3 Replies from Mentors
Rae RaeSenior Year StudentLoyola Marymount UniversityI stayed with a host family when I was in France and I stayed in a dorm-type apartment with other students from my school when I was in London. In my personal opinion, staying with students from my school was much more beneficial. Staying in a host family can be a great experience; it may give you greater opportunity to learn the language/culture and give you a support system as well. But I was placed in a family that did not suit my needs at all. I’ve also heard many stories about disaster host families. But don’t be worried! I’ve heard wonderfully positive stories about host families from the vast majority of people. You must remember that you are taking a risk in living with people who know nothing about you- similar to moving into college your freshman year. You probably will make new friends for life, but there’s a tiny chance things won’t go so well either. I would not recommend living completely by yourself. Most times (unless you are fluent in the language or traveled to your host country many times before) you are too unaware of customs to live totally alone. If you can live with other students arranged by your school, or with a friend or family member that is different. But during your time abroad you will need some support system.
PriscillaGraduate StudentUniversity of California at BerkeleyIt depends on the individual student. If you have never spent much time away from home or outside of the country and you feel like you need more support, a host family would probably be the best option. Staying with a host family is a great way to be introduced to the country’s culture and if you are learning the local language, just speaking with your host family can be quite helpful. For those students who would like a little more independence, but still need some structure, a dormitory would be a good option. If, however, you need a lot more independence, living on your own would be best. But I would definitely recommend living with a roommate, because living completely on your own in a foreign country can sometimes be lonely and may make you feel a bit disconnected.
HannaUndergraduate StudentThe University of ChicagoI think staying with a host family would be much better, because it allows you to practice the language and better absorb the culture and customs of the place where you're staying.