Search
Close this search box.
SSA fingerprint logo, Make an impression

An inside look at living with a host family abroad

Host Family Interview Katie Kaelin

Table of Contents

You’ve chosen your dream destination, you know what classes you need to take abroad and you’ve been approved to leave your home campus for the semester or even the whole year. 

Amazing! At this point, now you are probably wondering where you are going to live. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options, but luckily you don’t have to stress about that when you go on a program with Spanish Studies Abroad. 

Almost all of our students live with host families and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Plus students rave about perks such as improved language skills, feeling more integrated in their host city and having a sense of “home” abroad.

Want to know more about what it’s like living in a homestay? Read about Katie’s experience below. Katie is a recent graduate from St. Catherine’s University in Minnesota who spent the academic year of 2018-2019 in Alicante, Spain in the International Studies Program.

What made you decide to live with a host family abroad? 

Before applying to Spanish Studies Abroad I knew I wanted to live with a host family to fully immerse myself into the culture and learn the language. I couldn’t be happier with my decision. 

 Anniversary Lunch Celebrating My Host Parents, Lirios And Pepe's Wedding Anniversary With All Of The Family.
Anniversary Lunch: Celebrating my host parents, Lirios and Pepe’s wedding anniversary with all of the family.

How did your language skills improve from living with a local family? 

Immensely!! I could notice differences in my ability to speak after 2 weeks of being with my host family. Having that consistency, and not being able to fall back on English really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Recently I have found notes that I had written down while I was abroad, filled with new vocabulary words and phrases, and looking back at the differences it’s crazy! 

 Grandkids Over Some Of The Grandkids Had Come Over After School While Their Parents Were Working. My Host Mom's Sisters' Exchange Student, Haruka Was Also Over!
Grandkids Over: Some of the grandkids had come over after school while their parents were working. My host mom’s sisters’ exchange student, Haruka was also over! 

What kind of person would do well living with a host family? 

Overall I feel like any person in the end can live with a host family. Obviously it helps if you can really push yourself to converse and socialize with them, but they won’t force you to do stuff. How involved you are with your host family is all based on you as an individual. With that being said, I truly believe that living with a host family is a great opportunity to grow in more ways than that of living in an apartment or student residence/dorms, but if you’re wanting that type of living, they won’t disrespect that. 

 Mom And Host Fam Santa María Lirios And Pepe Gave My Mom A Tour Of Alicante When My Family Had Come To Pick Me Up In May. We Stopped At The Basilica Of Santa María.
– Mom and Host Fam Santa María: Lirios and Pepe gave my mom a tour of Alicante when my family had come to pick me up in May. We stopped at the Basilica of Santa María. 

What were some challenging aspects about living in a home stay, and how did you overcome them? 

Going in, I was stressed about the consistent communication piece. In that, yes, I was studying Spanish at university back in the states – but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold a perfect conversation with my host parents all the time! That was something I quickly got over. Once you stop worrying about how you sound and accepting that you will make mistakes, your language and communication skills will increase exponentially. Your host family is a great resource, and they are there to help you and teach you about the Spanish language and culture. 

 Hike In Alcoi With One Of My Host Family's Daughters And Her Family After A Hike In Alcoi.
– Hike in Alcoi: With one of my host family’s daughters and her family after a hike in Alcoi.

What advice would you give to someone who is going to live with a host family for the first time? 

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Understanding that yes, you may be nervous, but being upfront and communicating your likes and dislikes right off the bat is useful! Also, in those situations where you’re invited to go somewhere with your host family – and maybe you’re nervous about it – GO! Step out of your comfort zone! Challenge yourself! A lot of my favorite memories are when I was with my host family. 

Post Hike
Post Hike With My Host Mom, And One Of My Host Family’s Daughters And Her Family After A Hiking Fundraiser.

Any favorite memories/moments from your experience? 

Any birthday celebration and family gathering. It was the most wonderful kind of chaos I have experienced. There’d be the grandchildren running around, and I’d have trouble hearing myself speak. Then after, I’d be so tired and full from eating all day. But in those moments being with them all, there was so much joy in one space. I am beyond grateful for those times.

Birthday Celebrations
Birthday Celebration: 1 of 3 rounds of lighting and blowing out candles. I can’t even remember how many birthdays we had celebrated that day. I got to blow out my birthday candles with the twins (2 of my host family’s grandchildren).

Table of Contents

More To Explore

Start studying abroad with SSA Education Abroad

Step 1. Choose your program

Choose your program!

Choose your program by destination, term, or subject.

Step 2. Start your Appliction

Start your application

Launch your application and complete the required paperwork

Step Three. Acceptance and deposit

Acceptance & Deposit

Once you've submitted all your paperwork, SSA will confirm your acceptance. Secure your place by paying your deposit.

Quick Links

Boost your resume, flourish as a human being, and have the time of your life.

Discover our custom programs for high schools and high school study-abroad opportunities.

Before study abroad: learn why SSA is your family’s partner in secure, enriching study abroad experiences. See how we support your student’s growth every step of the way.

After study abroad: make the most of your study abroad experience: get career support, become an ambassador, request a transcript, and more.

Learn about SSA’s custom programs, book a site visit, or become an esteemed SSA partner to earn exclusive benefits and discounts.

SSA Education Abroad logo
Who We Serve
Click here to further see Liberal Arts in English Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Immerse Yourself in the Vibrant Spanish Life in Seville! 🇪🇸✈️🎓

Click here to further see Barcelona programs

Barcelona, Spain

Explore Barcelona’s Rich Heritage & Spanish Delights! 🌟🏙️🇪🇸

Alicante

Alicante, Spain

Dive into Spanish Culture and Education in Sun-Kissed Alicante! 🌅📖🇪🇸

Click here to see Liberal Arts in Advanced Spanish San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Experience the Fusion of Cultures in San Juan’s SSA Adventure! 🌴📚🇵🇷

Click here for Liberal arts in Advanced Spanish

Córdoba, Argentina

Dive into Authentic Cultural Immersion in the Heart of Argentina! 🇦🇷📚🌆

Click here to see Liberal Arts in Advanced Spanish San Juan, Puerto Rico

Panama City, Panama

Navigate Through Panama’s Cultural Diversity with English Studies! 🛤️🌐🇵🇦

Patagonia Header

Patagonia, Argentina

Venture into Patagonia’s Wild Beauty with the SSA Environmental Studies Program! 🏞️🔍🇦🇷🇨🇱

We're Here to Help!

Beth Tyler INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONS MANAGER

Beth Tyler

INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONS Manager

Beth is your go-to contact for navigating the complex process of study abroad. 

She aims to respond to all inquiries within one business day.

Don’t hesitate to drop a message. No question is too small!

Trying to learn more about Study Abroad?

We’re sending you our A-Z study abroad guide, including:

  • What study abroad is
  • Why you should study abroad
  • Where you can study abroad
  • Best universities for international students
  • How much study abroad normally costs
  • Financial aid requisites and how to apply
  • Hot tips for living abroad
  • How to get started
     
Skip to content