The experience of a study trip abroad is undoubtedly an exciting and engaging challenge. Exploring new territories and meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds are aspects that enrich students' personal growth. And even more so if students choose to stay with a local family. In fact, being a guest means having to interact with individuals who are totally foreign to one's own language, culture and habits. This situation can be stimulating and at the same time complex, as it requires an adequate period of adaptation. Indeed, it is not uncommon for difficulties initially to arise in living together, but facing these challenges can offer great opportunities for growth and learning.
In fact, it is probable that during a stay in English you will have to adapt to a different lifestyle. Starting from food, schedules and in general to a unique set of domestic rules. It is important to remember one aspect: what is different from what we are used to does not necessarily equate to something negative. It's about changing one's point of view and, why not, questioning one's mental patterns. We all have habits, but sometimes it's when we step out of our comfort zone that we grow and become better.
Thus cultural contrasts offer the possibility of knowing a different reality and of embracing differences as an integral part of life. In a short time some aspects that seemed insurmountable could become the norm.
Therefore, not getting scared is the best thing to do. It is important not to withdraw and be intimidated, but to embrace the new experience for what it is. That is, a temporary and unique opportunity to find out something about another country and maybe something about yourself. However, every family has habits and rules. And it is right to know how to integrate and respect them. Below we list some good rules of conduct that could make a stay in English a truly enjoyable experience.
When the two parties don't know each other it's normal to be a little intimidated. You have to take measures and understand how to communicate. This is a little more complicated than usual when the two parties don't speak the same language. Therefore, giving a gift is a great way to break the ice. A good idea is to bring something from the country of origin, which recalls a different tradition and culture from that of the host family. This will get to know more about the guest and could be a good starting point for the first conversation.
Even though the language difference can be a barrier, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't speak up. If you don't understand something, be honest and try to communicate as much as possible. Furthermore, for special needs or food intolerances, it is essential to inform the host family immediately. While they may already have this information from your documents, it's always best to reiterate these details.
It 's the case of some allergies, or a different diet. Instead of staying silent and refusing food, it is much better to inform and discuss these aspects in advance. However, to be polite, it's better to try everything before refusing a dish, maybe it might not be so bad.
On an English holiday it's normal to be busy. But once the lessons are over, it is good to balance the time with the classmates of the summer English courses and the new family. Don't underestimate the opportunity to participate in everyday activities, such as shopping or walking the dog. Engaging in these activities provides a unique opportunity to bond with family members and develop your language skills.
Sharing food is another very important aspect. Sitting down to eat together is a social experience that brings people together from all over the world. Try to be present at mealtimes and do your part when it comes to preparing food or cleaning up. Eating together is an excellent opportunity to bond with others and improve your language skills, in a relaxed and pleasant environment. If you have culinary skills, you can consider preparing a dish from your homeland, so as to enrich the cultural exchange.
Even if you pay for accommodation during your English stay, it is important to remember that you are living with a host family. This means respecting their schedules, even if they are different from your own. It means arriving on time for meals or advising in advance if not. It is good to remember that, although there is no parent-child bond, these people still take care of the well-being of their guests as if they were their own children, so it is a duty to reciprocate with due respect.
Furthermore, it is essential to keep your space tidy and avoid spreading things around the house. Don't expect others to tidy up. An English holiday also serves to become more responsible and organised. You could also offer to participate in household chores and help out when other family members are busy. Whatever you do, however, it is essential to be polite and use the words "please" and "thank you".
Overcoming the fear of making a mistake is the main step in learning a new language. Just as overcoming one's habits and viewpoints is the main step in learning a new culture. A stay in English with a host family is an excellent opportunity to learn to communicate and improve your English. You have the opportunity to learn idioms, phrases and expressions that are not usually taught in textbooks.
So communicate as much as you can and try to make the most of this experience.
Even if a stay in English with a family will seem a bit difficult at first, when it comes time to say goodbye, you will understand what a unique experience it has been. And how much it will be in one's memories and in one's future. But it doesn't always have to be goodbye. Genuine friendships last long, even after you leave. You have shared an important period of your life. It would be nice to stay in touch and maybe one day meet again.