EC Accommodation: Homestay or Residence?

Studying English abroad can be one of the most invigorating experiences in your life. What’s not to enjoy? You learn, socialize and become familiarized with a range of colorful cultures from all over the world. However, we’ve left out out something essential here. You guessed it… accommodation! Rarely, before studying abroad do students assume that their choice of accommodation will have a significant impact on their language travel experience. Whilst most students might be happy to settle for ‘whatever’, or rather, choose something basic and affordable, understanding the benefits of different types of accommodation requires students to think carefully about what they want to get out of their English studies, as well as their personality.

Today we’ll consider two popular options for students looking to incorporate travel with educational goals: Homestays vs. Student Residences.

In recent years, the popularity of staying in a student residence has increased. What’s the big deal? Well, there are several reasons. Firstly, residences are sociable. Very sociable. You’ll have the opportunity meet individuals similar to yourself and share different cultural traditions. In fact, introducing and educating other students about your home country can be quite rewarding indeed! Similarly, residences are a popular choice because students often gain more independence than they might at a homestay. If you’re on the younger side, this can be a great advantage and allow you to be in control of how you spend your time abroad outside of class. After all, you’re not learning abroad to experience the life you had back home! However, beyond such freedom and the large formation of new friendship groups, residences might not be the best option if you’re a serious learner. Yes, making new friends is an important part of learning a language. However, you will be surprised by some of the interesting people you’ll meet by staying at a homestay.

Residences certainly fit students as ‘travelers’, although might not suit someone studying for an exam to the same extent. For students hoping to make enormous strides in their English development, choosing a homestay might be a more productive option. Host families might not provide you with the type of freedom found in a student residence, however, they will certainly assist your studies through verbal English practice and other areas of the language you may find challenging. Sure, some of your friends might be partying in groups, but more times than often, these groups contain foreign students who speak the same native language. Which type of student do you think will speak more English? The student watching TV speaking their mother tongue, or the student sharing English conversation over dinner with a native family? Host families can help you become settled in a new country of which you are unfamiliar. This is another important aspect to consider when studying abroad. Culture shock isn’t fun for anyone, especially when you least expect it. Using a homestay means being able to ask your questions to a local American of whom is happy to answer.

Finally, we might compare these two accommodation options when considering a major issue when studying abroad- food! What do you usually eat? Do these meals require little or a lot of preparation? Do you like to cook? If so, with friends or by yourself? Do you find it hard to budget money whilst on vacation? How much will it cost to eat out in your future location? Are you interested in tasting a variety of meals from different countries? All of these questions add up. It is important to remember that while cooking with your friends may seem like fun, after a while, you might miss the home-cooked dishes you were used to in your country. In this case, a homestay might be worth considering. However, if you are not all that keen to eat with a family in the evening or are simply happy to live off peanut butter sandwiches, by all means, go for the residence! Maybe classes finish late and its more convenient for you to eat out everyday anyway. This is expensive, but still an option.

There we have it! If you’re thinking about accommodation for your next language travel experience, consider these options and consider about what’s important- YOU!