Gettysburg College students live with host families on most of our programs abroad. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to be immersed culturally and often linguistically in their host country community. Our students find living with a host family to be very rewarding. Learn a bit more about this unique and meaningful part of study abroad below.
A homestay is a type of living arrangement in which a student stays with a host country family during their time abroad. The student will live in the home, share meals, and enjoy exposure to different cultural traditions and events with their host family.
Gettysburg College has placed an institutional priority on homestays as a preferred living arrangement while abroad. Therefore, when this is option is available on a Gettysburg College Affiliated Program, students will be placed in a homestay. Homestays afford a greater level of cultural and linguistic integration than other housing options by engaging students in the daily life of their host culture. Students who do not want to participate in a homestay should look at programs that do not offer them. However, we encourage students not to let feelings of uncertainty about living in a homestay stand in the way of this important cultural opportunity.
The term “Host Family” is broad and inclusive. Our program partners do an excellent job of matching our students up with compatible host families. This could be a family with children at home, a couple with adult children no longer living at home, a single person, or a young professional couple. Host families are modestly compensated for the cost of hosting students, but all volunteer because of their desire for cross-cultural interaction. These families are very carefully vetted by our program partners. Many host families have been hosting students for a long time and keep in touch with their former students for years after their time together.
Each of our program partners has a staff member in charge of coordinating housing for students. This housing coordinator takes the student’s living preferences, desired level of interaction, interests, and needs into account when finding a good host family match. Most often students are very happy with their host family, on the occasions that it isn’t a good fit, students can request to be moved to a different homestay.
Students may be placed in urban, suburban, or rural locations. There are many variables that housing coordinators take into account when placing students in homestays, therefor the commuting times may vary from 15 minutes to over 1 hour. It is important for students to remember that as a member of a residential community commuting is a natural part of life, both here and abroad.
Once the semester cohort has been accepted by the program provider and the students have submitted their housing preferences, the housing coordinator begins placements. Because of this process, students will be given information about their host family shortly before their departure.