The idea of living in a homestay can be exciting, but it can also be stressful! Students often worry about how to prepare for their life with a host family or wonder how to act while living with their host family. Follow these tips for living in a homestay and you will arrive prepared, live comfortably, and finish your experience feeling like your host family is a second family.
Tips for International Students Living in a Homestay
Get in touch before arriving
Before you move to the United States, contact your host family: send emails, text, or use video calling to “meet” before you officially meet face-to-face! This will allow you to introduce yourself and learn a little about your family. If your host family has social media, become friends: this will give you a good idea of what they are like (and it will allow them to do the same).
Ask lots of questions
When you first arrive, you will have many questions about your new home and your new city. Don’t be afraid to ask them! Your host family will be happy to help you adjust to your new life, but they cannot read your mind: it is up to you to ask questions or to ask for help.
Make plans together on the weekends
Your host family will love to include you on weekend activities: it’s always fun to share your city with people from other countries! Let your host family know that you are interested in spending time with them. The weekends are a great time to become closer, practice your English, and see and do all of the things that your host family loves to do in their town.
Cooking with your host family is a great way to spend time with them. It’s also a great way to improve your English! If you would like, try to cook for your host family one evening. They will probably love to learn about a dish from your home country and they will be so happy to try your home-cooked food.
Talk about your day
Share the details of your study abroad experience with your family. What did you do today? What did you learn in class? Who did you spend time with? Your host family wants to know! If you aren’t comfortable speaking about yourself, you can always ask your host family about their day. Hearing the details of their life and their job will help you get to know them.
Tell them about your family and life back home
People become host families because they want to share their home with others. They also love learning about other cultures. Share what life is like for you back home: your school, your family, your job, and your friends. The more they know about your life, the closer they will feel to you.
Be clean and courteous (of course)
This goes without saying, but always try to be clean and polite. Make your bed, help with the dishes after dinner, and offer to do small chores around the house (such as sweeping or vacuuming).
Sometimes, you might be rushed and not have time to clean: that’s OK! Just explain to your host family: they will be understanding and appreciate that you felt bad about being a little messy.
Use the house’s open spaces
It’s natural to want to have some “alone time” in your room, but also try to stay in the house’s communal spaces (like the living room). This will make you feel like a part of the family, rather than a paying tenant. It will also show your host family that you are interested in socializing and being a part of the family. Plus, it’s great English practice!
Stay in touch
After you leave, try to send emails, texts, or messages on social media from time to time. Your host family will never forget you! Let them know that you will always remember them too.