When you travel or study abroad, there are often many accommodation options available during your time abroad. One of the most rewarding experiences can be starting your international student experience in a new country by registering with a high quality homestay organization. Starting your study adventure by staying with an approved local host family can allow you to really experience what life is like in your host country.
Start with a Homestay
Starting with a homestay program is a great option for any international student. It offers a "real-life" experience that is second-to-none, and you will find that it could be one of the most rewarding parts of any international experience. Homestay programs allow students to jump right into their studies without the worries of finding housing, furniture or signing a lease all from overseas. In fact, if you are over 18 and start your experience in a homestay environment, your host will typically help you with many of your future decisions, including different long-term accommodation options.
What exactly is a Homestay?
Homestay programs arrange for international students to live with local hosts/ families during their studies. Living situations in homestay programs range from basic room-rental arrangements to complete host/family immersion. In a homestay program, you will typically have your own room, but join the family for meals and take part in their normal daily routine. Host families can be families that have younger or teenage children themselves, but homestays can actually be offered by anyone. Host families often choose to offer homestays because it’s a great way for them and/or their own children to meet with international students and be exposed to different cultures.
How do I find and compare Homestay programs?
It is important that you make the right decision in choosing a qualified homestay company. Sometimes your school will set you up with a homestay program directly. If not, you will need to do some of your own research to help you find the right homestay program for you.
When applying to a homestay program you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire before you are connected with a host family. With these questionnaires, it’s best to be completely honest. If you’re allergic to cats or afraid of dogs, you don’t want to end up in a home with a lot of pets! Most homestays that you will have to choose from during your search are locally based, however, we have partnered with one national organization, American Homestay Network, that offers homestays in many US cities.
American Homestay Network
International Student has partnered with the American Homestay Network (AHN) to help you find your way. The American Homestay Network offers international students the opportunity to be welcomed and hosted by a specially trained AHN Homestay Host. AHN places students in a home to provide a comfortable and safe place to start their American experience. AHN Homestay Hosts will help you to settle into life in the USA and advise you of how to get acclimated to American life.
AHN is committed to the safety of the international students who use their services, and every homestay host with AHN is required to complete a comprehensive certification program including: in-home interviews, training and assessments, national background checks, home inspections, and routine communications with local AHN managers.
Students who homestay through the American Homestay Network (AHN) can count on being provided a private bedroom, internet access, and an agreed-upon meal plan. In addition to the care and support of your host family, international students are also assigned a local homestay manager, who can provide backup support through a 24/7 emergency phone number.
There are many reasons that homestays are a great solution for international students, including:
When first arriving in the US things can be confusing and difficult, however, your homestay host is able to assist with local guidance like transport, shopping, banking as well as introducing and assisting with networks, mentoring, local culture, etc. Also, beginning your adventure with a homestay program allows students to jump right into their studies without the worries of finding housing, furniture and signing leases all from overseas.
As you will be staying in someone’s home, homestays tend to be an affordable option. The families offering their house as a homestay are typically not doing it for financial gain so they can be excellent economical accommodation options. Homestays are often the most economical accommodation option because cost of room and board generally includes meals, laundry facilities, and occasionally some light cleaning services. You will also save money because you won’t have to worry about furnishing an apartment. You may also be provided with a guaranteed number of meals a day, which will save you money in groceries, and allow you to splurge a little on fun excursions and souvenirs during your stay (not to mention try local dishes and foods!).
Staying with a local family will really submerge you into that culture and life. Homestay programs provide students with a more authentic cultural experience. In most cases you will spend evenings and free time with your host family, having meals and social time with them, and experiencing daily life in your host country. Living with host families will provide you with more opportunities to experience local cuisine, as well as local events and places that most tourists and other visitors to the country will be unaware of. Additionally, host families can serve as tour guides and give you tips on how to get by in your new environment.
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to be fully immersed in the language, and there is no better way of immersing yourself than with a homestay! If you are living in a dormitory or hostel, you will almost inevitably fall amongst people who speak your native language. In a homestay program, you will be required to converse in the native language of your host country, allowing you to improve your language skills. Your host family will most likely be thrilled to help you practice your skills. Engaging in daily conversation in your new language can be more helpful in building conversational skills than any class, and having strong language skills will make living in a foreign country far easier; you will be better able to explore the country and meet new people.
Although most college students and young adults in homestay programs have been away from home before, finding yourself in an entirely new country, far from your friends and family can be a lonely and daunting experience. Homestay programs are a great way to make new friends, as in most cases, homestay families have children themselves, often around the same age as the students they are hosting. Homestay families also provide a good support system for international students who are far from home, and friendships are often formed between hosts and students that last a lifetime.
In a homestay program, your host family is there to look out for you, much like your family at home. They will be there to make sure you get home safe every day, as well as to provide emotional support at home. If you are the type of person who likes to have someone to talk about your day with when you get home, a homestay may be the right option for you.
Is a Homestay Right for You?
When it comes time to decide where to live during your studies, these are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself:
- Do I want to live with other international students?
- Is being fully immersed in the language and customs of my new home important to me?
- Am I comfortable living in someone’s home?
- Would I enjoy having a host to help me around the area?
- Will I follow potential rules set by my host family and respect their rules during my stay?
Everyone has different needs and expectations of their study abroad experience. The decision to stay in a homestay depends on the type of experience you want to have in your new home.