10 Reasons You Should Live With A Host Family When Studying Abroad
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10 Reasons You Should Live With A Host Family When Studying Abroad

Mother does know best

10 Reasons You Should Live With A Host Family When Studying Abroad

Applications for Spring semester study abroad are due soon, and the housing request forms that go along with them. Most study abroad programs give students the option to live in a dorm, live in an apartment or live with a host family. All three options have pros and cons, but after living with a host family for a month I believe it's the best option to choose. You may not have much of your own space aside from your bedroom, but you'll have the best cultural resources possible just 20 feet away at all times.

Whether you're considering housing options or you've already had a great host family experience, here are 10 reasons you should definitely have that experience.

1. You're not alone

The first night you get to a foreign country can be a bit intimidating -- you most likely don't speak the language fluently, and you probably don't know more than a handful of other students from your school. Being dropped off in an apartment and having to completely fend for yourself can be a huge culture shock. With a host family, they do everything for you and they're there as a security blanket for that first week.

2. They provide the necessities

There's no need to bring your own bed linens or towels, and you probably won't have to buy breakfast or dinner. In some programs, the host family cleans your room each week and does your laundry.

3. They care

My roommate had a cold about two weeks ago and my host mother gave her medicine and made sure she stayed home from classes. She always makes us wear slippers around the house, dry our hair after we shower and bring a jacket or umbrella whenever we leave for classes. Having someone there to care about your well-being can be comforting while away from your actual family for an extended period of time.

4. There's no better way to learn the culture or language

Whether you're listening to a host parent speak on the phone, watch TV or have a conversation with someone else, the language is everywhere. You can pick up on so many slang terms that you probably wouldn't learn living on your own, and they can correct any mistakes you may make when trying to talk back to them. Culture is everywhere too -- whether it's learning that the French always shower before dinner or that they save salad until after a meal is finished, you'll be so much more aware of cultural nuances.

5. You'll learn

Many people in other countries learn differently than we do in the United States. If you were to ask me anything about Illinois, I couldn't. But if you were to ask a European about Luxembourg or places to visit in Germany, they could talk for hours.

6. They'll do anything they can to make your experience better

I told my host mom that I love fruit, and she leaves a pear, banana or grapes out for my breakfast every morning. My roommate hates mushrooms, so if my host mom makes a dish that uses them, she doesn't put them on my roommate's plate. My host mom gives us maps of the city highlighted with different cafés that we should try. She always offers us dessert after dinner. She keeps our interests in mind all the time and does everything she can to enhance our experience.

7. It's fun to teach them

There are so many cultural differences between Europeans and Americans that we're not aware of until we discuss them. Did you know that French toast doesn't actually exist in France? Or that they really don't do coffee to-go? Or that many of them have no idea that the Electoral College exists? The other night I taught my host mom the word "schedule" and we had a great time laughing over the tough pronunciation.

8. Host siblings can be fun

Many of the host families have children in them, anywhere from a newborn baby to a 35-year-old man or woman. No matter the age, host children can be the best cultural resource possible. They know all the most colloquial words, talk at the speed of a foreigner (instead of the speed of a host mother trying to make sure you understand) and they know the best restaurants or bars in the area if they're a bit older.

9. They know the Do's and Don'ts

I almost went to Paris for only one day and my host mother flipped out. She said going for a day is a waste of time and I absolutely had to go for two days minimum -- she was right. They know the coolest parts of the area and the parts that are overrated or touristy. They may even take you to the places you need to see.

10. It's a good reality check

If you live in an apartment or a dorm abroad, it's very easy to pregame, throw parties or drink as often as you'd like, which can be great. For a lot of students, that's seen as a huge advantage. When you live with a host family, chances are they'd prefer you didn't invite friends over, get drunk in your bedroom or stay up until 3 a.m. every night. Even though that can get frustrating at times, it's a great reality check that this isn't just one big expensive party. Study abroad is about meeting friends and having a great time, but it's also about learning, studying and cultural immersion. Having a host family makes you find the key balance between having fun and making the most of your time abroad.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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