Why You Should Choose a Homestay

Beachside at sunset in the Santo Antonio barrio of Florianopolis.
Beachside at sunset in the Santo Antonio barrio of Florianopolis.

There are a lot of reasons people choose to study abroad. You may want to see the world, experience a different culture, learn a new language or just get away to somewhere that helps you grow and flourish as a person. Regardless, you have to choose your living option for the time that you’re there. You could stay in an apartment, or maybe a dorm with the other international students in your program. Or, you could choose a homestay. I will tell you why you should.

A Strong Support System

I decided to Study Abroad in Brazil for the Summer of 2016. I had never studied any Portuguese before, and I had never traveled outside the United States. Needless to say, I was a little in over my head. Thankfully my host family has been there every day to make me feel welcome and supported. From a daily good morning to sitting together at dinner and talking about our days, I have always felt like I was cared for and considered. Going abroad can be really scary, and you will probably go through culture shock, but your host family makes the transition easier just like your family back home would.

Reading to my host family’s 4 year old, William. I read him The Lion King in Portuguese while he dosed next to me.
Reading to my host family’s 4 year old, William. I read him The Lion King in Portuguese while he dosed next to me.

Language Practice

If you go abroad to a country that speaks a language besides English, do not waste the opportunity to become acquainted with and learn as much of the host country’s language as possible. More than likely your host family will not speak a lot of English. Which sounds terrifying, but is a great thing for motivating yourself to learn. If I had chosen an apartment living option, I can promise you that I would not have retained a whole lot of the information I was given during my classes. With the homestay option, I came home and immediately applied the words and grammar that I learned to communicate with my host family. It made my progress with Portuguese impressive.



Gourmet Burger night! My host dad loves to cook and makes many wonderful meals for us.

Cultural Immersion

I saved the best for last! Experiencing a different culture is so important for your time abroad, in fact it is paramount! Seeing the world from an entirely different perspective facilitates personal growth that you will benefit from for the rest of your life, and there isn’t a better way to do that than by living with a family that can tell you all about it. The littlest things like staying at the table to talk after dinner is done, to larger things like attending a Brazilian surprise birthday party are all insights to a different world that you are being allowed to experience and live in. Sure, you could probably still accomplish this if you lived on your own and you made a lot of friends with locals, but it’s much easier and natural when you are taken in as a member of the family.

This is definitely a biased piece. My host family has been incredibly wonderful! They have included me in so much and I can’t begin to list all the ways that its impacted me. If you get the chance, choose a homestay to make the most of your time abroad.

Brian Flake
University of Tulsa ‘17
Petroleum Engineering
Florianopolis, Brazil Summer 2016

Brian Flake is a senior petroleum engineering student at The University of Tulsa. When he isn’t doing drilling engineering calculations or reading technical manuals, he likes to stay highly involved on campus with groups like Future Alumni Council, University Ambassadors and New Student Programs.