Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Your Homestay Abroad
Want to Know How to Have a Great Relationship with Your Host Family?
Living with a host family is truly an experience like no other. I have had the opportunity to host a student and live with a host family and I have to say that doing so adds an entire dimension to you travel experience. Whether you are doing an exchange program or studying abroad, living with a host family is a great way to make your experience in a new country more authentic. While it is a fantastic way to become immersed in a new culture, many people have some anxiety about the idea of staying with a family that is not their own. It’s fine to be slightly nervous about a homestay because after all, you will be embracing a new country and the family you stay with will likely heavily influence your experience. This post is meant to calm any anxieties you have about staying with a host family by telling you exactly what you should expect. Hopefully by the end of this post you will really look forward to the amazing homestay that awaits you.
Do Make a Good First Impression
It’s true what they say, first impressions can be everything. Chances are you will be given your family’s contact info prior to the program. The best way to break the ice is to send them a friendly email telling them about yourself. You can even include some fun pictures of you enjoying some of your favorite hobbies or visiting your favorite places. This is a great step to take in order to give your family a glimpse of who you are before you arrive. If you don’t reach out you could even end up looking disinterested or hostile. Making a good first impression when you meet your family in person is also super important. Make sure to smile, give an appropriate greeting and let them know how excited and thankful you are for their hospitality. I would highly recommend bringing gifts for each member of the family to express your gratitude. These gifts should be something unique to you home country or even your state or city. Follow this tip and your host family will be overjoyed to have you as their guest.
Do Have an Open Mind
It is crucial to remember that you are traveling so you can step outside of your comfort zone. Some of the things your host family does may seem out of the ordinary to you, but it’s up to you to embrace them! Try the all of the food they serve you at least once (if you don’t like something you can always tell them). Watch their TV shows and movies and listen to their music. Take part in all of the family’s typical activities and do so with a smile on your face. Never reject one of their customs simply because it may seem strange to you at first glance. If you do so, you are sure to miss out on some truly unique experiences.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Do not stay holed up in your room during your entire homestay! You are there to enjoy the family’s company and they will be looking forward to getting to you. In order for this to happen you need to interact with them. Venture into the family spaces and have conversations with the family members. If they are fluent in a language you are trying to learn, this advice is especially important. Spending time talking with native speakers who are eager to help you learn is a rare opportunity that anyone would be foolish to pass up. So even if you’re shy, get out there and get to know the people who are letting you stay in their home.
Do Share Your Story
As much as you are there to learn from your host family, they also want to learn from you. Tell them about what you love to do and about any fun adventures you’ve had. If you’re studying abroad tell them all about the program and why you chose it. Opening up and sharing details of your life is a great way to connect with your host family. No one can resist a good story so use the dinner table as your time to shine and show them what makes you the one of a kind person you are!
Don’t Have Loud Guests Over
Always keep in mind that you are staying in someone else’s house. You might invite your friends over whenever and make as much noise as you want in your own house, however different rules apply when you are a guest. Be respectful by always asking before having guests over, not inviting too many people and keeping the noise level low. By respecting their space you are sure to stay on good terms with your host family.
Do Take Advantage of the Services They Offer
Much like your actual family, your host family is there to help you out, so let them do so! Most host families will cook you 2-3 meals a day and do laundry for you. This is a great way to reduce spending on food while abroad. It is understood that you’re going to go out to eat, but try to splurge where it really counts. Enjoy breakfast at home and then go out to a nice lunch or dinner in one of the city’s nicest restaurants. Also take advantage of the opportunity to be able to have a hot shower and a nice bed to sleep on. If you need anything to be more comfortable, like extra blankets or towels, don’t be afraid to ask your host family. It is likely that they will be more than happy to help!
Don’t Forget to Keep in Touch
This tip can be saved for when your trip comes to an end. Whether it’s for ten days or several months, chances are you will have developed a bond with the members of your host family. It will inevitably be very difficult to say goodbye, but staying in touch with them can make this easier. Use whatever form of communication you’re comfortable with to keep them updated on life after your trip. I would recommend Facebook, What’s App, Facetime/Skype or a good old-fashioned post card. After you leave, use these platforms to check in with them as often as you would like and let them know how things are going back in your daily life.