When deciding to live in the United States and study English in San Francisco or San Diego, there is one big decision to make: homestay, or residence hall? Both have their advantages! In a homestay, you have the opportunity to interact with Americans constantly, and you get a glimpse into American life. It is a rewarding experience! Of course, living with a “stranger” will make anyone nervous–especially before arriving in the U.S. If you choose to live in a homestay, here are some tips to help you be the “perfect” homestay student.
How to be the perfect homestay student
1. Try to get in touch before you arrive
This will help everyone feel more comfortable, and when you meet, you won’t feel like strangers at all! Send an email, exchange photos, and ask if your host family members have social media accounts where you can interact. A quick Skype conversation is a great idea as well.
2. Make sure you understand all house policies
Every house has its “rules” to make living together be as smooth as possible. Knowing them will help you avoid any confusions about simple things, like sharing a washer and dryer with other people, or splitting shower times to make sure everyone has hot water. Your host family will probably give you all the information you need when you arrive, so make sure to remember and respect these policies.
If you are confused about something, just ask! Your host family will be happy to clarify anything you might be confused about, and you will avoid unnecessary stress.
4. Be clean, respectful, and courteous
The same policies that apply to any house guest apply to your homestay. Simply use common sense and keep your room clean, do your dishes, and do not make too much noise or come in too late. If you break a rule, apologize: your host family will probably be incredibly understanding.
5. Remember your host family is a valuable resource
People decide to become host families because they want to open their home to people from other countries. Families who are willing to do this are very warm and friendly, and are excited to share their culture with you. Use them as “tour guides” to learn more about their city, and take their suggestions on restaurants and sights. It is like having a personal tour guide living with you!
6. Share parts of your culture, too
It is important to remember that host families want to learn about your culture just as much as they want to share their own. Talk about your life back home, your traditions, and your culture. It will be very interesting for your host family, and these topics are great conversation starters.
7. Share experiences
Don’t just “live” together: hang out! Go to dinner, go to the beach, visit museums, and build memories with your host family. These are the priceless experiences that make being a homestay student so rewarding.
8. Don’t be shy
Speaking English might be intimidating at first, but it is the only way you can improve your English skills and create a close relationship with your host family. Remember that you have to make an effort, and of course your host family must do the same. Talk about your day, your classmates, your experience studying English at CISL, and the friends that you have made. With all of these new experiences, there will always be plenty to talk about! And of course there is plenty to ask your host family members, like the details of their jobs, their hobbies, where they have lived in the United States, and where they have traveled.
9. Consider your host family to be extra English teachers
You are living with native English speakers. Awesome! This means you have people to help you with your homework, teach you slang, help you with your pronunciation . . . it is like having extra English teachers with you all of the time! Use them as a resource and your English will quickly improve. Your relationships with your host family members will grow as well.
10. Keep in touch after your stay
Do not forget to send emails and stay in touch with your host family after you leave. They will definitely be thinking of you after you are gone, and a quick email saying “hello” will always be appreciated.
Thanks to Charlene for sharing host family pictures!