Hosting International Students – Why Would They Stay at Your Place

Our house is ridiculously quiet because both of our international students have travelled home for the holidays.  It takes a little getting used to living at a different pace.

The girls that we host add so much vibrancy and energy to our home and it feels strange to have an empty house.  Sundae, our Cocker Spaniel went into grief mode the moment she saw the suitcases being packed.

International Students leaving for the holidays
Sundae “Please don’t go”

Why Homestay?

Before they left, I asked the girls some questions about why they chose Homestay for themselves rather than sharing a home with friends or living in one of the University accommodation options.

Their answers surprised me because I thought that it would be way more appealing to stay with a bunch of friends with all the fun, independence and freedom that would offer a student.   The courage and thoughtfulness of the young women we have hosted is always very evident.  These are intelligent and resourceful girls who would all be quite capable of setting up their own apartments and navigating their own study journey but they choose homestay for some very specific reasons.

Five Main Reasons:

  1. I don’t want to be lonely
  2. I want to experience family life in Australia
  3. I want to learn more about the culture of Australia
  4. I want a mentor who will help me with my studies
  5. I want to feel safe and secure

Food and Menu Planning

Surprisingly, good food was not the first item on the list, and although not the number one priority, healthy fresh food is quite important.  I have  heard stories about students who have left homestay because the food was not nice or that the Host would not allow the student to cook any food at home.  The first student I hosted was the gorgeous Angela from Hong Kong.  I am sure that she should be a food blogger. Angela’s passion for cooking and creating good food meant that she was super involved in choosing recipe’s and helping to prepare meals. Angela took pictures of every meal she had in Australia.   Maria from Italy  absolutely loves to cook.  Maria’s father is a chef from Calabria so she grew up around the food industry.  Maria made the best Lasagna and pasta I have ever tasted and she whipped my kitchen into shape in no time!!
International Students and cooking
Maria from Calabria cooking up one of her signature Lasagna’s
Getting the menu sorted, organised and simplified has made meals easier for me and I have been working with my friend, Chef Anita, who has added some lovely, tasty recipe’s to the blog here.  Remember to join our email list so that you know when our ebook launches!
International students food
Our version of an Aussie Roast – includes Jeff’s Yorkshire Pudding

What We Offer International Students

As Homestay Hosts we offer a unique view into life in Australia. This is something that is of huge appeal to students.  For most international students, English is a second language, so the opportunity to spend time around an English speaking family is of  value.

Many students arrive in Australia and stay in their arranged Homestay for the first month and then choose to leave and go into share housing or make other arrangements.  Some institutions require that students have one month of Homestay booked in order to enrol.  Obviously, there will be some who leave simply because they were meeting that requirement rather than seeking out Homestay.  However some leave due to unmet expectations or disappointing experiences.

We provide our  new Homestay students with a list of Welcome notes so that they understand how our house operates.  Our aim is to make sure each guest feels confident and comfortable so we call them Welcome Notes rather than rules.

CLICK HERE to download our Welcome Notes sample

Hidden Content

Hosting is a surprising package and we provide something very unique to the students who decide to stay in Homestay.  They fill our home with fun and laughter.  We have the privilege of supporting young people as they discover their strengths and overcome challenges.

You can read more about our Homestay experience here.

For more information about becoming a Homestay Host you can contact Australian Homestay Network

Chicken Pie with Broccoli or How to Make an Easy Gougere

We are getting a bit fancy pants here with our Chicken Gougere and Broccoli Pie but stay with us because it’s really easy to whip up and it’s super delicious.

A Gougere in French cuisine is a baked savoury choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese.

Do  not be afraid of the words Choux or Pastry.  This is a breeze to make and deliciously light and tasty.   Chef Anita has created a simple, wholesome pie which everyone will love.

Serve as a light dinner dish with a big salad or as a delicious lunch with the ladies (add some white wine and you’re good to go!)

Best of all, you can use left over cooked chicken!

It’s easy to make the recipe in bigger batches – just change the number of people you want to serve and the quantities will automatically adjust – I know, genius!

Print Recipe
Chicken Gougere and Broccoli Pie
A delicious light pie using a combination of choux pastry and tasty chicken and cheese filling.
Chicken Gougere and Broccoli Pie
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Chicken Gougere and Broccoli Pie
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 190c.
  2. Blanch or steam the Broccoli and refresh in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
  3. Heat Milk in saucepan. Toss the cornflour and grated cheese together and then add to hot milk. Stir until it boils and thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Choux Pastry
  1. Make the choux pastry by heating the butter and water in a saucepan until it comes to the boil.
  2. Add the Plain Flour and continue stirring until the mixture forms a smooth ball and comes away from the sides of the saucepan. Remove from heat.
  3. Cool Slightly.
  4. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and shiny.
  5. Spread the Choux pastry evenly over the base of an ovenproof pie dish.
  6. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top is golden.
Assemble and Bake
  1. Layer the sliced chicken and broccoli onto the Choux pastry and then smooth over the cheese sauce.
  2. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the top is golden.
Recipe Notes

Chef Anita can't remember when she first baked this pie and believes it's a Flashback from the '70's.

Some tips from Anita:

You can substitute the Broccoli for Broccolini if you prefer.

You can add alternative vegetables to the pie (just remember to steam them first so that they are cooked)

Use Chicken breasts or any leftover cooked chicken.

Enjoy

Anita & Debra

*Chef Anita's recipe's are soon going to be available in an eBook.    Stay updated with the latest from Chef Anita and Simple Abundance by joining our email list.

 

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Mississippi Mudcake With Coffee and Whisky

This versatile Mudcake is Chef Anita‘s secret weapon and is the perfect go-to recipe when you need something sweet which is a little bit on the fancy side.

The Mississippi Mudcake with Coffee and Whisky is made from ingredients that you would have in the pantry.   Serve as an afternoon tea cake or transform it into a luxurious dessert or bite size squares suitable for a cocktail party.

No whisky – no problem, just substitute with Rum, Kahlua, Tia Maria or other liqueur you have on hand.

We hope you enjoy this delicious and very special mudcake.

Debra & Anita

 

Print Recipe
Mississippi Mudcake with Coffee and Whisky
A deliciously simple Mudcake suitable for afternoon tea, dessert or a cocktail dessert.
Mudcake
Course Cakes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Cakes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Mudcake
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to moderately low 150c.
  2. Prepare a rectangular cake tin by lining with non stick paper.
  3. Combine butter, dark chocolate, sugar, hot water, whisky and coffee in a large pot and slowly bring to the boil. Stir occasionally until melted. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. Sift flours and cocoa together and stir into the cooled mixture in the pot.
  5. Add the eggs and whisk well (by hand) to remove any lumps.
  6. Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 1 hour or until cooked. Cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out.
Recipe Notes

Cake will keep for several days stored in an airtight container.  Do not refrigerate.

Serving Suggestions:

Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares, triangles or finger pieces.

For dessert, serve with raspberry coulis or a mixed berry compote with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.

To serve as a cocktail dessert simply bake in a larger, more shallow baking tray until cooked (this will take less time).  Cut into bite sized pieces and decorate with buttercream and nuts.

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Coffee and a Chat with Priya Cooper – The Mindset of a Champion

Priya Cooper mindset of a champion
I had the opportunity to have a coffee and a chat with the inspirational Priya Cooper OAM.  Priya is one of Australia’s most celebrated swimmers.  She has won a total of 9 Gold Medals at three Paralympic Games and now runs her own inspirational speaking business with Rod, her husband. Armed with my list of many questions I enjoyed a coffee and a chat with this wonderful woman.
Priya Cooper, the mindset of a champion
Coffee and a Chat with Priya Cooper

Priya is very humble about her achievements and her contribution to Australian sport.   She brings a wealth of experience and an articulate voice to sport for people with disabilities.  Her achievements include 1999 Young Australian of the Year, competing in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and then in Sydney in 2000, an Order of Australia Medal.  Plus, she is the only person I know who has met the Queen!

Priya, tell us about your mindset and how you stay focused on achieving your goals?

Having stopped swimming and moving onto other things you still have that same mindset.  As an athlete you are actually quite selfish because everything is focused on you and everyone around you focuses on getting you to do your best.   When you move out of that arena you just put that thinking into other areas.  What I have learned about myself is that I can easily go into that obsessive thinking that “this is going to work at all cost” and I can forget about balance.  I realise that balance is really important for me and I want that in my life.  At school I always wanted to do well and please the teachers.  Although I had to work hard at school I really enjoyed it.  I used to love training too, even the pain and I loved setting little goals.  I feel that the difference in getting results is more about whether you are just showing up or whether you are constantly challenging yourself to improve.

When did you realise that you could compete as a swimmer?

From a very young age I wanted to be really good at something and my Mum always had a “can do” attitude. Mum taught me to focus on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do.  I wanted to do tap dancing, ballet and my dream was to be in the Johnny Young Talent Team.  I felt driven to find my special thing – I had to find something that I could be really good at.  I feel like I fell into swimming because that was something I could do well and be part of the school swimming squad. When I was first training I was only fourteen and the coach told me what to do and I just did it.  Being an athlete is the easiest job because you get told what to do and you just do it.  I wasn’t always in the wheelchair, that came later and I obviously had a natural ability to swim well but I definitely had an inner drive as well.

Tell us about challenges and how you overcome them.

My first challenge was being teased and realising I was different from other kids.  I was in year 9 when I started using the wheelchair and I was being coached by Frank Ponta and started playing Wheelchair Basketball. Although I felt that it was not my strongest sport, being tall helped and I did play at the state level.   The chair made it better for me to conserve my energy and getting around was a lot easier but it  did become very evident that I needed to choose between Swimming and Basketball. The wheelchair just became the way I got around and made it so much easier.  I have always had a positive attitude about my disability but the time I found really hard was when I had Olivia.  I had this baby, the chair, the pram and found it all incredibly difficult and felt quite overwhelmed.  Now I look back I wish I had just enjoyed that time more, that I had relaxed and enjoyed her instead of trying to do everything.  Another challenging time for me was about 9 months before the Sydney Games, I had a shoulder injury and had to have surgery on it.  I had moved away from home and was on my own and everything was going the wrong way. At that time, there was not a big focus on athletes mental health and I felt like I was just a machine and just needed to get fixed and back out there ready to compete in the Sydney Games.

If you become the Prime Minister of Australia what’s the first thing you will do.

 Strangely enough, I was recently approached to run for the seat of Joondalup.  I really, really considered it and my husband was encouraging me to take on the challenge.  I just felt that I would be stepping into another machine and I really want to keep a balanced life with my kids so I decided against it.

When I think about being Prime Minister, my mind goes straight to disability services and the difference I can make.  I have been called on by Government to put forward my opinion on what is needed in this sector and I feel that I offer more by contributing from an advisory capacity.

I feel I can make a bigger difference by not having an alliance to any particular political party.  If I was Prime Minister I would definitely focus on equality.  I see lots of homeless people and I would focus on making sure opportunities are available to everyone.

What boards are you currently on Priya?

 I am president of the WA Disabled Sports Association.  I am also on the board of The Ability Centre, formally known as The Cerebral Palsy Association. This is where we take our son Harry for services.  I feel I bring a lot to this board because of what I have experienced and now having Harry using their services I am able to give good feedback.

What would you describe as your highlight so far?

Having said that I found babies hard, I dreamed of being married and having kids and always wanted to be a Mum.  I have a really great husband (who even does the housework) and I have my two kids, a boy and a girl.  So I would have to say that my highlight would be having kids. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015 was a massive highlight.  It was Ricky Ponting, Casey Stoner and me!!!  I am also really grateful that I came into the sport when I did.  It’s so much more professional now and I could never achieve the times the girls are doing now.  I had raw talent but now the testing and training is so much more technical.

Your thoughts on body image.

 I spent my young life in sport being super conscious of my body not being “right” and now when I look back at photographs I wonder what I was thinking.  I went to a lovely school and the teachers were so good.  I really enjoyed school, it was a kind and loving experience for me. I am super conscious of making sure that my daughter has a positive attitude about her body.

How can we find out more about your Speaking Business and book you for speaking engagements?

 We believe that success really is a choice.  We have spoken at many major corporate and government conferences and events.  Rod is a dual Paralympian and is a business and life coach and a very motivating public speaker.  Rod’s story is unique and inspiring.   Our website is www.successisachoiceglobal.com and our email is prassociates@me.com

Priya Cooper
Priya Cooper and Rod Bonsack – Inspiring speakers (image Success is a Choice Global)
Having heard both Priya and Rod speak at events in Perth, I would highly recommend them.  They are both very compelling speakers who engage and inspire and leave everyone understanding the power of having a dream and the determination to achieve.
 
 

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One Pot Spicy Moroccan Lamb

Chef Anita has created a wholesome, winter warmer with Lamb.  The spices and orange make this a deliciously fragrant dish.

Being a one pot dish makes this a convenient menu addition and the fragrance while it is cooking has everyone’s mouth watering in anticipation.

Anita serves this dish with Cous Cous but it would be equally popular served with rice.

Instructions for Spicy Moroccan Lamb are for stovetop cooking but it can also be cooked in a slow cooker.

Chef Anita believes in simple, wholesome dishes which can be cooked from ingredients found in every kitchen.  Her mission is to bring everyone back to the table.  You can read more about Chef Anita here.

Print Recipe
Spicy Moroccan Lamb
A delicious one pot dish packed with flavour and the sweet tang of orange.
Spicy Moroccan Lamb
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Spicy Moroccan Lamb
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot and brown the meat in 2 batches quickly sealing the outside of the meat (2 batches to sear and not boil so your meat is tender)
  2. Add the diced onion and brown
  3. Add the Tomato Puree, drained chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, sultanas and beef stock
  4. Bring to the boil and lower the heat. Cover with the lid and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to bottom of the pot
  5. Once cooked, add Orange wedges, rind, mint and beans. Stir through and cook for a further 10 minutes until beans are cooked
  6. Serve with cous cous
Recipe Notes

This recipe is also suitable for cooking in a slow cooker.

You may like to thicken with 3 tsp cornflour blended with a little water.

 

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