Hannah Strange, the Florida Down Under marketing intern, writes:
For many students one of the most nerve-racking things about going on a study abroad is the completely terrifying… homestay. Doesn’t sound very intimidating does it? While a homestay is something to which many students look forward, many introverts (such as myself) find the idea of staying with a strange family somewhat foreboding. Somehow the idea of staying with a family you have never met before, in a town you’ve never been to before is really quite scary.
However, for most students, a homestay becomes the most enjoyable part of their program. Families hosting students have, in my experience, been incredibly excited to be a homestay family.
While I studied on the Fiji program, my Fijian family warmly received me into their home and made me feel entirely at ease. They incessantly offered me food and wanted to converse about my life. Despite my pre-program concerns, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak one-on-one with my family and hear first-hand about their way of life. Homestays truly are an incredible way to form bonds and connect with locals.
A fellow student at UF spent one summer teaching at summer camps in Italy, and she stayed with several different host families during that time. The following summer she was able to go back and stay with the families, and she still corresponds with them regularly. She says, “All of my host families were so welcoming; I learned so much about Italian culture from them that I would not have experienced if I hadn’t had the ability to stay in their homes.”
So while homestaying with a family might seem intimidating at first, it is certainly one of the most memorable parts of a study abroad. It’s an experience that can lead to a lot of new and exciting friendships. Happy traveling.