I want to tell you about my experience living with a host family for the last few weeks. It is absolutely the best experience one could have! Every
host family is different so you may not have the same accommodations and situations as I do. Here are some things that took some getting used to for me.
- They cook every meal for you. My host mom has done all the cooking for me since I have been here. She enjoys doing this for me. She tells me all the time she is happy I like everything she makes. I also enjoy this because I can focus on my studies and get to enjoy Costa Rican cooking. She makes some really good food. One of my favorites is a Costa Rican green bean fried with an egg. Who knew green beans and eggs would be so good together. She also makes me fresh juice every day!
- They do your laundry. My host mom does my laundry every week. Again, this is helpful because I can focus on my studies. I will come home and my laundry will be folded on my bed ready for me to put them away. The funny thing about this is she fell in love with my laundry detergent. Costa Rican laundry detergent is very harsh on your clothes. It can fade your clothes in one wash! I used their detergent last time I was here so this time I brought my own. It is Molly Suds, very natural and gentle on clothes. My host mom has requested my fiancé bring her some when he comes next week because she likes it so much.
- Taking quick showers. Since most homes use solar power or suicide showers you have to take a quick shower so that there is hot water for everyone else. My host family is a wealth family so they have a solar powered heater for their shower.
Other people in more course do not. They have a suicide shower or electric shower head. There are wires going to the shower head. These wires heat the water as it is leaving the shower head. I have used one before and they are scary looking.
I was told by my school that many of their host families do your laundry and cooking because they are afraid you will break something such as the stove or washing machine. I don’t mind because I have more time for school work and other things.
Here are somethings that I love about staying with a host family.
- They have the best recommendations. My host mother has helped me find the best places to go shopping and getting things done. I needed a small purse and some rainboots. She helped me find the perfect purse and rainboots. There are some clothing stores here in Barva yet the best place to go for shopping is in Heredia. It is about a 20 minute bus ride away. I found a cute purse from Payless shoes and
rainboots at a local store. I also wanted to get a pedicure. There is only one spot in Barva that does them. I wanted to make sure they were good. She said they were. She also said they her sister in law does pedicures at home. She called to ask her sister in law. Since she was busy she said to go to the place in town. The place doesn’t compare to the US yet they did a great job so I cannot complain.
- They are native speakers. I was setting up my Costa Rican cell phone and kept getting a message. I had no clue what it was says so I asked my host mom to listen and tell me what I needed to do. Then she told me the best place to get minutes added to my phone was in town. This happened to be the Mega Super grocery store. Since my host mom came with me shopping it made it easier for her to talk with the employees about what I was looking for. It made the shopping experiences go faster because I didn’t have to rely on google translate and hand gestures.
Everyone has different experiences with host families. I have heard stories about the most wonderful experiences and the worst experiences. The first week I was with my host family I was the only one here. During my second week, I came home and there was a guy in the other room. I found my host mom and she explained to me that he was studying at the University. He needed to leave his old home stay for reasons that were not fully explained to me. I do know that the environment in which he was living was hostile. He is much happier here and I like having someone who speaks good English and good Spanish to talk to.
With all that said, you should try staying with a host family when traveling abroad for a long period of time. You could stay with a host family for a short time just to get the experience. That is what I plan on doing. Once school is done and I find a job I want my own apartment.
It is a great experience in many ways. You definitely do not want to miss out on the opportunity. Some schools provide them for their students as a cheap option and others do not. There is a website called homestay.com that provides this opportunity for people. I have never used it. I do know some people who have.
Get out there and explore!