In an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, a growing number of people are travelling overseas to study at university, complete Mandarin language courses, pursue internships or merely for tourism. For all these types of travelers, homestay host families provide an affordable and attractive accommodation option – especially for those searching for short- to medium-term student accommodation. Many students choose homestay accommodation for the first few months of their time abroad, as an affordable base from which to start getting settled.
Homestay accommodation can best be described as “a home away from home experience”. More specifically, homestays are normal homes, which open their doors to accommodate people looking for short- to medium-term accommodation. If you choose homestay accommodation, you can expect to be treated as part of the family – eating, socializing and relaxing with members of the household. You will have your own bedroom and access to communal areas around the house, such as the lounge and garden.
Homestays are also often referred to as “host families”. However, they are not necessarily families in the most traditional sense. Hosts can be single people, young couples, married couples with or without children, and even retired pensioners. The advantages associated with Homestay are numerous. They are outlined below as:
1. Affordability. Homestays provide a high-quality yet relatively cheap alternative to booking a hotel or hostel. This gives international students time to settle in, and search for longer term accommodation while already in the area, rather than having to find somewhere to rent long-term while still outside the country.
2. Convenience. Although homestays are not hotels, host families generally provide essential services such as washing clothes, changes of bed linen and a selected meal plan. Meal plans can include Self-Catering (full access to the kitchen), Bed & Breakfast (prepared breakfast and some independent use of the kitchen) and Half Board (breakfast and evening meal provided). Half board options are very popular for students attending schools or universities during the day – an easy way to make sure you eat well!
3. Immersion in the local culture. When you learn Chinese in China, it is not solely about textbooks. Homestays provide the opportunity to experience everyday life in a new place, getting insights into the local culture. Host families are usually an excellent source of advice or information, able to provide indispensable tips on transport, local hang-outs and practical essentials (emergency contact numbers, local amenities etc). Talking to your host family is also an ideal way to develop language skills if needed. After having spent time in a homestay, many people stay in contact with their hosts and end up developing lasting friendships.
4. Networking Possibilities. Homestay accommodation has the potential of networking students to host families. Especially in China, students who choose homestay accommodation usually end up establishing business networks and later returning to China business. The era is dominated with the relevance of networking and its significance.
All in all, whether you are just looking for a cheaper student accommodation option or searching for a safe and comfortable way to start life in a new country, homestays are a fantastic option.
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