In some study abroad programs you may have the option to decide between living in an apartment or with a host family. It can be a hard decision and one that can greatly affect your summer (or semester). I switched from an apartment to a home-stay at the last second and for me, I think it was the right decision, but I want to share some of the pros and cons I’ve experienced to help you decide which is best for you.
The good: food, culture, immersion
I am a big fan of food (just look how happy I am eating these churros in Girona), so the biggest upside, in my opinion, is the food. My host family cooks us (two other students live in the apartment) a giant meal every dinner and we all eat together. The food is great, and I’ve been able to get a sampling of the local cuisine without having to spend a lot of money at various restaurants. One of the best meals we’ve had so far was a seafood paella. A good paella at a restaurant can get very expensive, and none of the paellas I’ve had so far have been nearly as good as my host dad’s. On a similar note, you can save a lot of money on food by staying with a host family. I still pay for lunches, but not having to spend money on groceries or at a restaurant every day for dinner has saved me more than a few euros (which I’ve been able to spend on fun trips and experiences instead).
Eating dinner with my host family contributes to the benefits regarding immersion and culture. I only speak Spanish with them, so the constant practice has allowed me to greatly improve my fluency (a goal I had for this trip). I’ve also learned a lot about the local culture and they’ve given many recommendations for places to go.
The not so good: less flexibility
The one downside I’ve experienced is slightly less independence and freedom to hang out with friends. I don’t have the freedom to invite friends to come over like I would with an apartment, and if I want my ‘free’ dinner I must be home at 8:30 pm every day, which can feel a little constricting. Of course, I can just let my host family know I won’t be home for dinner and grab food elsewhere if I want, so it’s not actually a huge problem, but an apartment would certainly afford more flexibility.
Overall staying with a host family has only made my experience in Barcelona better. This is likely my last post, so if you’ve read all three of my blogs: thanks for following along with my Barcelona journey! I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with y’all and I hope y’all have enjoyed them as well 🙂
This post was contributed by Cameron Goff, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Cameron’s internship in Spain>>