Living with native speakers is an unequivocally educational part of the
language immersion process, and in some ways it can give you the best
possible scope of your unfamiliar surroundings and language. We here at AmeriSpan couldn't help but notice how excited our former students are about their homestay experiences, or how anxious our students-to-be are to find out as many details about their families as possible! So, we want to share with you some very common questions and answers about our homestay arrangement process, and what you can expect!
Q: How are homestay families selected? Will you be able to make sure all of my preferences are met?
A: Families usually volunteer based on room in their house and an interest to be a cultural ambassador. The homestays are visited by school staff regularly to ensure the quality and sanitation of the house, kitchen rooms and bathrooms. We also continue to re-evaluate families as we get feedback from students, and will discontinue working with a specific family if they do not meet our standards. Families usually are very interested in hearing about where you're from and helping you to understand more about their language and culture.
Q: I am so excited to meet my family! When can I expect details about them?
A: Usually 1-2 weeks before you leave for your program. We assign them close to your departure date so that there is little chance of last-minute changes based on family emergencies or changes in plans. We will send you at least details about the host mother, address and phone number, but will include any and all information we have about the family and house. If you have any questions about them, don't hesitate to ask!
Q: What's an appropriate host/hostess gift to bring from home?
A: Many students bring things that represent themselves or where their from. If you're an ice skater going to a tropical country, bringing something about your sport will be interesting and exotic to them. Some students choose to bring a picture book, if you're from somewhere picturesque like Canada. Perhaps a figurine of the Statue of Liberty if you're from New York. One student brought pancake mix and syrup for her family in Spain and cooked for them, as they had never had pancakes before!
Q: Can I make calls/get calls at my homestay?
A: Generally, we recommend not to make any calls from your host family's house unless it is an emergency, and even then only with a calling card. If you receive a call, please keep it short, as most families do not have call waiting or voicemail and that is their only line. There is usually internet available at the school or internet cafes nearby, and you can Skype your family or friends for longer converstions.
Q: What if I don't like the food I'm given/can't finish it all?
A: If you have any serious allergies or dietary restrictions (vegetarian, kosher, gluten free, lactose intolerant, etc), please let us know on your application so that we can find a family who is flexible for your needs. If you are just a picky eater, try to be adventurous, you're in a new place and food is usually a large part of the culture! For any requests or needs, please be prepared to sit down with your family upon your arrival and explain your diet to them in the local language. That way, you can be sure they understand your meaning. If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to have a friend or teacher translate your ideas so that you can bring it with you!
If you have any more questions about staying with a host family or are unsure whether or not you want to stay with one, feel free to contact the AmeriSpan office 9am-5pm EST at 800-879-6640 or email@example.com