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Meet the Shane Family: Life in a Homestay
Once you’ve committed to studying abroad, the next step is figuring out where you want to live during the course of your stay. Whether you choose to live with a host family or in a student residence, Kaplan ensures that you are prepared for the transition into your new home and that everything is comfortable and easy for your arrival.
The Shane family has been hosting international students for the past two years in Philadelphia, an American city rich in history and culture. They understand how daunting it can be to move to an unfamiliar place with very little grasp of the native language, so they make sure that the transition for new students is as welcoming and enjoyable as possible.
Prior to each new homestay arrival, we will reach out to the student and make contact via email and Skype. We have found that with the video call, we are able to answer a lot of questions and ease concerns and stress prior to physically meeting each other in person.
This is an important step in the days before our students arrive. Although we provide plenty of information about the city, how to get around, and what there is to do, speaking with the host family can offer an insight into what your day-to-day life will consist of outside of the classroom. It's also nice to arrive in a new city and already have met your host family!
Dealing with homesickness
One of the most important ways we deal with homesickness is to truly treat our students as family. We encourage them to understand they are not alone.
Homesickness is a common symptom when moving to a new place, and many of our homestay families understand new students are missing their friends and family back home. The Shane family understands how important it is to constantly involve their students in their lives and make sure they are comfortable in their new environment; something as simple as asking them about their day can go a long way, especially when it gives them the chance to practice their English skills.
Immerse fully in the local culture
We engage in communication frequently and often bring our students to family events and events around the city when we attend.
When living with a family, you’ll learn what it feels like to live like a local and experience a different side to the country you are visiting. Life in homestay also means you are always encouraged to constantly speak English when you are at home and when you are out exploring your new environment, which allows you to quickly become confident in the language. Visiting popular attractions in your city can gain new meaning when you see them through the eyes of someone who is local to that town. They might even provide some interesting facts you might not have found in a guide book!
Build an international family
I try to imagine my daughter or son living in another country with a homestay family. These thoughts alone help us understand the importance of communication, inclusion, and listening, and how they play a role in our relationship with our student.
The Shane family is aware of how vital their role is in a new student’s life, and for this reason they ensure they are treated as extended members of their international family. They create the sort of environment they would like to be welcomed into, ensuring that everyone is comfortable, happy, and getting the most out of their experience. Because you will be sharing your homestay with other students from all over the world, not only will you create a relationship with your new host parents, you will also build strong bonds with the other students in your house. These are friendships you will keep with you even after you’ve returned to your home country!
My advice for new students: ask as many questions as you can think of, welcome new ideas, try new foods, and speak English as much as possible.
Why not study English in Philadelphia, meet the friendly locals, and explore this old American city. Here's an insight into our school in Philadelphia.