More and more people are deciding to study abroad and like when doing anything overseas you have several options of where to stay. The common choices are to stay by yourself in an apartment or hotel, live with other volunteers in an apartment or house or stay with a host family. Your options will depend on whether you go by yourself or with a program but if possible, one of the best decisions you can make is to stay with a host family. Here are just some of the advantages you will notice if you decide to do that.
Part of the reason that you have chosen to volunteer abroad instead of domestically is probably to learn about a new culture. If you are living by yourself or even with other international volunteers, you will have less chance of being exposed to the culture. You will miss out on traditional holidays as well as the simple things such as family interactions. If you live with a host family, however, they will adopt you as part of their family and take you with them on family celebrations such as birthdays as well as encourage you to take part in any holidays, giving you a great opportunity to absorb the culture.
Learn The History
One of the most interesting things to do while in another country is to learn about its history including what made it the way it is today. While you could read a book or go to a museum, host families give you a much simpler opportunity to do this. You will be able to simply talk to them about past events and maybe even get new insights that you would not have gotten from a book. If you are talking about more recent history, you may even be able to get a first-hand account.
If you are volunteering in a country where they do not speak your native language, you will have a better chance of picking it up in a host family. Consider for a moment what would happen if you were to live alone; who would you practice with? Similarly international volunteers tend to talk in English and when they do talk to each other in the host language, they are much more likely to make errors. If you are in a family, you will not only be constantly speaking and listening to the language, but they will always use the proper form. If you really want to improve, you can even ask them to correct you when you make mistakes.
A key part of any culture is their food and it is much more difficult to try new dishes when on your own. While you could go to a restaurant, you would not know how to make the dish yourself. When you live in a host family, you will eat traditional food almost every day and even better, learn how to make it yourself so you can continue eating your favorite dishes even when you return home.
Easier To Adapt
Moving to a new place is a bit intimidating at first as you will have to get used to everything new. It is even more difficult to find your way around, especially if you do not speak the language. If you have a host family, however, they can help guide you by physically showing you around the area as well as giving you tips of the best places to hang out with friends or go to relax.
If you are concerned about safety, then staying with a host family is a great idea. That is because while you will not know which areas of a foreign city to avoid, your host family will. They have lived in that area for years so they can tell you which areas are safe, which are fine when you are with someone else and which ones you should never visit. They will also help keep an eye out on you in terms of general safety to make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Make More Friends
One of the best things about living in a host family is that you will not have to worry as much about meeting new people. You will of course have your immediate host family, but you will also have their extended family and family friends. They will probably also introduce you to local shopkeepers and other people in the community. The best situation is if you have a host sibling that is the same age as you as you will have the perfect chance to make a new friend and get to know their friends as well, greatly expanding your social circle.
Keep Up With Current Events
Moving to a new place is daunting and adjusting can take up a great deal of your time. That means that for a lot of volunteers, certain things such as current events can get pushed to the side. Even if you do try to stay updated, you will have to try to keep up with news of your home country as well as the country you are volunteering in. A host family can help you with that as they will most likely encourage conversations about news and events during family meals. You will not only get the news, but another perspective as well.
Almost all volunteers, especially those who spend an extended time volunteering in another country, eventually want to go back for a visit. If you stay in a host family, you will have a built-in excuse to come back: you have to visit your family. Most likely they will be so glad to see you that they will offer you a place to stay, saving you money on a hotel as well.
Of course one of the greatest benefits of staying with a host family is that they will in turn become a part of your family. This means that simply by volunteering abroad you will gain an extra set of relatives that can be there for you through the good and the bad. You will share great memories with them that can last for a lifetime.