Students planning to study abroad have various housing options they can choose from. They can choose on-campus accommodation and rentals, or even stay with a host family. Each option provides students with a different cultural experience.
Whereas an on-campus accommodation provides students with more of a university experience, a homestay provides students more of an ultimate cultural immersion experience. In addition, you get to have a life-long relationship with people from another culture, maximize your language experience and eat more local homemade food than your peers.
If you have already decided to live with a host family and are unsure of what to do next, here are some tips for making your homestay experience abroad more enjoyable.
Do Your Research
The first thing you can do before traveling abroad and meeting your host family is to do your research. Although having a culture shock is normal, and really getting to know the culture and practices of your host family might usually take some time. It is still better to have some preparation before you meet them.
Research the culture, learn some cultural etiquettes and some basic phrases (if you are not a fluent speaker of your host family’s language) you can use to make communication between you and them easier. Doing your research will help you avoid creating a huge cultural faux pas that might ruin their first impression of you.
Socialize and Join in the Activities
Some international students, due to culture shock or language barrier, have missed a lot of opportunities to get to know and socialize with their host family. Avoid this kind of mistake and try to learn more about them by asking questions. Remember, one of the reasons you visited another country is to study and learn more about a new culture. Thus, you at least should put some effort to bridge that cultural gap between you and your host family.
Don’t be a tenant. Don’t just stay in your room and do your own thing, or don’t just hang out with your new friends at school. You should also hang out with your host family while doing mundane activities such as joining family meals, doing the groceries, joining a vacation trip, or watching a host sibling’s game or recital.
Follow House Rules
You wouldn’t want to get on your host family’s bad side—it would really be awkward. To avoid this, follow your host family’s house rules by asking them if there are any, like not drinking inside the house, bringing in friends, or getting home late.
Although there might be times when you have to break them, such as getting home later than usual or eating outside with friends instead of having dinner with your host family. In that case, inform your host family.
Share Your Culture
If you are staying with a host family, there’s a big chance that they are interested in learning about another culture too. Don’t be shy and share your culture with them, your host family is sure to appreciate this gesture. There are many ways to do this such as introducing your own country’s music and games, teaching your language, teaching them how to cook a meal from your country or cooking for them. Not only is it a good way to bond with them, but it is also a good way to give back to your host family.
Still unsure where you should stay abroad? Browse through MSM Unify’s articles about student accommodations abroad to learn more.