Living With A Host Family – Misconceptions and Surprises

host family

Living With A Host Family – Misconceptions and Surprises

For the last 5 weeks, I’ve been living in Moscow with a host family. Living with a family you’ve never met before, in a country you may have never been to previously, can seem like a daunting experience.

After thinking about my own experiences, and asking others about theirs, I’ve written this post about what to expect if you’re having any of the usual concerns.

Communication and culture shock

What if I can’t communicate with my family? How will I adjust if there’s a big cultural difference? These are common questions other students have also had relating to host families. I also had the same concerns.

However, you must remember that you will not be the first foreign visitor to stay with them. Host families are used to people staying who do not necessarily understand much Russian, so they are very good at speaking slowly and clearly, and knowing what to point at! It is amazing how much you can understand through plain common sense. Often you can work out what your hosts are saying without actually understanding anything they’ve just said.

What to get as a gift?

Another topic that can create some unease. It can be difficult at times to buy gifts for a close family member, let alone someone you’ve never met. However, its important to remember that cliche, “its the thought that counts”. Your host family will appreciate that you made an effort, so spending too much time worrying about the gift is unnecessary. Trust your instincts. If there is something unique to your home country, that can always work well too.

Personal space

Another worry is that you’ll be stepping on someone’s toes if you stay with them. Perhaps you’re worried you might not have the personal space you would in your own flat. You may well  have more personal space in a shared flat, but I guarantee that you’ll still have your own space whilst staying with a family too.

Living with a host family can be very beneficial if you need advice, particularly if you’re travelling alone. It was surprising how useful it is to have regular contact with someone who knows the area. I also know of students who have visited some of the sights with their host families. Thus, a host family has proved to be a good balance between personal independence and a helping hand.

Listening to a Russian point of view

What surprised me most was how useful a host family was for thinking about the history, culture, and sometimes politics, from a Russian standpoint.  Your host family will talk to you about almost anything, so it’s a great opportunity to listen to a potentially very different perspective, perhaps one that you’ve never previously considered.

I’ve really enjoyed my time in a host family. It took a few days to adjust initially, but the Russian hospitality, coupled with the extra opportunities to practice the language outside the classroom, have made the experience truly worthwhile.

Lawrence Toye, currently studying at Liden & Denz Moscow

Posted by Lawrence Toye

Привет Everyone!My name is Lawrence, I’m 21, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK, and I’m pleased to say I’m the new social media intern at Liden&Denz Moscow for the next 5 weeks. This is only my first day in Moscow, so I still have so much to see and take in!I love learning languages and spent last year living in the Middle East and studying Arabic. When I started studying at politics and economics at university last September, I couldn’t resist doing a language course alongside. Even though I could’ve probably picked an easier language, I felt Russian would be the most rewarding. I was right! Despite the frequently confusing grammar, in particular the cases, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I’ve finished university for the summer, I decided to come here to to Liden&Denz to improve my Russian, and learn more about Russian culture.This is only my first full day in Russia, and I’m really excited to write about my thoughts, insights, and experiences of Moscow and learning Russian.

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