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Study Abroad Blog

Should you live with a host family? YES!

When it came to studying abroad, there were so many (too many) hard choices that I had to make. Where do I want to study abroad? Costa Rica? Chile? Spain? Argentina? When do I want to go? Fall? Spring? Summer? How many classes should I take? Four? Five? Should I live independently or with a host family? …
 My bedroom that has a beautiful view of the mountains.

I like to think that I did pretty well making up my mind as I weighed the pros and cons of each of the many questions that arose as I planned my semester abroad. However, the host family question really had me stuck for a while. Typically, I’m a very independent person. I like to have the freedom to come and go as I please, eat when I’m hungry, leave my room a little messy if I am having a busy week, etc.. The thought of being a guest in someone's home for 4 months seemed a little daunting and very exhausting. Eventually, I came to the consensus that I would go out on a limb and try living with a host family. Little did I know this would be the best decision I had made to date (besides studying in Costa Rica, obviously).
 My Mama Tica has painted all the artwork in our house. You can see one of her paintings in this photo!

Top 3 reasons why you NEED to live with a host family (wherever you end up studying)

1)   Cultural immersion. If you are trying to really get to know and understand the culture of your new country, there is no better way than to live with a host family. They cook you traditional food, include you in typical family activities, and in general just show you how people customarily live in your host country.

2)   Improving your language skills. My Spanish was mediocre at best. I was not very confidant speaking Spanish when I first got here. However, my host family doesn’t speak any English so it was a sink or swim situation (I didn’t have roommates for my first month here!). It forced me to really try, and yes, I made a ton of mistakes, but my host family helped me and I was always able to get my point across to them. In over 2 months my Spanish has improved too much to even attempt to measure.

3)   They remind you of your own family. Now I’m not the type of person to get homesick, but it is just comforting to live in a familial setting when you are so far from your own family. While my host family is very different from my family in the US at first glance, after getting to know them I see so many little similarities in our family dynamics. For example, I think my host mom worries about me just as much as my mother does in New Jersey.

Maybe I’m so pro-host family because mine is just so amazing. They do so much to make sure that I am included in their family and happy in Costa Rica. They are always there to answer any of my questions and help me with my Spanish homework when I need it. My host mom (we call them Mama Ticas in Costa Rica) is an amazing cook. My roommates and I are incredibly lucky to have been welcomed so warmly into this foreign place. No doubt about it, I’ll be missing this amazing family, too, much when I head back to the States.

So do it, live with a host family whenever/wherever you have the option. It will be a great experience, but remember that you get what you put into it!

 My daily walk home in San José.

¡Pura Vida!

Peyton Black is the CEA MOJO in San José, Costa Rica. She is currently a Junior at College of Charleston.

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