TOP 10 Reasons Doing a HOMESTAY Will Change You
Has living in Europe or overseas always been on your bucket list? Have you dreamed about eating tapas and sipping wine on a Sunday afternoon? Have you wanted to challenge yourself and conquer a new country?
These are all things I’ve dreamed of, and Greenheart Travel made this possible! I’m a 25 year old American girl who did a homestay in Spain for 3 months.
Here are the things I’ve loved and learned.
1. Dive Right In! The Art of Immersion
When you live with a family in another country, you immediately get to experience how they live their daily lives.
You become a part of their routine, a part of their holidays, and a part of their family. You’re exposed to how their language is truly spoken, how they cook their food, everything. When you’re a tourist, you don’t have the exposure to these types of special moments.
You can walk away from this experience knowing what it is truly like to be Spanish (or whichever culture you choose to study and explore).
2. Now We’re Talkin’
Being surrounded by a language that isn’t your native language can definitely be exhausting and overwhelming at first. But you also get to understand how locals speak, instead of learning out of a textbook.
Your homestay family can help you learn their language, or there are usually a lot of people in the city/town willing to help you learn as well. Meetup.com, couchsurfing.com events, or Facebook groups in your city are great resources to help you find a language exchange group, or any other hobby group you wish to find.
Wherever you go, there will be resources and people to help you.
3. It’s Forever
Living in someone’s home, you get to experience how they live their day-to-day lives. That means you’re there for almost every moment. The homestay family is opening their home and hearts to you.
You have family that is looking out for you in this strange new place. You go through a lot of ‘firsts’ together. You make language mistakes together.
You laugh at yourselves together. This creates a special bond that will probably last forever. Who knows, maybe they’ll come and visit you in your home city!
4. Nothin’ Beats a Home Cooked Meal
With my program, I was always guaranteed 3 home cooked meals a day during the week! I got to experience firsthand what the locals ate.
On the weekends I went out and explored the different restaurants in the city, so I got the best of both worlds.
We enjoyed meals together every afternoon and evening, which gave us room to speak about our days. Meal times were a really nice bonding experience.
5. Tapas and Wine Are Divine
On the weekends or some evening nights, I’d meet up with friends or with language exchange groups for tapas!
Tapas are little dishes, like appetizers. They can include paella, little fried fish, olives, empanadas, bread with toppings, and many, many more. They usually come with a small beer. It’s a perfect little snack to share and enjoy while you’re hanging out with friends.
You’ll often see a group of friends standing around a wooden barrel snacking on tapas; it’s very informal. Spanish wine is also fantastic; I’ve bought incredible wine from the supermarket for less than 2 euro. Seriously.
6. Fiesta Fiesta!
In the city I stayed in, it was common to go to the pubs and bars until about 2-3 in the morning, and then go to a club and dance until 5 or 6 in the morning!
Sometimes, before going home, people will grab churros with chocolate and coffee for breakfast. The Spanish love to party, dance, and live life to the fullest.
During the year, there are an incredible number of “fests” or big holiday parties. I was able to experience Spanish Christmas, New Years (where everyone eats 12 grapes at midnight!), and Three Kings Day.
Check out when the biggest fests are during the year for the best times to visit Spain!
7. Travel Around Europe (CHEAPLY)
Traveling through (most) of the countries in Europe is like traveling through the states in America; you don’t have to show your ID at the borders (usually) and it’s made to be easier and more convenient for travelers and EU citizens.
This also means airfare within Europe is very cheap (looking at you, Ryanair, thank you). This means you can buy a ticket somewhere quite cheap, and have more euros to spend on food!
8. Shatter Your Comfort Zone
Whether you just visit another country, or live with a family in another country, you’re forced to adapt to the ways of that country.
Not everyone is going to speak your language when you ask for directions. Not every restaurant is going to have a menu with pictures. It’s going to be uncomfortable and challenging at times, but it is a good thing to experience this. Trust me.
9. Personal Achievement (Go From “You Can Do This!” to “You Did This!”)
Going off of the last point, when you struggle, you become better. You learn how to adapt faster so you can survive.
Your small victories (like successfully taking the right bus, or ordering the correct dish in that language) will add up to be the big accomplishments.
You can utilize these skills for the rest of your life. It may just give you the edge over someone else in a job situation, as well.
10. Challenge Your World Views
Perhaps before you moved to a country, you had all these expectations and preconceived notions of how it was going to be. Perhaps you heard things in the news about this place before, whether good or bad.
Maybe your friends and family told you all of the things they’ve heard about it. When you see a country firsthand, you can form your own opinions and have your own experiences.
By Hallie Smith