By Heidi Smith, World Explorers Program Manager
World Explorer Jim Ryan visited a mosque in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.
1. Embrace your host family’s culture and traditions
Living with a host family allows you to see the world through the eyes of a local. Enjoy the home cooked meals, learn a new language and try out a new cultural experience. Don’t be afraid to try new foods and speaking a new language. Immersion programs are the best ways to see the world from a different perspective. Open yourself up to take it all in!
Mind your manners and follow the house rules!
2. Respect their rules and guidelines
Remember that you are a guest in another family’s home. Respect their way of life and the rules they lay out for you. Make sure you ask a lot of questions when you arrive to avoid any problems due to miscommunication. Do your research before you arrive to understand cultural difference. Things like wearing your shoes in the house, putting your feet on the table or eating with your hands may be considered rude in other cultures.
Help out with basic chores like doing the dishes or taking out the trash.
3. Be an active member of the family
Make sure you contribute your fair share to the daily life within your host family. Imagine that you are staying in your own parents’ home. Be sure to keep your room tidy, offer to help out around the house and make a point to spend quality time with your hosts. Engage with other family members and offer ways to benefit their lives.
Rachel Lowe read children’s books to her host sisters in Beijing, China.
4. Take the time to share your language and culture
Your hosts are going to be curious about who you are and where you come from. Take time to have meaningful conversations with them about your own family back home and what life is like in your country. This experience should be a win-win for both you and the host family. You can learn from them while they can learn from you.
Don’t be a slug! Be active and keep busy!
5. Keep a routine
Try to keep yourself busy and set up a routine. Wake up at the same time every day, plan activities that get you out of the house and join your host family for meals. Keeping a routine can help you overcome homesickness and get you more involved in the local community. Don’t get caught up chatting on social media with your friends and family back home. Make the most of your day! Exercise, take a language class, volunteer in a local classroom or join a Meetup group. Take advantage of the time you have – you’ll be back home again soon enough!