The Homestay Experience

I learned so much in my rural village homestay. I was able to really bond and connect with my host family. Not only was my family inviting, they were really intent on having me learn about the culture and way of life.

Ariella Schlossberg, New York, NY
China: Ethnic Minorities and Contemporary Culture

Living with a host family

Morocco homestayThroughout every program, Experimenters are actively engaged in the communities they visit, but it is through the homestay that Experimenters truly go from being a visitor of the host country to a fully immersed participant.

Through the homestay — an important component of every Experiment program — students become a member of a local family, joining in the family’s daily lives and activities. The homestay facilitates cultural immersion in both a fun and deeply meaningful way and provides a unique vantage point from which to better understand and experience the host country.

For some students, the homestay allows them to practice and enhance their language skills. For other students, the homestay offers opportunities to build lifelong friendships with host siblings and parents.

Sample homestay activities

  • Visit local markets
  • Attend sporting events
  • Cook meals together and share favorite recipes
  • Visit museums, art galleries, and music venues
  • Share stories and photos about your family and friends back home
  • Meet your host siblings’ friends
  • Meet extended family members over meals and family gatherings
  • Celebrate a cultural holiday together
  • Go biking or hiking in local parks, mountains, or other natural settings

Countless Experimenters have cited the homestay as a highlight of their summer abroad.

Homestay placements

Homestay placements are arranged in collaboration with The Experiment’s international partner offices, which are responsible for identifying, screening, and preparing local families to host Experiment participants. Families vary in occupational, educational, and economic levels and live in diverse neighborhoods, towns, and rural settings. Families might include one or more adults and may or may not include children.

Experimenters are placed together in the same town or geographic area. This allows for group get-togethers, meetings, and cultural activities and for students to easily access their leader. In some cases, groups get together for activities once or twice a week during the homestay period, giving students opportunities to share the positive, and sometimes funny, stories from their homestay experiences. The frequency of the group activities varies considerably by program.

The Experiment considers as much as possible the interests of both the student and the local host families. Because we want to provide the best homestay matches possible, homestay placement information is typically not available until shortly before program departure.

Some programs offer more than one homestay experience to provide a comparative view of family life in the host country. Rural homestays, particularly in developing countries, may expose students to settings with basic living conditions, sometimes without electricity and running water.

Staff support

Students are supported 24 hours a day throughout the homestay experience. Experiment group leaders and in-country partner staff provide space for students to voice questions or concerns throughout the program, including throughout the homestay period. In most cases, students are able to work out any misunderstandings directly with their homestay families.

The success of the homestay experience can depend largely on each participant’s willingness to join in the daily activities of their host family. While the homestay can sometimes be challenging initially, the experience leads to greater connection and cultural understanding.

Other accommodations

When not living with a homestay family, students stay in appropriate accommodations with their group and group leaders, which may include guest houses, educational institutions, hostels, or small hotels, depending on local conditions and customs.

Read more about program structure.