There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a study abroad program. Obviously the destination and the courses matter, but another big factor that’s often overlooked is the housing situation: living independently, or with a host family.
Many programs place students in apartments or student housing with other Americans. While many students thrive in that environment, programs that place students with host families give their students even more opportunities to grow and develop while abroad. Here are just three of the benefits you’ll experience when living with a host family abroad.
Many places in Europe teach language in schools through immersive activities, and tend to have more multilingual citizens as a result. Whether you know the language of the country where you’re studying or not, living with a host family will force you to use that language every single day.
When you’re out in the city, say ordering food, it is more likely that the waiter might speak up and help you in english. However, with a host family that speaks little english, you have to start learning the language in order to communicate.
At the end of a long day of classes and activities, you may want to just come home and relax, but living with a host family will push you (in a good way!) to stay mentally active as much as possible. The fastest way to learn a language is by diving right in and trying.
It’s easy to stay on a very American schedule and mindset, when you’re living either on your own or with other Americans. Being in a host family helps you understand every aspect of the culture, and how the citizens of that country or city actually live.
For example, citizens of European countries tend to be much more conscious of energy and water usage than the average American. Living in a host family, you’ll become much more mindful of turning lights off and taking quick showers.
You’ll also be much more likely to adapt to the local foods, and the times they eat them, when your food is cooked and provided by a host family. By living with locals, you’ll feel like a local yourself, and have a much more genuine cultural experience.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
While adapting to the language and culture can seem stressful, once you get to know your host family and they get used to having you around, you will be so grateful for your home away from home, and your new foreign family.
Many students who study abroad while living in host families keep in touch with them far beyond their time in that country. By living with locals, you’ll expand your global network, and the next time you return to that place, you can genuinely say that you have friends waiting for you to welcome you back home.
If you’re looking to push yourself and truly get the most from your study abroad experience, consider a program that gives you the opportunity to live with a host family. These are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience, but the list goes on and on.