Would you stay in someone else's home during your study abroad?
Bonding with your host family is just one of the advantages of homestays. Source: Shutterstock

Nothing gets you closer to the pulse of a foreign city than living in a long-time resident’s home.

This is where you get to observe locals going through the daily grind, their work and schooling schedules, as well as the little details on how life unfolds in this strange new place you now call home.

It should come as no surprise then that more and more universities are capitalising on homestays as an alternative accommodation option for incoming international students.

One such institution is Canada’s Georgian College whose homestay program entails local families taking in an international student to stay with them.

Empty nesters Tom and Maureen Staples are one of the couples on this program. With six out of seven children grown up and moved away, it was the obvious choice to welcome international students into their home.

“We were so used to having children around – and a full house. It was just a no-brainer,” explained Maureen.

“I get to have new daughters and new sons, from all over the world.”

Today, the Staples host two South American students: 22-year-old Aurora Abigail Gavilanes Vargas and 30-year-old Johanna Ogliastri Herrera who hail from Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Other Canadian universities that have incorporated homestays into their accommodation programs are the University of Ottawa, York University, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, etc.

The perks of living with a Canadian family as an international student are many and varied. In addition to having a family to go home to, international students also get to experience local culture as well as see their English improve tremendously.

Downsides do exist, such as the clash of cultures or that awkward feeling you get when you just met someone.

Speaking to Meld MagazineTrinity College’s Housing and Accommodation Manager Jennifer Walsh said students would, “spend such a long time travelling every day that they have much less time for study than their peers who live near the school”.

Yet, homestays can still be the better option compared to traditional student halls for the first-year international student.

International student Nu Nu at Trinity College in Australia said it’s a great choice for those looking for cheap and short-term accommodation, as “other options are expensive and they require students to stay for at least six months”.

Furthermore, some homestays come with all three daily meals provided for seven days a week and on public transport routes close to the college or university. What’s not to love?

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