of the company compound and ONLY TO be told that if I couldn’t send money to my family on this salary, I “should find a boyfriend” and “everything will be fine”. You have no idea how many times I felt personally violated by the very suggestion that I would have no problem removing my clothes and earning some cash to help my family. I have two university degrees from a European university and I didn’t study so hard to be treated as a prostitute by people who have less brain, less humanity and less value than the dirt under my shoes.

    That is far more disgusting than all the suspicion that Americans treat you with – and I’m sorry to say this but you have only yourself to blame. You married a man from a backward culture known for violent propensities and disrespect to other cultures. The Americans you met have every right to doubt your intelligence and integrity – if the history and psychology of your husband’s community did not bother you, how can they trust you? I wouldn’t, either! You thought you could isolate your man from his context but sorry, my dear, all things in the world DO have a context – and I truly hope the context doesn’t catch up with you some day and make you feel sorry for ignoring it. Or maybe it should, so that your eyes open for the bigger picture out there.

    Arabs are animals – simple-minded, anti-intellectual and too culturally challenged to be good long-term friends or even good allies. I don’t wish them on anyone because their “kindness” and “sweetness” do not extend beyond their immediate circle and is purely superficial outside. You think you know the real Arabs better than those who suffered from their prejudice, but you are an insider now and they treat you as one of their own and you will never be in the position to suffer like all the single foreign women who want to help their families or sponsor their future by working in the Gulf.

    I hope my points make some sense to you but even if they don’t, I am sure they will make a lot of sense to the more reasonable people who visit this blog and need to know the truth beyond political correctness. Your post is nothing but political correctness and mine is sheer experience from beginning to end.


  17. RC,
    Once again, I say your comments are racist.

    I had many Arab Muslim men that were my close friends and went out of their way to protect me. They were always respectful of me. This was in England. One probably would have offered me marriage if I had viewed him as more than a close brother. I have never claimed to be “Muslim”, although I have claimed to be of those that have a religious book. (I’m complicated, what can I say?) I married my husband because we fell in love even though it was truly unexpected for both of us. I thank God, the Creator, or whoever brought us together because we are a great match. Most Arab AND Muslim people condemned the 9/11 attacks and viewed the attackers as terrorists.

    I don’t have “myself to blame” for racism that is apparent in the US because I’m not racist. I fell in love with a man for who he is irrespective of nationality, race, etc. In fact, at the time I didn’t want to date an Arab Muslim because I was familiar with the differences in culture and knew that there would most likely be some arguments over various issues, such as views on modesty. However, I have never met a person with a purer heart.

    Would you say that Carol was wrong to marry her Saudi? Would you say that homosexuals are responsible for the hate crimes against them because they “chose” to fall in love with someone of the same gender? Really take the time to think about the hate you send out into the universe.

    I’m sorry you had to endure racism abroad. Not all Arab countries are the same, however. Please put your feelings aside for a moment and try to view your life from an outsider’s perspective.

    I was almost raped by a darker-skinned classmate of mine. Does that mean I should reinforce the stereotype that black people are troublemakers and up to no good? Also, I knew someone who got knifed and mugged by a black person. And there was a black person who asked a friend of mine for drugs (in different countries). I haven’t heard any stories of this happening to one of them by someone of a different skin color, at least not yet. Should I view these all as unrelated coincidences? Or “proof” that black people are all evil? According to your logic, I would have every right to view black people as evil and up to no good troublemakers who should be hated on. Seriously, woman, think with your heart AND your head.

    And for the record, I have nothing against black, red, yellow, white, orange, purple aliens from other galaxies, etc. I’m just making a point.

  18. I am a Homestay International parent. Just this summer we hosted a teen from Medina. We also have several good family friends, former Homestay students, with whom we are quite close, and through them a couple dozen of their friends and cousins. In fact we now Skype with their families in the KSA, even when the students are here. And we are now hosting younger siblings from the same families.

    The ones we’ve taken into our home (and my cousin’s family has taken into their home) have been excellent. They regard us as extended family, and treat us with respect, and behave well. In fact, after the first year in the U.S., most of them go home on summer break and then come back knowing how to cook a bunch of their favorite dishes.

    My “sons” have been great. We do know a couple of their cousins who have had problems with alcohol, which concerned the other cousins as well (so it was not the norm in this family). One of the cousins has my son and several other cousins jumping on his case for being promiscuous, and the lectures are having an effect. He never had a homestay. The ones lecturing him did.

    All of my homestay sons have come to me at one time or another to tell me various things they thought they knew about the U.S. but realized were different after they had lived with my cousin or I for awhile: we don’t keep pigs as pets. We don’t sleep with anyone, anywhere. Women can wear shorts and be chaste. Not everyone has tattoos. We don’t all blame the KSA for 9/11. A president isn’t a king. Americans aren’t all Christians. There is value in not giving children everything they ask for…and the list goes on.

    Both they and we have realized we have far more in common than is different between us.

    Finally, for those who are considering being host parents, if your student isn’t working out, you can always tell the coordinator. But first talk to your student, through an interpreter if they are a Level 1 or 2 ELS student, and give them a chance to try to fix the problem. My first “son” was able to straighten out our most recent student, a mid-teen who had never seen a girl outside his family before, on what his conduct to my similarly-aged daughter should be. “Saad” told “Hamza” to consider her as a sister, and conduct himself accordingly.

  19. Reality Check. I”ve lived in KSA nearly 20 years. You’re racist and wildly overgeneralizing to support your case. Strange One- I don’t think you’ll get anywhere with this one.

  20. Sandy, the fact that you preferred to live in a country which doesn’t accept the existence of any religion except Islam FOR 20 YEARS (WOW!) tells us everything that we need to know about you.

    How many Christian churches did you see in KSA? How many Christians were allowed to wear the cross? How many were allowed to own a Bible? How many are allowed to visit Mecca? I have read a lot about KSA and I know that even the US embassy does everything to help the Saudis in their suppression of Christianity by destroying Christmas cards and postal stamps with Christian images.


    Recently a Saudi cleric issued a fatwa permitting the Syrian rebels to rape captive Syrian women – and there are many like him in the country you love so much. How can you even like the idea of living in KSA?


    It’s obvious that you didn’t bother to read my posts at all because I told in detail about my experiences as a woman in the Middle East. If you read them and felt nothing, you are no woman at all – but that’s expected of someone who found the lack of religious freedom in KSA more attractive than the religious freedom of the West.

    I have NOT experienced even one day of sexual harassment since my return to Europe 12 years ago, so don’t give me the lame argument that “This happens everywhere”.

    You are right that Strange One will not get anywhere with me because brain-damaged people usually don’t get anywhere with me – and most women who are married to Muslims are brain-damaged as a rule or they’d never marry them in the first place.

  21. Sandy,

    You have lived in KSA for 20 whole years? WOW! What made you stay so long? You fell in love with the lack of religious tolerance or maybe that place gave you a structure and discipline you didn’t find in the West? You loved the fact that women are second-class citizens who can’t even drive and are for ever chaperoned by men because they are seen as half-witted creatures who should be monitored all the time because they can’t do anything for themselves?

    So … how does your 20-year stay in KSA prove me wrong? I typed a longer reply to your quick insult of yesterday but for some reason it was intercepted by the filter. I am not going to be long now but I just want to remind you that KSA is the same country where Christians can’t own a Bible, can’t wear the cross and can’t visit the Muslims’ holy sites whereas every Muslim living in our world is free to have a copy of his Holy Book, wear Muslim attire and visit the Christian sites we hold dear. Is this what you like about it – the hypocrisy? Is that why I’m a racist? If you see “racist” as synonymous with “someone telling an inconvenient truth”, I’d rather be a proud “racist” than meet your requirements for a “non-racist”.

    Ma salama,


  22. RC,
    No need to tell me anything about KSA. I likely know more about it than you do.

    And there was no insult. You yourself are doubling down on your remarks and said you’d rather be a “proud racist” than meet my requirements of a non-racist. You can see my requirement in Webster’s dictionary so if your a “proud” racist how is it insulting that I called you one?

    But no I do not think you’re a racist because you tell an inconvenient truth. Assuming everything you said is even true (I’ll assume they’re true for the sake of argument- though, you seem to have had an inordinate amount of bad experiences that seem unlikely)- I would say you’re a racist because you generalize some bad experiences you’ve had and conclude that they are universal traits of Arabs and say things like “Arabs are animals”. etc. etc. That’s why your a racist.

  23. And I likely know a little more than you about KSA because this is the same country where a Saudi preacher issued a fatwa in which he said that Syrian rebels were permitted to rape the nation’s women in Syria.

    Read this article carefully: several clerics are discussed but the Saudi is one of them.


    And you still love this country? If it has shown such splendid qualities, how come this preacher wasn’t instantly arrested and sent to jail for preaching violence against helpless, vulnerable women? He’s free, so I suppose the majority of Saudis (including the government of KSA) find such things normal.

    You draw your conclusions for yourself and don’t give me the lame argument that “sick people exist everywhere”. Nobody in the West has ever preached that rape of Syrian women is normal and nobody has recommended it as something that “can give each fighter a turn”.

    This happens mainly in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular. Draw your conclusions for yourself. You are brainwashed, though, so you will continue to deny this.

  24. And yes, I DID have an inordinate amount of bad experiences in the Gulf but I don’t expect any empathy from a spoilt indifferent Westerner like you. I hope in your next life you will be an Eastern European in the Gulf, so that you learn the hard way what I’m talking about.

  25. Well, you speculated a lot about my feelings, experience, and knowledge about and towards KSA. And you ranted some more. But at the end of the day you still sound like a racist- definitely towards Arabs and possibly towards non East European westerners as well.

    And really, you’ve given little evidence at all you know much about here at all.

  26. I live in California and have hosted international students in my home for four years, all men. I have had 26 students from 12 different nationalities. I have hosted six students from Saudi Arabia. The first student I hosted for a year and we had a good experience. He adjusted well to living in our home and studied hard to improve his English. When he arrived in our home he spoke Eenglish very well, but could not read or write in English. Turns out his family owned a house in Florida and he had grown up spending several months a year in the US, so he was familiar with Western culture. He would never eat our food, unless we ordered pizza, although he was required to pay for meals. I tried very hard to find foods that would appeal to him and tried to convince him to come to the new Middle Eastern market that opened near our home, but he preferred to eat out, mostly hamburgers. We got used to it and didn’t take it personally. We were very happy with our expereince and told the homestay organization we would be happy to host more students from Saudi Arabia. Well, we had five more students come and go and did not have a good experience with any of them. They would arrive with an entourage, usually other male family members, who would question me (interrogate) and proceed to tell me what accommodations I would need to make in order to host them. It got to the point where I would have my husband and adult son ( who lives near by) be there to welcome the students with me. It was interesting because although they would give me strict instructions about food and alcohol use in the home (we don’t drink), the students never ate meals with us. I am a good cook, and most students really love the food we eat. It turns out our last student didn’t feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with our other Japanese student so he was urinating in a bottle in his closet. When my husband asked him about this and requested that he stop this practice he moved out at 2am, in the middle of the night. Long story short, we had to tell the homestay organization that we would no longer accept placements of Saudi students. Other than our first Saudi student, I found that none of the other five students seemed at all interested in joining in a family experience, getting to know us, share with us about their culture, etc… I really felt they were just trying to save money. It seems that unless they are really interested in family life students should consider apartment living.

  27. I’m currently hosting a male student from Saudi Arabia for the second time. It was not an arrangement through an organization, I just posted a room rental on Craigslist as I live ½ mile from the English school where international students attend full time. I made it clear I wouldn’t include meals, but after he moved in he wanted to eat dinner with us and also was drinking my juice, milk, and making sandwiches for lunch but offered to pay extra for food. I agreed to only charge him for dinners as I work all day and not home to prepare lunch for him so I made him buy his own bread and lunch meat to prepare his own lunch. I also make him pay for his own food if we eat out as he never wants to eat alone and prefers to be part of the family. If I want to order a pepperoni pizza, he pays for his own individual pizza as he doesn’t eat pork. Me and my girls haven’t had issues with the previous and this student. We really like him but I had to work at getting him to adjust because he never says “thank you” or “yes please” when you offer something, so now he does as I keep reminding him that when people serve you food or offer you need to be polite. I also showed him how to wash the dishes, only what he uses, not after we eat dinner together…for example a bowl he uses for cereal, or a glass, mug, etc. I told him we don’t have maids in my house and I’m not a maid. He had a live in house keeper in Saudi Arabia who cleaned and cooked, so he is a bit spoiled. I made sure he learns to be independent like my girls, he even does his own laundry. Like I said, he wants to learn English and wants to make American friends and do everything we do as a family, although initially I only wanted a roommate it turned out to be more like a hosting arrangement. We go shopping together, etc. He is very cheap, so I had to be very straight forward with him about my expectations. My family is not religious, so we don’t pray before a meal so he was a bit surprised the first time we ate dinner together, but I’m not going to change my family to fit his tradition as he is the one that came to live with us. I told him he can feel free to pray if he wishes, we could even wait for him to be done before we eat, but he doesn’t want to. I think if you have a set of rules and everything up front, you can have a positive experience. He is the same age as my older daughter but super shy. It took 2 months before he felt comfortable talking with her. Now he even sends her text asking if she would like to eat lunch together, or go to the mall.

  28. Hello All,

    This is a most interesting blog. Thanks for all who shared their views. It is truly an experience to read.

    I wanted to share my thoughts as I was searching for sites on horror stories about hosting foreign students. I was under the impression the original purpose of this blog was for just that. So here I go….

    I have hosted foreign students for the past seven years from Brazil, Mexico, but primarily from Saudi Arabia and Syria. For the most part all my experiences have been favourable with the exception of the past two. I have to say the most rewarding experiences had been the initial years with two young Saudi men from Ryad who spoke very little english upon arrival. I have nothing but wonderful comments and smile as I write because of the strong relationships and extended relations with their families. My students from Brazil were brilliant as well; so kind and generous and giving of themselves. The young Mexican, too, was a wonderfully funny and open person who considered himself an extension to our family even after he returned to his native land. During the past four years, I have hosted six Saudi and one Syrian student. I fear it has been a most trying four years despite attempting to frame things positively and with humour. These “boys” ranging from 17 to 27 years of age had been the most uncaring, disrespectful, entitled, hateful, bigoted, racist, and ultra-religious personalities I have ever met. Don’t get me wrong, they each had a unique and positive side to them as individuals. We have all had lots of laughter and shared great and amusing stories. They spoke lovingly about their families and many relished me as a father-figure comparably with their own fathers. I can generally get past the personalities, but the behaviors had been another issue altogether.

    Let me say, these young men did not come from highly wealthy families like the first two Saudi men, not all had servants, they came from Jedda and other working-class regions of Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Sea. I should preface this by saying all students are given a thorough orientation to house and home and we would spend some time sitting and chatting daily about expectations reiterating those expectations for at least a week following all of our students arrivals. After settling, I began to notice small things like clothing strewn throughout their rooms, water dripping through the shower curtain which was not inside the bath tub, copious amounts of shaved hair inside and around the tub, toilet tissue with feces found in the bathroom garbage, and water splashed all over the sink and floor after a quick body clean. Fine…. a little re-education and things began to shift. Then began the late nights, loud and disrespectful banter, speaking only Arab and not allowing us in on their conversations, taking over the house late at night into the very early morning, constantly keeping lights on, taking multiple dishes and cups and glasses leaving them on the counters and in the sink only to find piles of dishes the next morning. Oh, yes, reminders after reminders, after reminders, to no avail. The English language schools were our allies as they would also reinforce the need to be respectful of their homestay. We forged a great alliance with one of their instructors who would visit the home from time to time and chat with us together again reinforcing manners and grace which always seemed to allude our students. One very blatant example of disrespect and entitlement came when we arrived home with guests expecting to prepare dinner for the guys. We arrived home to a houseful of Arab people eating, drinking, and behaving loudly. A full blown dinner party was taking place without permission of any kind what-so-ever. We simply turned around and left the house as a sign of respect to the students with every intent of speaking to this later in the evening. It wasn’t until the next day we were able to chat since I was too upset and angry to address this in a positive and meaningful manner. Of course I got an apology, but only because their instructor sternly spoke with them. It was then I suggested they move out into a place of their own to experience independent living and give rise to deal with economic issues and self-responsibility.

    Alright, so on come the next two young men. One from The same region as the previous group and another from Syria whom we had met previously. At the outset we experiences blatant issues of disregard for our lives; loud noises, extremely loud prayers performed by friends, friends and “cousins” visiting at 2,3 and 4 in the morning. many of whom were previously know to us. Dishes, dishes, dishes… Piled laundry, unkempt rooms and bathrooms. Shoes, shoes and more shoes, often piled three and four deep at the door. Leaving lights on throughout the entire home. Smoking in the garage knowing flamable liquids are present. Excessive and I do mean excessive amounts of colognes wafting through the house daily. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    I admit as with the last guys, I got a kick out of it at times as it partly emulated what my sons were like as teenagers. What came to a head with me was the blatant disregard for women, Asians, and East Indians. Yes, curteous reminders over and over to a point where we expressed our intolerance and suddenly became the “bad guys”. So, what better way to communicate my disappointment – raise the monthly fee to cover costs. As of yesterday, one of the students left in the middle of the night without any notice and did not pay any fee for the partial month resided here. The other young man, made it clear to me today, he feels he can do as he chooses in this country (Canada) and will not abide by any rule or law to which I responded very curtly, “there is the door. You can leave now and good luck.” He is leaving within the week.

    I could have gone into details about so many other incidents and events, but I have rattled on long enough. In closing, despite some good memories and previous experiences, it behooves me to say, I cannot now entertain the idea of hosting other Saudi students.

    Hosting foreign students is without doubt, delightful and rewarding in many ways for both us and the student themselves. It is, as evidenced above is always a learning experience. The bottom line; know your students, clearly express your expectations, set clear and distinct boundaries. Ask questions and be sure to allow the student to ask questions. Come to some compromise with a mutual understanding and an expected outcome. Sure, be flexible, but only to the extent you and the family are comfortable. Regularly invest time by checking in with the student and reinforce the boundaries. Work with allies (schools, homestay agencies, etc) who will support and if needed guide you. Above all, don’t do what we had and let it go on believing things will change. It is your home and these young men and women are guests who shall afford you respect.

    We hope to host new students in the upcoming months, but want to experience students from other countries other than the middle east. I may be writing again.

    Take care.

  29. It’s been a year since my last post and 3 students later I realized the only Saudi students I will host will be from Riyadh because I had such a wonderful experience, but I’m strict and straight forward so I have no issues adjusting them to my family style. They even enjoyed setting up the Xmas decoration last year and this year with the 19 year old female student. She even wore the Santa hat to put the Xmas tree decorations. I never had a Saudi student from a different city, only from Riyadh, but I can tell you from my neighbor’s experiences who hosted a bunch of boys from Jeddah..what a difference! They smoke, drink, disrespectful, etc. I always hear him complaining about every single boy he hosts. Maybe he’s not strict or who knows, but I never had issues with any of my boys from Riyadh. As a matter of fact, after they moved out to the city (one hour from my house) I invited them for Thanksgiving and now they are also coming for Xmas eve. They call me mom and I have helped them with whatever they need – from getting a driver’s license to finding a better English school. The school by my house is cheap and they all go there until the government grant kicks in (usually 6-7 months) then the Saudi government pays their tuition and expenses so they transfer to a better school. One of the boys that used to live with me is so helpful that when he’s at the store (like Costco or Target) he sends me a text asking if I need anything. The 19 yr old girl that is living with me now was very conservative when she moved in 3 months ago, covering her head in public etc. After a week living with me, I changed her  She never washed a dish in her life and I made sure she cleaned up after herself. Anything I tell her she is very good at doing. She even likes going to family events and no longer covers her head. She likes showing off her beautiful hair. She even wants to learn how to drive some day since women in Saudi can’t drive unless they go to the dessert. I’m going to keep hosting, but I will never accept students from other cities, only Riyadh. Even the students from Riyadh tell me how spoiled and rude people from Jeddah are. So if I had to recommend, be strict, set rules up front, don’t adjust to their way of living as they need to adjust to yours. I don’t make special meals, if they don’t want what I make, they can eat out. I’m not going to change my family situation for them. I don’t allow more than one student in my home at a time, so I wouldn’t have the problem of them speaking Arabic. Even when I’ve invited 3-4 at a time for Thanksgiving I made it clear that everyone speaks English because they came to learn English and they don’t need to speak Arabic. I’m a single mom with two girls at home but I’m very strict and nobody at my house gets away with not following house rules! I also don’t allow smokers in my house, even if they don’t smoke in house because they could still bring the smell in their clothing and transfer it to their beds and sofa. I never had that problem as none of the students from Riyadh I met smoke and definitely don’t drink either.

  30. Thanks Gaby for your comments. I am so glad to hear you had a similar experience with your students from Riyadh. I am sorry your neighbour had the experience as you documented. Send your neighbour a big hello from me and share my story so he doesn’t feel alone. I look forward to hearing from others.


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