Business student Khadija Khalid.Business student Khadija Khalid is hoping to experience a Canadian home during the holidays.

Overseas students seeking to experience local flavours

International students may not be able to get home for the holidays, but they can get to a home.

The Host for the Holidays program matches students from many lands with local families willing to open their homes for a dinner during Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day or other winter solstice celebration.

Organizer Brunilda Gjini says participants at Thanksgiving were very enthusiastic about their experiences.

“We had a lot of students who said this was the first time they felt like home,” she says.

Khadija Khalid, who began studies at the Odette School of Business in September 2014, says she has not yet learned much about Canadian culture. A native of Pakistan, she says most of her friends are also international students.

“I haven’t met many Canadians. I don’t know why,” she says. “I plan on getting to know Canadians and their culture.”

She is hoping to join a local family for a home-cooked meal, as a change from a diet that consists largely of pasta.

“We are here far from our family, and don’t have time to prepare healthy foods,” Khalid says. “I would like to try some different foods that Canadians eat.”

The program is now accepting applications from prospective hosts. Organizers will match hosts with guests based on a number of factors—dietary preferences, tolerance for pets, timing of the meal, and even convenience of transportation. Find more information, including online applications, on the program website,