What to Expect Living with a Host Family While Abroad

By Alicia Geigel on November 24, 2018

Traveling abroad is a fun, rewarding and eye-opening opportunity that can change your life if you have the privilege of experiencing it. For college students in particular, studying abroad is a chance to break out of one’s comfort zone and experience new cultures all while learning and furthering one’s education.

There are many things to consider when thinking about studying abroad like: what country you want to study in, which university you want to study at, which friends/classmates you want to travel with, and perhaps most importantly, where you’ll be staying. When planning to study abroad, many students opt to stay in university housing while others go for a more personal option like living with a host family. There are so many benefits to living with a host family, but you may be wondering, what exactly should I expect when living with a family that are complete strangers to me?

Are you a college student considering studying abroad but have absolutely no clue what to expect when it comes to living with a host family? Having a hard time imagining yourself living with complete strangers that you’ve never met before? Need some help knowing more information about how host families work? Check out the points below that will guide and assist you on just about everything you need to know about living with a host family!

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What is a Host Family?

Before diving straight into what to expect when living with a host family, let’s establish what exactly a host family is! According to Exchangestudentworld.com, “when you decide to have a Foreign Exchange Student come into your home, you have essentially become that student’s parents and family not only for the time they are in your home, but you will often find for the rest of your life.”

Essentially, your host family assumes some of the responsibilities of your family at home, such as providing rent-free housing and meals every day. But living with a host family is so much more than just having a hot meal and a place to stay, let’s get into somethings to expect while you’re at your home away from home abroad.

5 Things to Expect When Living with a Host Family

1. Adapt to the House Rules:

Just like at your house back home, your current host family is going to have certain rules of the house. It is not only respectful, but it is important to do your best to follow the rules of your host family while living with them.

If you don’t know of the rules when you first arrive, simply ask! If there aren’t too many rules and your host family isn’t very strict, always remember to use your manners, say “please” and “thank you” when given the chance. These small acts of kindness and respect go a long way, and show your host family that you’re grateful for their hospitality.

2. Eat the Same Meals as the Family:

While living with a host family, you can expect to eat the same meals at the family. Some of us are used to this at home, while others are used to having the luxury of being able to eat whatever meal and snack you want.

Prior to going abroad, let your host family know if you have any kind of intolerances, such as a dairy intolerance, or any dietary choices such as being vegetarian, so your host family is aware and can prepare meals to be inclusive of your needs.

3. Learn the Language Faster:

It is natural to learn the language at a quicker rate when living with a host family. Expect to immerse yourself deep into the culture and absorb the language in a more personal way than from your textbook.

Mandi Schmitt, a topic expert at GoOverseas.com writes, “Your host family is a great resource for practicing the local language and creating a total immersion environment. Families with small children are especially helpful, since they’re already used to coaching their little 4-year-olds through tough pronunciations and explaining simple concepts.”

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4. Experience Uncomfortable Situations:

Just like at home, there will be some situations that can be uncomfortable. After all, consider the fact that you’re a complete stranger to the family just like they are complete strangers to you.

You all are learning about one another and trying to figure out how to get to know each other in a respectful and fun way. Some cultures have different norms and standards, like personal space, for example, so just remember to be open to this and embrace any awkwardness when it comes.

5. Share a Bond for a Lifetime:

After all is said and done, expect to have a great experience and share a bond of a lifetime with your host family. While studying abroad, you’re going to call your host family your second family and be a part of important moments in their life, which is not only fun but it is meaningful to you as well.

One of the biggest components to consider when studying abroad is where to live. Choosing to live with a host family is an immersive, eye-opening experience that you will never forget when you study abroad. Whether or not you decide to stay with a host family or in university housing, you can still create memorable college experiences no matter what. If you do happen to decide to make the journey and go out of your comfort zone, good luck and have fun!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
Temple alum | columnist at Uloop News | photographer | food blogger if you want to learn more about me, visit my profile and check out my articles!

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