Studying English in a foreign country is perhaps one of the best ways one can invest in their personal growth. To get the most of the experience, students can choose to live with a host family during their travel. But, not only is the student to learn English while everyone is speaking a mile a minute, there’s also the issue that comes from living under the same roof as someone who may have a lifestyle different from their own. And now, that person is your host parent!
Here’s how Chiara from Italy and Allan from Brazil dealt with their apprehension and managed to have the time of their lives with Imelda, their new mom:
How has your experience been with your host family so far?
C: I’m only 18 and I was scared about coming here and I didn’t know anything about family: only their name and that I had two host brothers. Stuff like that. When I arrived to my host family, she [host mother] was like, “OMG, I thought you would arrive later!” (laughs) She was having a shower.
It’s so funny because you thought in your brain “run!” and “where am I going?” And then you arrive and it’s beautiful. Like my experience is beautiful. I’m going to miss my family. I love staying there.
What about you, Allan?
A: I had a few reservations about home stay. I had a little worry about having a good relationship because I was going to a new environment. But, I think the profile of my home stay is amazing. Such friendly people. I don’t have any complaints.
Is there a big cultural difference between the US and your country?
C: Yeah, it’s different but not too much. My host mom is Mexican, so there’s a lot of culture because my host mom is Mexican and her sister is Puerto Rican. So, every weekend we have barbeque. And in Italy we don’t have barbeques. So, it’s so strange having a barbeque every weekend! (laughs) I’m getting fat, but it’s okay.
A: I didn’t notice a lot of difference. I think it’s so similar. The family has one specific manners, habits, but the culture for me is the same.
How would you describe your daily life with your host family, from getting up to going to bed? Are there rituals? Are you going out together on the weekends?
C: We walk and we have breakfast, us and my host mom. Then we go to school and stuff like that. At five o’clock, they have dinner. I try to get home by five for respect. She didn’t ask me to do that, but I love to stay with her. We talk a lot, for like three hours we talk. We listen to music. We went to the grocery store just to take a walk. In the evening, we sit on the couch and we watch film. (laughs) And then we fall asleep! It’s nice. Every night we do the same stuff.
A: But, there’s no obligation or specific hour to do things. The only hour that’s specific is during the weekday because of class. In the morning, she makes breakfast at one specific hour. She gives us free time.
Would you recommend to other students to stay with a host family or stay alone?
C: No. I would choose 1000 times my host family. I think that even if my host family wasn’t like it [my current host family], I would’ve chosen the host family. I think that host family is there for you emotionally and gives you a lot of stuff that the residence doesn’t have, like a host mom to cook for you every day. If you have to talk with someone, she’s there for you. I have two sisters in Italy and now I have three brothers. It’s so strange but it’s so cool! I love my host family.
A: I recommend it completely. I think it’s very different this experience. In my host family, it’s more like being part of a group. I feel truly lucky.