Reasons why I should think about other ways of making money than having foreign students to stay again

Been thinking about ways of making money and wondered whether to start taking in students again.  We used to when we had a young family.  For some reason, though, they always went back to Italy/Spain/France after their two weeks with us feeling a little shaky.  The last Italian we hosted summed it up by saying: 'Italian families not like you English families.  Not like you at all,' before edging out of the door and heading back for Rome without looking back.

One day, we'd cooked a large shepherd's pie which we wanted to put in the fridge to save for the next day's tea.  So we put it in our bath to cool down, running some cold water for it to sit in to get it cooler more quickly.   We often did this.  The bathroom was right next to the kitchen, so it seemed like a handy little trick.

However, the Italian student came home from her day at college and said, 'Can I go in the bathroom to have a bath?'  'Yes, yes, of course,' we said, fetching her a towel.  Only, when she'd got in there, there was a pause, and then she reappeared.  'I have the problem,' she said, politely.  'I think the dinner is having the bath first.  Would you lika me wait?'

They obviously don't cool their bolognese like that in Italy.

Then there was the time my husband decided he would take a nap in the middle of the day.  No one else was in the house, and the other beds were all covered with everyone's stuff or not made, so he decided he would lie down on the student's bed.  Only, on the student's wall was a clock, and my husband can't stand ticking clocks.  So he took the clock down, looked around for somewhere to put it to muffle the sound, and decided to slide it into a pile of ironed clothes which I had put on the student's chair.  Then he had a nice little tick-free sleep.

Of course, he forgot to put the clock back and she must have gone to bed that night and put away her clothes, wondering what the hell was going on in this household.  It took quite a lot of explaining the next day to make it clear to the student that not all English families keep their clocks tucked into piles of laundry.

Magdalena's mother just couldn't understand why her daughter  wouldn't go near a pile of ironing
for years after her return from summer school in England

But what I'll remember most about her stay was that our son, who was about five then, was our main translator.  He'd perfected this Italian 'just-like-mamma-used-to-maka' accent and whenever we couldn't get the student to understand what we were saying, he just had to repeat it and she knew exactly.  She swore blind she didn't know what we meant when we said we were having 'tagliatelle' or 'ricotta cheese', no matter how much we said, 'But it's ITALian!  You must eat it all the time!'   She hadn't a clue what we were on about.

But as soon as our son said, 'They mean tagliaTELLe!', waving his arms around like he'd been born in Naples and weaned on pepperoni sausage, she said, 'Oh, I see!  Yes, of course.  TagliaTELLe!'

Once she told us she'd gone to the Megadonna and had really enjoyed it.  We thought it was a nightclub we hadn't heard of and we had a very confusing conversation about dancing.  Only our 5 year old realised she meant MacDonald's.  'Yes, yes!  Megadonna!' she cried, hugging him for being the only one to understand her.  'Where you hava the hamburger and you hava the meelk shake, not the dancing!'

Of course. Silly us.  The meelk shake, not the dancing.


  1. Are you sure you didn't have a hand in the scripts for Allo Allo?

  2. Ah, yes, we had many years of the old foreign student lark. In our case they were exchange students - so we had a better deal than you, in that we were able to ship one of ours off to, say, Marie-Helena's parents later. On one memorable occasion, we went to the school to collect the student and showed her her bedroom. A short while later she came downstairs and tried to tell us about 'ze cat and ze bed' - 'Ah, yes', we replied, gesturing, 'Just push it off'. But she insisted we came to see - which was just as well, as the cat had pooed on the bed.......

  3. Martin - ah, I wish I had.

    Vintage - that made me laugh. I had to get the husband in to read it, too.

  4. So you got paid for this? We did it once for a Japanese student but it was a volunteer gig. That's so funny about your 5 year old translating!

  5. How about taking in American tourists? Can I make a reservation for next September or October?

    Is there a family member who can translate English to American?

  6. Too funny.
    Somewhere she has written a parallel post in Italian.

  7. Megadonna? But I justa adore the Bigama! Plenty cheeza pleeza!

  8. No, perhaps you shouldn't have foreign students to stay . . . . unless you could borrow another five-year-old?

  9. I always liked the IDEA of taking in students, but in reality I'd probably hate it. It's hard enough having a husband and three children living under the same roof!

  10. All over Europe fabulous tales are circulating about life in England . Over the years I have wondered why people would ask weird questions about bathing arrangements and the aversion to mechanical devices .
    I used to think they'd read too many Tolkein books .
    Now I know ....

  11. Medical students. You'll never see them - they'll be so busy studying and dissecting cadavers.

  12. We had a Japanese student once who asked me if I "prayed the fruit". She mean't "played the flute" of course.

  13. We had two girls from what was East Germany for a week back in the early nineties. They were polite, thoughtful and considerate, and were genuinely interested in finding out about England and the English. Not sure what they made of us then.....

  14. Japanese students are the best. Quiet, smiling and supremely courteous. Mind you, perhaps it just wouldn't be fair.

  15. I've thoroughly enjoyed catching up with your blog but I'm not going to turn up your house posing as a foreign student('thank goodness for that', I hear you cry). You didn't live in Germany for a time, did you? Only your house is uncannily like the one I stayed in there.


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