Homestays are one of the most unique experiences any study abroad program can offer. The chance to live not only in a foreign country but with a foreign family is one offered in only a handful of universities. You might have cringed at the thought and blown it off because who wants to deal with parents while living in a foreign country? A lot of students don’t even consider living in a homestay as a possibility, and the truth is you’re missing out on what can be an amazing experience! Living in a homestay is one of my favorite things about studying abroad, and I can give you three reasons as to why it could be yours too.
1. You learn about their culture
I probably learned more about Italy and Italians in the first two weeks of living in my homestay than I would have in my entire semester had I not chosen to live with an Italian family. Your family will teach you everything you’d ever want or need to know about their city and their people (what do they really think of foreigners? Probably not what you’d expect). Besides, if you find yourself in a country that speaks a different language than yours, there’s no better or faster way to pick up a language than completely surrounding yourself with native speakers.
2. The Food!
One of my favorite things about living in a homestay is getting an authentic look at what real Italian food is all about. Let’s be real, Italian food is probably one of the biggest factors you considered when choosing where you wanted to study abroad. I know I was dreaming of Italy’s gelato well before I even sent in my application. Maybe it’s your favorite type of food or maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to try. Either way, getting to taste a cuisine right from its native country is definitely worth experiencing at least once in your life. Don’t get me wrong, going out to restaurants is still great – believe me, local Italian restaurants are nothing like Italian restaurants in the US – but there’s no better (and cheaper!) way to get to know a country and its food than by eating it straight from the locals themselves. There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal, right?
3. It’s actually a home
Despite all the incredible experiences and the fun you’ll be having while you’re here, homesickness is a thing that hits and can hit hard when you find yourself thousands of miles away from home. Whether you miss your friends from back home or your mom’s cooking or even simply your own bed, there’s a sense of comfort that comes with knowing that you’re living in someone’s home. They’ve taken you into their house, made you part of their family and soon enough you’ll be seeing them as part of yours.