Finding a place to live is stressful enough when you’re moving within the same city, so it only makes sense that finding housing from another continent is like asking for a hernia. Add on the rest of your study abroad planning and you’ve got a lot of moving parts to deal with! Luckily, there's a solution: living with a host family.

Let me share why living with a host family was of the best decisions I made about my study abroad experience -- and why I strongly recommend it. 


Here are three major reasons to live with a host family:

If you want to experience the authentic diet of your host country, living with a native family is your best bet. Not only will they feed you the traditional foods native to your host country, but they’ll also introduce you to the typical foods people outside of the country don’t really know about. You probably don’t eat hamburgers for dinner every night, just like people in Italy probably don’t eat pizza every night. Living with a host family can allow you to experience a full day’s cuisine, not just a single meal, in your host country. 


Sure, you’ll experience your host country’s unique culture no matter where you live, but staying with a host family is the best way to be immersed in it. You’ll learn about the daily routines, how families interact, and even how they argue. Your host family’s lifestyle will be very different from your culture, but you might just be surprised how similar they are to your own family once you get to know them. Most of all, though, you’ll get to feel like you belong in your host country, and see what it would be like to grow up or live in your host country permanently. 


If you go to a country where the main language is not English, living with a host family will be invaluable. They’ll help you learn (and remember) everyday vocabulary, like “spoon,” “dishwasher,” “cupboard,” or “trashcan.” They’ll correct your imperfect grammar (which can get tiring at times, but you’ll appreciate it later), and they’ll teach you about the local slang, including phrases your professors might not cover. Not to mention your language skills will increase just from constantly being immersed in the language!

Amber Johnson is from Colorado State University and studied abroad with CEA in Granada, Spain.