An international student from China who is studying English in Cape Breton is searching for answers – and a new home – after she says she was asked to leave her billet family’s house on New Year’s Eve.

Rachael Long, 23, is enrolled in a homestay program while studying at Cape Breton University’s International Center for English Academic Preparation. The homestay program offers international students a place to live, as well as meals and other services, at a cost of $700 a month.

Long says she gave her homestay family money for the month of January and told them she would be moving out in February, but she says the family gave her an hour’s notice to gather her things and move out on Dec. 31.

“They just said they want me to move out right now because they made a decision a few minutes ago. They didn’t want to be my homestay family anymore,” says Long, who is also coping with the recent loss of a family member in China.

“I’m very scared. It was very late. It was 10 p.m. I was helpless.”

“When I saw her, she cried loudly,” says Long’s friend, Circle Gao. “She was helpless. As a friend I must do something and help her out.”

Long says the school co-ordinator told her that her billet family doesn’t need to give notice, or a refund.

Now, Long says she has no money for the month of January and is staying with a friend while she searches for a new place to live.

The school administration says it is dealing with the issue and released the following statement:

“Our accredited homestay program has enjoyed success over our six years of operation based on solid policy and proven procedures … Our first priority is always the safety and quality of the experience students have with us and in our community,” said Kerrianne MacKenzie, chief operations officer for the International Centre for EAP.

Long is still hoping for a full refund for January and says the school needs to make changes to the program, so no one else has to go through the same experience.

“That agreement between homestay program and students needs to be more clear, and fair,” she says.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore