Homestay Etiquette

Many of you go abroad to gain independence and escape the safety bubble of your community and university. Friends, family and familiar scenery is replaced with strange smells, food, people and a family that you may or may not be able to communicate with. All of this is exciting, driving you to do and experience more.

All that being said, I’m sure you first time homestayers are a bit apprehensive about the prospects of living under the roof of parental surrogates and how that will influence your extracurricular activities. Rest assured, your homestay families are not there to keep you prisoner. They are there for guidance and support and might even welcome the idea of you taking in the night life.

However, in order to ensure that your nocturnal activities do not create an unhealthy relationship between you and your host family, there are four rules I recommend you follow.

  1. Enter quietly: A night on the town leaves one tired and sometimes confused. In addition, how is one supposed to navigate the intricate system of locks and gates in the middle of the night? Make sure to hone your skills during daylight hours so as not to become a nuisance to your family should you enter the house before sunrise.
  2. Tell your family where you are going: No longer are the days when you gave limited information to your parents in an attempt at damage control from something you did or will do. Your host families will be genuinely interested in what is happening with young people in their country, not to mention your safety. Be honest, let them know where you are going and doing, they might even let you know of some good places to go.
  3. Whatever you do, don’t raid the fridge: Many are partial to a late night snack after spending the night dancing, chatting and mingling with all the new and interesting people. If this is the case, make sure to take a snack with you or eat before you come home. Banging around dishes in the kitchen in the middle of the night is sure to wake up even the deepest of sleepers. Besides, who wants to be the one that eats that special cultural dish that your family was saving for a later date?
  4. Don’t invite friends over to spend the night without prior approval: Two can cause more trouble than one. Bringing others back to your homestay without prior approval is a sure way to do something that your family might not approve of.

If you follow these four rules, I guarantee there will be no ill will between you and your homestay family. The next lesson will be what to say to your homestay family when you come home at 2 am to find a giant rat drinking out of the dog bowl. True story.

–  Pablo Hester, DUSA Peer Advisor

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