If you’re new to the world of student accommodation abroad, it may get overwhelming to keep up with all the possible options out there. Whether it’s all the new student accommodation terminology, understanding the differences between PBSA and on-campus accommodation, or co-living vs shared housing, things could get complicated. There’s also another concept known as Homestay which might appear as a good option for many students.
Homestay is an accommodation option offered to international students who wish to spend their time abroad living with host families. It is more common among students who are studying a short or medium length course. Host families do not have to be a family per se, they can be one single person, an unmarried or married couple, or retired pensioners. In a Homestay, you would usually have your own bedroom as well as access to all communal areas around the house, both indoor and outdoor.
Homestays differ a lot from normal student accommodation; however, if you are looking for the perks, PBSAs have more perks than homestays with the extra touch of complete independence.
One of the best things about studying abroad is experiencing independence for the first time. However, if you choose to live in a homestay program, you’ll be giving that part away. Living with a host family means you’ll depend on them for food, laundry, groceries, and cleaning. It would be similar to living with your own family where everything is done according to their own schedules. This means you can’t order take-out whenever you want or let your dishes and laundry pile up like any college student. It also means you have to always inform your host family about your whereabouts and whether you will be missing any meals or family plans.
Another valued concept by everyone, but especially international students, is privacy. It’s not always guaranteed that your host family will have a separate room for you to stay in; you could end up sharing a room with one of the children, for example. This, of course, isn’t ideal since you won’t have your own personal space to study or just have some alone time. Even if you have your own room, you will probably have to share a bathroom, unlike in student accommodation options where you can choose to have your own private bathroom. You’ll also be expected to spend quality time with your host family, limiting your own personal time and space even more.
One of the main perks of studying abroad is meeting new people from all over the world, living in a homestay program limits your access and interaction with other students as opposed to student accommodation where you’ll be surrounded by students your age. Many international students who went through living with host families expressed how it was hard to meet other students and make new friends like their peers living in student accommodation. Living in a Homestay can also make you feel like the odd one out if all your classmates stay in student housing or rent a flat together.
Not living on-campus or at least close to it causes you to miss out on a lot of activities and events that make university life memorable. Living in a homestay program means being tied to your host family’s agenda of plans and special occasions, which doesn’t give you the chance to truly experience a college student’s social life. You won’t know about the latest parties happening, you won’t be able to make most school events if they are after-hours, and you will not be able to partake in all student activities. On the other hand, living in student accommodation, either on campus or close to it, means being in the midst of all the action and developing a full social life with other students, making unforgettable memories.
Another perk that student accommodation has as opposed to homestay programs is their ideal locations. Student accommodation options are usually located within a short walking distance to campus or at least a short ride away by public transportation. Meanwhile, choosing to live in a homestay program could get you sent to a house in the outskirts of the city, which makes getting to classes a huge hassle. Not to mention you’ll also be far from the city centre where you can go explore all the city’s famous attractions and hang out with friends in cafes and restaurants.
If this doesn’t convince you that choosing to stay in a student accommodation is way better than Homestay, we don’t know what else will! It seems like a no-brainer with all the perks you get when you stay in an accommodation with other students your age and start an independent life as a young adult experiencing a new city. It’s the choice that will get you the best out of this journey, as well as countless stories to tell when you get home about the new people you met, places you’ve visited, and activities you participated in.