Don’t just visit- LIVE IT!

Most people will tell you having spent a month or more in Canada- whether studying ESL, doing a high-school academic year, working in internship, or perhaps a working holiday on a ranchstay or farmstay- it’s the people you meet, who make the experience. And homestay is all about meeting people. What will you remember a decade after you return to your home country?  Above and beyond everything else, the thing you will best remember, that will define your Canada experience, will be the people– the homestay you lived with, who took you in as one of their own, who made you a part of their family. Homestay is much more than a place to sleep and eat: Homestay is about learning a culture from the inside, out. Homestay is about bonding with real people. Homestay is real life. And life is what makes memories. Homestay is an investment- you get out what you put in, with interest! But as with anything involving people, homestay takes some work and understanding on your part. Hosts are people with personalities, thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs, just like any other people.  To the degree that you invest in your experience and make the effort to really get to know your homestay, you will be rewarded many times over. Be friendly. Make the effort to interact and communicate.  Give a little, get a lot! Your host family will always appreciate your efforts. And if you don’t have the highest level of English yet, try to interact in other ways; offer to help prepare a meal together -or on your own, as part of a special cultural sharing experience. If cooking is not your thing, offer to set the table or wash the vegetables before a meal. Play fetch with the dog, join the kids in a board game- It’s not so much about what you do, as about showing your host family that you are part of the family, and that you want to be treated as such. Taking initiative gives your homestay family the message that you want to get to know them and be an active member in their home. And never forget the power of a simple “Please” and “Thank you”.  Getting close with real people under real circumstances is powerful. You may never have the chance to make another homestay experience again during the course of your future life travels, so remember: “Don’t just visit- LIVE IT!”

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