Studying abroad means choosing adventure. It is a time of excitement, in which every aspect of your day will be different. You will get to share this time with a new host family and make new friends. You will get to see places you have only dreamed about, try new foods, and observe new cultures.
These same changes, though, can also be a little scary; nearly everything will be different. There’s also the uncertainty of whether you will get along with your host family or not.
There are many ways to avoid getting off on the wrong foot with your new family. This list can help you make a smooth transition to your new home away from home.
1. Follow the Rules
When you first arrive at your host family’s home, it’s important to understand the ground rules. Knowing their expectations and rules will go a long way in helping everyone get along. If they want you to be home by 10:00 PM, doing so will keep them from worrying and prevent an unwanted confrontation.
2. Learn About Their Culture
When you choose to study abroad, you are stepping into a new culture. This may include the local culture, as well as the unique culture in the host family’s home. It is important to learn what you can about the local culture before you arrive. For instance, some cultures find it disrespectful to enter their homes wearing shoes. You don't want to start off disrespecting them by walking in their home with shoes on. Do your best to understand your host family’s culture, and they’ll do their best to understand yours.
Communication is going to be the key to a successful transition. You can avoid significant grief and misunderstanding if your communication is clear. This can help the family you are staying with to be open with you as well.
If you have questions about anything, it is important to communicate them. There is no need to be shy. If you don't ask, you won't know—and you’ll be more likely to make a mistake.
4. Be Polite
This should be a given, but is often forgotten when you get more comfortable in your setting. Remember: this is not your permanent home; you are a guest and should act accordingly.
5. Help Around the House
Offer to help around the house. This can go a long way toward preventing resentment and hurt feelings. No one likes to feel taken advantage of. If you are using something, put it away when finished. Offer to help out in any way you can.
5. Keep Your Bedroom Tidy
Keeping your sleeping space clean is vital. It shows respect for the family who has provided you with a place to stay. Although it may be your own private space during your homestay, it’s important to show that you’re thankful for what your host family has given you by treating their home and possessions with care.
7. Spend Time with Your Host Family
Choose to spend time with your host family. They’ve chosen to take you into their home and would like to know you as much as you want to know them. Besides, you’ll gain much more from the experience of homestay and immerse yourself more in a new culture if you take the time to form deep friendships with them.
8. Ask How to Use Something
Different countries have different types of appliances and electrical outlets. If you don't know how to use it, ask how to use it—otherwise you risk breaking something or injuring yourself. Don’t worry; your host family understands that you’re new to the country, and will be happy to help you figure things out.
9. Follow Their Schedule
Does your host family wake up and make breakfast by a certain time every morning? Choose to get up and spend that valuable time with them. You will likely learn more about their culture during these times than you would any other time. The same goes for dinnertime, family time, and other activities they may have planned. Just be sure to communicate about your own schedule to figure out plans that work for everyone.
10. Share Your Culture with Your Host Family
Don't forget to share stories about yourself and your culture with your host family. They likely elected to become a host family to learn about a new culture as well. This is part of the magic of homestay—it’s a way for students and local families to connect, learn, and broaden their worldview through friendship and acceptance.
Interested in studying abroad and enjoying the adventure of a lifetime? Sign up for a homestay at StudentRoomStay.com, and we’ll match with with a host family to welcome you to the United States.