Imagine you visit a country and you have such a great experience you fall in love with the place. But you have to contend with hotel fees or hostel fees. As a foreigner the expenses will become too much at some point. Then you wish you had a cheaper place to stay to extend your holiday or your experience. What do you do next? You go to your laptop and hit Google and your type “cheap hotels or hostels and lodgings” plus country off course. Then you find out the fees you are paying are the almost the same or cheaper but poorer quality.
Now you are stumped and you don’t know what to do next. Then you remember about home stays where you live with a family for a really low fee. You find out that the fees you are paying at your hotel is worth two or three weeks worth at a home stay. You quickly move out in order to save money and have more fun. Then you go to live with a family. From my experience it’s great to live with a family and also since I have hosted a few foreigners I have a wealth of knowledge I can give to all of you.
My first experience as a guest in my cheap hotel (home stay) was great. I was welcomed as an honored guest, honestly hotels don’t do that for you, it was a modest home where they had the basics. They had electricity, running water, and a hot shower (yeah!!!). The family at the beginning was great and we shared all our meals together and I felt as part of the family. But the longer I stayed the harder it became for me and the family.
At first I thought it was the family has a problem not me. I told myself I am going to be the host this time and I will let a foreigner to come and stay in my home. I got one; I swore to myself that I will be best host ever. Making sure that I will be as flexible as I can and make sure the person is more comfortable than s/he at their home. I went out and bought stuff that I thought he needed. I made sure his room was comfortable, had a wireless internet connection for his laptop. And I was there for him for anything that he wanted or needed. He left for home after his great holiday in my home country. We had fun together I must say, he taught me a few foreign words and I taught him my language as well.
Living with my guest and living as a guest in another country has taught me a few things which I would love to share with you. The first thing I want to say is that the problem is not with you or the host family. The problem is that when we live together there must be some conflict even though we try to please each other. When you live with someone, even your relative you will always have some conflict here and there. But the trick is to minimize the conflict so that staying together doesn’t become a burden to both of you.
Secondly as a guest in a person’s home, you are there to see how they are living and their culture. You are not meant to impose your beliefs or your views on how they live. They have been living that way for a long time and after you they will keep living the way they do. Even though you think you are right and they are wrong (and they could be seriously wrong) it’s their way of life and we are there as guests to experience it.
Lastly I think bringing small gifts will take you a long way. Not expensive gifts like a HD camera, small things like sweets from your home country, or small ornamental things like bracelets and stuff. Those gifts from my experience as a guest make your stay more enjoyable and you will be more welcomed. We all love getting gifts, when you are in a new place the best way to break the ice is to start by giving gifts.
Staying with a host family is great and a cheap. This way you will be able to get more form your holiday or volunteer travel, or your intern stay. Living in hotels or hostels is a plastic life and you want more from your experience. I suggest the best thing to do is to live with a family.