One of the big factors that caused a lot of anxiety before my study abroad experience was my choice of residency. Prior to my study abroad experience, I was torn between choosing the homestay option or living in a student dorm like residence. From the stories I had heard of previous students that studied abroad, I felt like I was stuck at a crossroad. I really wanted to immerse myself in the culture and live like a local would and I felt the best way to do this was by living with a local family as given; however, some hesitation came with the fact that I was really nervous about culture shock, expectations from the family, and rules/restrictions. I had heard stories of students that felt restricted by their host parents/family that it affected their overall study abroad experience and I did not want to end up in this situation or anything similar.
DIS made the transition to living in a homestay as seamless as possible by having me write a letter to my future host family and having them reach out to me once we have been connected. I was apprehensive at first, but once my host mother reached out and began having conversations with me, I became a bit more excited to be in Sweden and live with her family. She was there to pick me up from the airport and after a nice car ride spent discussing life in Sweden, she made me feel at home by allowing me to familiarize myself with the house where I would be spending the semester. The singular drawback that I recognized at the beginning of this journey was that being in a homestay alone did not allow me to meet any of my peers as soon as the students living in residential communities did. However, DIS had a program for homestay students that allowed us to meet each other, and once classes began, I was able to meet a lot more people and get to know everyone.
I am very happy with my decision to live in a homestay and I would recommend it to every/anyone. My host family made me feel completely welcomed in all aspects and my experience abroad would have been very different if they were not a part of it. They are my conduit to life in Sweden and teach me things about the culture that I would not have otherwise learned. They also allow me to gain a more enriched experience, as I often ask my host mom and sister questions about things that I may have heard at school or learned in class. I am very appreciative to DIS for making this opportunity a possibility and I hope that other students take a chance and live in a homestay when they choose to go on their study abroad experiences. You may think that there are many things that could go wrong, but many more things could go absolutely right.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and see you soon.