Meet the staff – Homestay Officer, Koko

You may have noticed a new face in the office, over the last few weeks. This is Kayoko (Koko) our new Homestay Officer.

Koko is taking over from Naomi, who sadly will be leaving Byron Bay next weekend to continue on her  travels. Koko has already settled in really well and we are enjoying her positivity and enthusiasm in the office.

We asked her a few questions to introduce herself:

  1. Where did you grow up?
    We moved a lot when I was little so, many places in Japan plus Brazil for couple of years when I was 7.

    2.   Which languages can you speak?

    Japanese and English.

    3.  Which countries have you visited?
    America, Brazil, Thailand, India, Laos, Malaysia, England, Greece, Mexico

4. What do you love the most about your job?
I’m still new, so my experiences are still quite limited, but my colleagues are all super nice and it’s wonderful.
Also all the students I’ve been meeting from all over the world are so gorgeous, fun, nice, and I’m loving them. There is a great fun vibe to the school, it is a great place to work:)

5.  What is your top English learning tip?
Get a boyfriend or girlfriend!  If not, homestay is a great way:)

6.   What have you always wanted to be?
Free!

7.  Where will we find you at 11pm on Saturday?

In my jammies about to go to bed.

8.  What about 8am on a Saturday?
Hopefully jogging up to the lighthouse.

9.   Tell us something not to miss out on in Byron Bay…
Whales! If you are visiting here during June – Nov, you can see many whales migrating up north  from the lighthouse walk; often mothers with their calves. It’s a great way to enjoy the beauty of Byron and spotting whales is so exciting. The best way to experience them is to go on the whale watching boat. You get to see them so close, and they are truly magical….

10.  Which is your favourite restaurant/cafe in Byron Bay?
Kinoko for very good sushi. Miss Margarita and Cyprus Tree are very good too. Cardamon Pod and Heart and Halo for good cheap hearty meals.

11.  What is your dream holiday destination?
There are so many…  All the beautiful places in the world

12. Tell us something we didn’t know…
Less is more.

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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing or Yoga in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Happy Student – Sakiko!

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Sakiko is 24 years old and she is from Kochi, a small town in rural Japan. She studied law at Kobe University and came straight to Australia after she graduated. She arrived in Byron Bay in June 2016 and has been at Lexis for an incredible here for 52 weeks! I interviewed Sakiko on her last day of school to find out about the remarkable year she has had.

Why did you choose Byron Bay?

While I was at University I was living in a big city, it was very crowded and busy for me. I wanted to live somewhere quiet and peaceful. My agent recommended Byron Bay to me and it is exactly what I wanted. Also I love yoga; I practised it in Japan for many years. Yoga is a big part of life in Byron, I practice yoga 3 or 4 times every week here.

Byron is a great place to come if you don’t know anybody. If you go to a big place it is hard to meet people but Byron is community so it is a good opportunity to speak with local people – it has a very friendly atmosphere here, everyone is happy to talk to you.

 

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What were your weaknesses in English before you came to Australia?

I found listening and speaking the most difficult – I think most Japanese have this problem. We don’t have speaking practise in class at school in Japan so I was not used to speaking. On my first day I couldn’t understand everything, even though everyone was speaking slowly, I just guessed what they were saying.  I did not feel ready to speak English yet, I’m afraid to make mistakes when I spoke. After 1 month and 2 months when I made a lot of friends from different places they really influenced me. Especially my Brazilian friends because I saw that they were not scared to make mistakes. I asked them once: ‘you don’t care about making mistakes?’ but they said ‘no I don’t care, I just speak.’ That was a really good lesson to learn.

 

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Tell me about your teachers and your classes.

I started in Intermediate class. I studied a lot of English to enter University, and my grammar was good. I have had so many great teachers. Paul is my favourite teacher because he is so interesting and he always makes us laugh. He taught me pronunciation, how English and Japanese are so different because of emphasis and intonation. It was very hard, I almost gave up, but he never gave up to teach me!

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One lesson we went to Byron Bay farmers market (we have this once a week in Byron, in the mornings, we can buy local products: fresh vegetables, fruits etc. It’s a great community atmosphere.) Here we interviewed the people working in the market. I was nervous but they are so kind to us, even though we were still learning. It was great because I often go to the farmers market but I don’t often have the chance to communicate with the producers about the local produce.

 

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What was your favourite activity?

Yoga was my favourite activity. Every Monday at school there is free yoga and I went every week for a year. I think I improved my yoga a lot. I also tried a lot of new activities, like surfing, skate boarding, slack-lining, cooking (we made koala cupcakes). They were very sweet for me but I enjoyed decorating them.

 

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Tell me about your accommodation.

My first 6 weeks I was in homestay accommodation, staying with Gill and John. They were so kind. I was nervous about living with them, but on my first day they took me around Byron Bay, to lots of places. We went up to the lighthouse and to different beaches. We had lots of BBQs at the house and we baked cookies.

Afterwards I find a share house on Gumtree. It takes my five minutes to get to school on foot. At the moment with 2 Australian people, this has helped me to learn English. My host is very kind and speaks slowly and explains what words mean to me and this really helped my English improve.

 

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What are your favourite things to do in Byron?

After I took a surf lesson, I decided to buy a surf board. During the Summer I surfed almost every day. It’s a good life, study and then go to surf. I think I got a bit better and I enjoyed it. I would meet up with my friends at the beach to surf.

 

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I also enjoy going up to lighthouse to see the sunrise. It is the most Easterly point of Australia and the view is amazing. The view always changes as the seasons change. One morning I met my friends at 4:30 am and we walked up in the dark and the stars were beautiful.

 

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I also love yoga here. It is very different to Japan, it seems more difficult and there is more variety of lessons. I can chose which I want to do depending on the condition of my body.

What is your most magical moment in Byron?

While I was doing the light house walk in the morning I saw whales and dolphins. One time I saw many dolphins very close to us on the walk. I was able to take this amazing picture:

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What is your advice for people who are thinking about enrolling at Lexis Byron Bay?

You should come here, all the teachers are very kind and there are good quality lessons that are interesting and never boring. It is a very small school here so it is easy for everyone to get to know each other. March was my favourite month, because it is not too hot but the Sun is still out and it is not so crowded here. Winter is also good here, the sky is clear and bright but it is not too hot, you can see beautiful sunrises!

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What are you going to do now?

I have 3 weeks holidays now before I move to Lexis Perth. Tomorrow I am going to travel in New Zealand for 1 week. After New Zealand my sister will come here to visit in Byron Bay. Then I am going to do the Gold Coast marathon with my sister. I have heard it is a good route, around the beach but very flat. It is going to be a very challenging event in my life but I like to try new challenges. I am a little but worried about that but also excited. I will study in Perth for 3 weeks and then go home back to Japan. When I go home I think I will look for a job. I would like to live one more year in Australia or New Zealand, I want more opportunity to use English and communicate with English speakers. In Japan I would love to do an international job that involves using English and possibly working with sports, for example I would love to have a job related to the Japanese Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

 Good luck with your marathon and your travels Sakiko, you will be missed here at Lexis Byron Bay!

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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Happy Student – Shogo!

18424485_1193577764104026_1473748627_nShogo is 21 and comes from Tokyo Japan. He arrived in Byron Bay in February. While studying Law in Tokyo, he decided to take a break and come to Australia! And we are so glad that he did. Shogo has been a delight to have at school – his smiling face has brought joy to all of us. We are so impressed at how much his confidence has improved since he arrived, from a shy and quiet student to a loud and confident one who has even done a spot of modelling since has been here! He studied at Lexis for 3 months and is now staying local, working in Byron so that he can stay here for another 4 months. I decided to interview Shogo to find out a bit more about his experience here!

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Why did you choose Byron Bay?

I chose to live in Australia for the weather; it is a hot country with beautiful beaches and beautiful people. Also the working holiday visa is much more convenient than visas for the USA or the UK. I chose Byron because I wanted to learn surfing and skateboarding. I have been to Sydney and Gold Coast before, but I thought that the experience there would be similar to Tokyo, busy cities with lots of other Japanese people. I wanted to live somewhere with not so many Japanese people so that I would speak English more.

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What were your weaknesses in English before you came to Australia?

Pronunciation and sentence construction skills. In Japan we learn only grammar and reading, so we can read difficult sentences for studying law etc, but we can’t speak English.  I think I have really improved in those areas since I have been studying here.

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Tell me about your teachers and your classes.

In Japan we only write notes in lessons, no speaking in class at all. We don’t play games or do group work. We just sit on our own and copy down what the teacher writes on the board. Japanese teachers can’t speak English, so they can’t speak to us in English. It is much better at Lexis. I started in Elementary class and graduated in the Intermediate class. I have had 4 teachers here: Georgia, Mel, Adrienne and Michelle. In their lessons we played games, we played a darts game to learn grammar where we had to scrunch paper up and throw it at the target. Talking with a partner is really good, for example every Monday we talk to our partner about what we did at the weekend, I really enjoyed that. We usually talk about our culture, for instance we eat raw fish in Japan, Brazilians play soccer every day, the Swiss eat lots of chocolate. We got to make sushi and eat chocolate and share and learn about other cultures. There are so many students from all round the world.

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What was your favourite activity?

My favourite activity was the slack lining. I had never tried this sport before, but the instructor says it’s good for your health and your mind because you walk along the rope and you need good form to walk and keep your balance.

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Tell me about your accommodation.

I lived in homestay with Yvonne for 3 months while I studied at Lexis. I really enjoyed it; she has 3 children, who are 1, 10 and 17. The youngest girl is a tomboy so every day she is running around the house and riding her bicycle. She always used to ask me to lift her up and she would jump on me, it was so cute. Living with an Australian family really helped me to improve my English, Yvonne really helped me and taught me how to speak English and now I can understand her even when she speaks fast. She taught me lots of slang and native language.

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Afterwards I moved into the onsite accommodation. It is very good because there are so many students in the accommodation who come from different countries and we cook every day together. I can try food from Brazil, Switzerland, and Spain. I want to work in a food company in Japan because I love food culture. Yesterday we made tempura and sushi for everyone and Bruno said he would cook Brazilian food for me too.

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What are your favourite things to do in Byron?

There are so many good beaches in Byron so we can go surfing every day, long boards and short boards. Byron is a small town so we can go anywhere by foot. In a bigger city we would have to be using train or bus but in Byron Bay everything is walking distance. It has good clubs and pubs and then you can walk home. There are so many hippies and tourists; life here is slow and relaxed. Quality of life here is very high I think.

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How difficult is it to get a job in Byron?

I think it is good to get a job, because every restaurant is so busy with tourists and they need lots of help. I have a job at the moment as a dish washer in a local restaurant. I did not want to work in a Japanese restaurant because maybe we would talk in Japanese. I came here to study English so I decided to only apply to local restaurants so that I would speak English all the time and continue to improve. In Lexis we have an English only policy, which is good for learning English. I wanted to continue this outside of school. I handed my resume out in Byron Bay and after 3 days I had a job offer!

What is your most magical moment in Byron?

When I go surfing I sometimes see dolphins, especially in Broken Head and sometimes at the pass. I really enjoyed the Sunday markets and the Easter markets too. I take pictures of Byron and send to my friends back in Japan, they are very jealous because when it is summer here it is winter Japan.

What is your advice for people who have enrolled/ are thinking about enrolling at Lexis Byron Bay?

You should come to Australia if you want to speak English more because in Japan you talk only Japanese. If you want to learn English in Japan it is very hard because we don’t talk English every day. When you study English every day for 2 hours, we talk English every day in Australia 12 or 13 hours with native speakers. I think Australia is a very good country, very good weather, kind people. If you want a vacation or a break you should go to Byron Bay!

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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Happy Student – Raphael!

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Raphael is from Bayonne in the South-West of France, he is 18 years old and he headed straight to Australia after finishing high school in France. He arrived in Byron Bay in November 2016 and stayed until March. He’s now headed to Bundaberg to do his farm work, so that he can save up for more travelling around Australia.  Raphael joined us an an intermediate speaker and on leaving he achieved an overall A in his Upper Intermediate class. Raphael is sorely missed here at Lexis. Who will DJ for our parties and BBQs now? I’m sure Cheeky Monkeys is missing its most regular customer too.

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Raphael has answered some questions for us about his time at Lexis.

 Why did you choose Byron Bay?

I remember the evening I spent with my mother in France, choosing the destination for my gap year. Originally, I decided the USA, but then I found a video about surfing in Australia – which made me fall in love with Byron Bay: the best place to surf in Australia! For me Byron is the perfect place for me: small, peaceful, joyful, good waves, no big buildings, but lots of bars to party all week!

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Raphael on his very first day of school

What were your weaknesses in English before you came to Australia?

My major weakness in English when I arrived here were – everything! English was my weakness. But more seriously – it was my ability to understand the first time what someone told me. I had to make them repeat 3 or 4 times. Now I can see how far my English has come. Now I can understand films without subtitles easily!

Tell me about your teachers and your classes.

All of the teachers I had at Lexis were lovely. They were truly knowledgeable and made learning fun. In intermediate I had Iruka, I spent many funny times in her class. Then I moved into Upper Intermediate with the lovely Elyse, who was awesome and then I had Kathleen and her amazing games! My most memorable lesson was with Elyse when we had to dress with newspapers (yes yes newspapers!) when we were learning vocabulary about fashion and clothing design. That was ridiculous but so funny! 😂

 What is it like living in our onsite Accommodation?

BBSA is now like my home. I met people from all around the world and I learnt about lots of different cultures. The best moments spent were the Christmas dinner, when we cooked Hamburgers, the sushi parties with the Japaneses people, the dinner tortillas with the Spanish guys, the spaghetti party with the Swiss people.Yes you’ve understood, all the best moments are around food! 😂

What were your favourite things to do in Byron? 

The best times were all the parties with my bro Tito [See last week’s happy student blog!]  and all the others who are like my international family, the days of hangovers when we were all regretting going out the night before. But the best activity was surfing by far. All the surf sessions spent with Hiro, Nil, Pol, Tito and all the others were the time of my life.

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What is your most magical moment in Byron?

I remember a time I was surfing at the Pass during sunset, catching one of the best waves I ever caught. The sun was going down in front of me, the reflection of the sun making the water yellow and orange, I’ll remember this all my life I think. I understood how peaceful life can be; in front of me, it was like the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen: a colorful sunset on the beach. At my right there were people taking pictures and I had a strange feeling that made me understand you have to enjoy the moment with your eyes rather through your phone.  Yes I know it sounds very philosophical, but for me happiness is about little things like this.

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What is your advice for people who are thinking about enrolling at Lexis Byron Bay?

My advice for people who are thinking about enrolling at Lexis Byron Bay is: Go for it!!! I am 100% sure you’ll not regret it, you will make so much progress with your English, furthermore, there are good activities everyday and lovely people to spend time with.

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Raphael graduating – how far he has come!

What does the future hold for you now? 

My plans after my farm work are to keep traveling around Australia, then Bali and maybe New Zealand, before coming back to France and going to university😭. Australia gave me the taste of travel, so I’d like to go in each country in Europe to keep discovering new cultures and people. I also want to go to Kenya and South America too! I want a life of adventure and travel, my nightmare is to be trapped in a routine with my job, Byron Bay has given me a taste of paradise and now I want to keep exploring.

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Raphael of to explore the world!

Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Happy Student – Tito!

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Tito is from Switzerland – the small village of Malvaglia. He arrived in Byron Bay 6 months ago and enrolled at Lexis, starting in the Upper Intermediate class. After several months studying General English, he went travelling round Australia in his van, with friends he had met at Lexis. He traveled down the East Coast, into the outback and finally to Sydney, before returning to Byron. He is now knuckling down to study for his Cambridge Advanced Qualification. Tito has become part of the furniture here at Lexis Byron Bay; you will often find him waxing his surfboard, skulking around reception looking for Tim Tams or involved in a heated table tennis match. Tito is a fantastic student and a pleasure to have at school, he is loved by fellow students and teachers alike.

I decided to interview Tito to find out a bit more about his experience here.

Why did you choose Byron Bay?

I chose Byron because I didn’t want to live in a big town with all the hustle and bustle – I wanted to live in a small town – here with the waves I can find peace, enjoying the sunny weather and the fresh sea air. I think I would to define Byron Bay as an open minded and multi-cultural place.

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What were your weaknesses in English before you came to Australia?

I was a little bit rusty in everything concerning grammar – for this reason it was essential to go on a formal English course. Being here for 6 months, using the language has become natural – I think it is a process which takes time, but you can really see your improvements by being fully immersed in a situation where the use of this language is required.

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Tell me about your teachers and your classes.

I have been enrolled in upper intermediate and then advanced, where I had the opportunity to meet the amazing teachers Claudia and Josie – Claudia is an extremely knowledgeable teacher and I liked her way of explaining a lot of grammar rules which before were difficult for me to understand. Whereas Josie is the most motivating teacher that I have ever had and it’s a great pleasure to learn such a challenging syllabus with a teacher who makes it seem so easy and enjoyable.

What is it like living in our onsite Accommodation?

It’s an extremely comfortable and familiar place to live – there is a very sociable environment, it is very easy to make friends and as soon as you arrive you become part of the onsite family. It is always possible to go out of your room and hang around in the common area, seeing all of your friends. Since my arrival I’ve met a lot of gregarious people with whom I have organised many dinners, for example the Easter Sunday dinner where almost all the residents (50 people) cooked delicious dishes to share in a friendly and pleasant environment. Many students from around the world made different dishes from their home countries. I made a pizza from scratch, inspired by my Swiss Italian heritage – so tasty.

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What is your favourite activity that we run here?

The most attractive activity is undoubtedly the table tennis tournament, where only the student with the best skills can win the title and of course the beer. It is always full of cheering crowds, the competition gets very heated. Romain is better than me, so he usually wins, but I win second place, which is also an impressive accolade. Don’t worry if you think you are not going to win, we will still share the beer with you!

What are your favourite things to do in Byron?

Most days I enjoy spending my time at the beach, surfing, sunbathing and playing beach games such as Frisbee and Volleyball. It is wonderful to live and study right on the beach. I will never forget the time when a dolphin passed right under my surfboard, what a breathtaking moment! I often see dolphins when surfing, during the Summer it is as common as seeing bushturkeys. You also can’t leave Byron without experiencing the nightlife of this delightful town; Sticky Wicket, Lala land, The Rails and of course Cheeky Monkey’s are all lovely pubs/clubs where you can meet local people and share drinks and great discussions with your friends. A warning though: Do not abuse alcohol; otherwise you will pay the consequences the next day at school!

 

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Happy Student – Tito! | Lexis | Byron Bay Blog
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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Paulo’s Homestay Experience

Paulo is from Germany and graduated from Lexis Byron Bay last week after seven weeks of studying English. During that time he lived in a homestay, which was a wonderfully positive experience for both him and the family he stayed with! After leaving, he sent this great photo collage to his homestay family to thank them for the experience and to share with future students staying with them. 🙂

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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

Looking for accommodation in Byron Bay?

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Are you looking for somewhere to live in Byron Bay? It can be very tough finding the right place at the right price because so many other people want to live in the paradise of Byron Bay, especially coming into Summer.

The best places to  look for accommodation are:

  1. In the Echo newspaper which comes out every Wednesday (and is available online on Tuesday evening here)
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  2. On Gumtree under Real Estate – Property for Rent, which you can find here
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  3. On Facebook groups for rentals in the Byron area such as:
    Soul-full Abodes SHORT TERM for the Tribe Northern NSW
    Byron Bay Rental Sleuth
    Byron Bay Abodes
    Soul-full Abodes for the Tribe Northern NSW
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  4. Check noticeboards for posters advertising rooms for rent.
  5. Another option is doing a work exchange, where you work a set amount of hours per day or week in exchange for your accommodation. Find more information on this option at Work for Accommodation, Help Exchange, Willing Workers on Organic Farms and Work Away.

 

When you see a room advertised, contact the person as soon as possible! You can be sure many other people will contact them, so the sooner you contact them, the better chance you have of getting the place.

Whether you contact people by phone or by email, always be friendly and polite, and make sure to:
– introduce yourself (your name, where you are from, what you are doing in Byron Bay)
– say what you are looking for, for example: short term/long term rental, single/double/shared room, quiet/social/party house?
– ask questions about the room and house, for example: How many other people live there? Are bills included in the rent? Is wifi/internet available? Are there any pets?
– check when the room is available from and to.

When you go to see a room, make sure you are on-time, friendly, polite and ask them any further questions you have about the room. After you leave, make sure to tell them as soon as possible if you are interested in renting the room! Also tell them if you are not interested, so they can offer it to someone else who is searching for a place to rent in Byron Bay.

Above all, stay positive and be persistent! The more people and the quicker you contact people about rooms advertised for rent, the more likely you are to find somewhere to live! Good luck!

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Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.