5 Things to Keep in Mind When Staying With a Host Family

By Allie Mitchell on February 2, 2017

Studying abroad is one of the most wonderful things about being in college and trying to be an adult. College can teach you a lot of things, but studying abroad can help you see outside of the things that you have already learned while in your home country.

Yes, studying abroad can cost you some money and you have to pick a good time to do it, but in the end, it is one of those things that you don’t ever regret (at least, I’ve never met someone that regretted their study abroad experience).

There are many things to consider when you are deciding to study abroad and broaden your horizons: the duration of the trip, what you will be studying, where you will be going, and all the amenities that come with these choices.

Sometimes when you are studying abroad, you go for six months and stay with a group in a hotel, and sometimes you can do an exchange type of study abroad and go for a whole year and stay in a university setting. The possibilities are endless. Oftentimes when students study abroad, they stay with host families.


What is a host family? A host family is a family that houses you while you study abroad; they basically open up their space to you for the length of time that you need for your studies. Living with a host family is an entirely different experience than living in a hotel because, of course, you are living in a home but you are also living within the confines and cultures of an actual person from that country. It more than likely gives you a whole different perspective on studying abroad when it is all said and done.

Although, the thought of living with a host family instead of in a hotel can make some people a bit wary, especially people who have never studied abroad before. Having a bit of advice before you decide that this is the decision you are making would give you good peace of mind before you go.

1. Keepsakes: It doesn’t make you any less of an adult to bring your favorite keychain from home or your most prized pillowcase. The longer you study abroad the more homesick you may get. Getting homesick doesn’t mean you aren’t having a good time while you are away, it just means that you miss home, which is completely normal. Bringing something from home can help ease the sense of missing home if you have a little piece of it with you while staying with your host family.

2. Clean & tidy: Don’t be a slob. Don’t leave a tornado of a mess in your room at your host family’s home. They are not your maid and you should know better than to leave a complete mess behind. You want to make a good impression on the people that you are staying with. You want them to like you and know that you respect their home and their country, so just try to pick up after yourself. It is common manners anyway.

3. Talk, talk, talk: The host family isn’t there to just give you a place to live. They are there to interact with and make conversation with. Even if you aren’t that into having conversations, they probably know where you are better than you do, so they could probably help you find your way around or even give you little tips here and there. No one said you had to be friends with them, but being polite and making small talk never hurt anyone. Put in some effort, as it will help you in the long run and it will make your experience that much more fulfilling.

4. Patience is key: Especially if you go to a place where most of the people do not speak English — not even your host family. That can be frustrating and can even irritate you at times, but remember to keep calm and have patience with them. They are trying and took you into their home, so the least you can do is be nice and have some patience. They can actually end up teaching you a few things. They may annoy you and make you eat the same thing every night, or speak way too loud, but you have to put up with it the best way you know how or confront it in a respectful manner.

5. You don’t live here: Remember that the number one key piece of knowledge is to always keep in mind that it isn’t your house and you can’t act the way you do when you are at home. These people aren’t your parents and the people living next to them aren’t your neighbors. They want to make you feel like a part of their family, so embrace them the best that you can.

By Allie Mitchell

Uloop Writer
23 | Georgia State Alumna || Biology Major| Seeking MPH after graduating| Aspiring writer| Lover of interesting conversations and funny people| Active reader of fiction"| Girlfriend to a wonderful marine

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