If the opportunity to travel to different countries, indulge in tasty foods, meet new friends and learn a language isn’t enough, living with a host family is sure to take your experience to the next level. From the initial greeting to the final goodbye and everything in between, you gain an incredible amount by living with a local family, and so do they.
So why should you choose to live with a host family while studying abroad, you ask? Scroll down and find out.
Practice a new language
Choosing to live with a family means adapting to their environment. This ultimately includes learning to communicate effectively with them on a daily basis, be it through their language or your own. If you’re travelling to Canada, perhaps you’re familiar with the English language and know enough to get by, however you’re not confident with it. Living with a family encourages you to push yourself out of that comfort zone and to practice your language skills as they promote a safe learning environment. You can practice certain words by speaking with younger children in the family, or can exchange phrases with your host father. Conversations with host families feel more natural as opposed to what you get in a classroom setting. There’s space for mistakes, and no one will be afraid to correct you and guide you in the right direction. At the end of the day, you have strengthened the language and perhaps may have even learned some local slang. In turn, local families learn a bit about your native language.
Live like a local
What better way to get to know your new city than through a local in-house guide. The family you live with is likely familiar with all the hot-spots across the city. From the tastiest restaurants to the most stunning city view, you’re sure to get the official tour. Host families are typically invested in delivering the best experience to their guests. Aside from touring the city, you can truly learn to live like a local and learn what they do in their day-to-day lives. You see where they go to grocery shop, what activities they participate in, what foods they eat, etc. Further, you start to familiarize yourself with what the norm is, whether it’s to take a nap in the early afternoon or to stay up late because that’s what locals do. Embrace it and enjoy it!
Read this blog to find out how international education helps foster a global outlook!
Be exposed to cultural practices and traditions
On top of the many things you gain living with a host family, you also get an inside look at the culture, traditions and people. You gain this knowledge by simply observing your surroundings. Do they celebrate the holidays? What do they do on a birthday? How do they communicate amongst one another? Do they participate in any traditions? While every family has its own traditions, you may not be exposed to a culture and all its traditional norms unless you live with a host family.
Taste authentic dishes
When you live with a host family, you are exposed to various local dishes. This is truly one of the greatest parts about living with a host family (especially if you’re a foodie)! When you travel, it’s hard to get a home cooked meal, and home cooked meals are one of the many things you start to miss when studying abroad. And yes, there is a big difference between eating out and homemade meals. Host families often cook meals to give their guests an opportunity to taste something new, a cuisine they may have never tried before. They may even teach their international guests to cook the way they do. In addition, as an international student, you may not be entirely sure as to where to get the best authentic food, whether or not it truly is authentic, and to some extent, you may even worry about its quality. With a host family, you don’t have to worry about these factors.
Gain a family
At the end of the day, you gain another family; a home away from home. People who care for you, who help you with your everyday needs, who help you overcome homesickness, who feed you and who accept you as part of their family too. Living with a host family may be the main reason you choose to visit the city time and time again.
Living with a host family isn’t the only way to experience all these things, but it certainly is a common, and highly suggested one. At the end of the day, your greatest take-home after studying abroad will be the relationships you make.
It’s always a good idea to prepare yourself for your time abroad in advance. Read our blog on what to expect when adjusting to student life in Canada for guidance!
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