10 Dos and Don'ts of a Successful Homestay!

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Homestay programs are a great idea when you are traveling abroad! You are fully immersed into the culture of the country you are living in, have a local family to help you with directions, and make a relationship with another family that will last forever! Sometimes, cohabitation can be tough. Language barriers, differences in food, and unfamiliar customs can cause rifts in the host/student relationship.

If you have chosen to do a homestay or if you are still deciding, read on to see our tips for a successful homestay!

Tips for What to do in a Homestay Program

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DO communicate with your host family before your arrival

This time before your arrival is an important time to get to know your host family before you move in. It is important to let them know of some of your likes and dislikes so they can be sure to have them in their home for you when you arrive. It is also time to get to know their family and even introduce them to your family so you feel more secure upon your arrival.

DO bring a thoughtful gift

Bringing a small gift that is representative of your culture is a great way to start a conversation with your host family. One of our hosts received traditional Japanese paper and Japanese treats as a gift when her student arrived. One special treat was Kit Kat Bars in Japanese flavors that cannot be purchased in the United States. They got to spend time trying them together and had a great first impression!

DO talk about rules the first few days and be sure you understand them

Communication is the number 1 key to success in a homestay! Hosts will typically have 5 rules they are very strict about. This may be, for example, turning off the lights at night when you go to sleep, locking the doors when you leave, shutting all windows, etc. Make sure you talk to them about their rules and preferences early on so you can avoid as much conflict as possible.

DO join your host family for meals and activities

Hosts love when students sit at the table and join them for meal time. This is the time when you can talk about school, your culture, ask them for advice, or just talk about life in general! Hosts are very helpful and would be happy to help you with your English or any questions you have about being a local in the area. Dinner time is also the perfect time to try the local food.

DO communicate with your placement agency

What happens if you have tried your best but you just do not click with your host family? This can happen. You are not on your own! Remember that agency that placed you? They are there to help! Reach out to your agency and let them know of your concerns. Sometimes, having an outside source for advice will help mend the problems between you and your host family. If not, you will be moved to a home that suits your personality! Alternatively, if you adore your host family be sure to give them praise! They agency keeps record of their best host families and love to hear great stories.

 

Tips for What NOT to do in a Homestay Program

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DON’T have unrealistic expectations

Host families are just that-families. They do this because they love having international students in their home. Your room will not be extremely large, you will probably not have extravagant meals, and your host may be busy at times. If you are uncomfortable with something or would like sometime changed, you should communicate with your host to see if they can change it. But don’t expect your host home to be like a hotel. Be sure to be a part of the home.

DON’T leave a mess behind you

 Many cultures have different practices when it comes to cleaning. Maybe you grew up with a house cleaner and you do not know how to do laundry. Your host is happy to help you! You just need to ask. It should not be expected that your host will clean your bathroom, room, or wash your dishes. You are a member of the family now and should contribute as one. Clean your dishes, do your laundry, and keep your bathroom and room clean! Ask if you can help in any other way. Maybe offer to cook a meal from your culture!

DON’T forget to make friends

When you are busy studying abroad, you can forget to get to know the local people your age. It is great to make some local friends who can introduce you to different local activities! Maybe there is a secret spot that all the local college students go to or a hole in the wall restaurant that only locals know about. Take some time to meet friends and seek out new adventures!

DON’T forget to express gratitude while in your host home and after

Saying please and thank you is a big part of American culture. Be sure that you are making an effort to express your gratitude when your host has gone out of their way to give you a ride somewhere, cook an extra nice meal, or help you with homework. Gratitude goes a long way! At the end, you should always thank your family for sharing their home with you.

DON’T lose touch with your host family

Some of our hosts have their students for years and eventually go to their weddings! Others have their students for short times but they still come back and visit after many years. Do not lose touch with your host! Who knows, the next time you are in their area, you may need a place to stay! The best part of homestay is the everlasting bond you will have with your host family. So stay in touch and visit whenever you come back.

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3 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays as an International Student!

 

The holidays are upon us! This is typically the time that you would go home to spend the holiday season with your family. For those of you who have decided to stay, this is a great time to experience the joy and excitement of the holiday season in the United States!

 

Christmas … [Read more 3 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays as an International Student!]

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